In Good Company

Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is a 51-year old family man and ad executive for a national sports magazine. He is enjoying his success when a huge multinational media corporation buys the magazine and he is replaced by an upwardly mobile and successful executive from the cell phone division of the corporation, 26-year old, Carter Duryea (Topher Grace). Though Dan is not “let go” (the euphemism the corporation used instead of the offensive word “fired”), he is dismayed by the changes and wants to leave with all the people he hired. But his wife’s (Marg Helgenberger) pregnancy and his oldest daughter Alex’s (Scarlett Johansson) transfer to New York University from SUNY, mean he needs the money. So he stays.

 

Carter knows he is out of his depth but plunges ahead. His wife cannot endure his workaholic habits and divorces him. Carter becomes so desperate for some kind of life outside the office that when Dan unwittingly invites him home for dinner, the younger man readily accepts.

 

Carter and Alex become friendly, and then start an intense relationship. Then just when Carter and Dan start to get along well at the office, everything starts to unravel, beginning with Dan’s discovery that Carter and Alex are sleeping together.

 

But what is In Good Company really about? It’s about corporate greed and inhumanity and how individuals and families deal with it, react and respond to it. What I really liked was the part when Teddy-K (MalcolmMcDowell) the mogul, gives a speech about how a corporation is the new democracy, something that operates like a country. You know, held together by synergy. Dan speaks up and says that a democracy takes care of its people, corporations do not. Hear, hear. Like the 1987 film Wall Street and last year’s documentary The Corporation, the audience is very clearly being invited to reflect on the role of money in our personal lives – and how impersonal and inhuman capitalism is as an unstoppable force unless people decide to claim their humanity and morality.

 

In Good Company is funny and warm. Quaid, Grace and Johansson give engaging performances. The film calls our attention to the fact that while capitalism, “the corporation” is not going away, neither is our search for transcendent meaning in our lives and the need for family. If we want to lead meaningful lives, then it is up to us to give capitalism a conscience and make its function a means to an end, not an end in itself.

 

 

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