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In Good Company (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes with commentary by Paul Weitz. Feature Commentary with Paul Weitz, Dennis Quaid, and Topher Grace. Cast and filmmakers.

IMAGINE you are the hard-working head of a successful advertising department, who wakes up one morning to find that your company has just been taken over.

You're 51, your eldest daughter is just about to start university and your wife has just announced she is pregnant again.

When the new owners of your company decide to demote you to make way for a brash, 26-year-old with little or no experience of the industry you have so loyally served for the past 30 years, what do you do?

It's an interesting question and one which any member of a big business corporation will be aware of - whether they have fallen victim to similar office politics or watched from the sidelines as such a drama unfolds.

It also forms the basis for the shamelessly enjoyable new 'dramedy', In Good Company, the new film from director, Paul Weitz (About A Boy, American Pie), starring Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johanssen.

Quaid is the ad manager in question, Dan Foreman, the slightly weary but widely-respected head of sales at Sports America magazine, who has just guided his sales team to their best figures in years.

When he learns that his job is to be given to Grace's charismatic and ambitious Carter Duryea, a self-confessed 'ninja assassin', Dan has no choice but to play 'wing man' to the newcomer, biting his lip as he bids to preserve his job for the sake of his family.

But his misery is compounded when Duryea befriends and then courts his daughter, Alex (Johansson), prompting the inevitable clash of personalities and egos.

It may not sound like too much of an inspired premise, but In Good Company quickly proves itself to be a smart, funny, even biting movie that seamlessly blends moments of spot-on satire with affecting human drama.

The cast is uniformly excellent, with Quaid and Grace striking a near-perfect balance between father-son and love-hate - Grace, especially, confirms the potential he showed in the lacklustre Win A Date With Tad Hamilton with a blistering breakthrough turn.

Yet writer-director Weitz (in his first solo project without brother, Chris) also deserves credit for deftly marrying the contrasting plot-lines together, jumping between the humour and the tragedy with effortless aplomb.

His film not only makes some very pertinent points about corporations and the men who serve them at the highest level, but also has the good sense to offset them with some wonderfully drawn characters so that by the time it reaches its sweet conclusion, you won't mind the overdose of sentiment.

Hence, as cocky and arrogant as Duryea appears in the office, he actually cuts a lonely, insecure person desperately in need of a father-figure, which Dan's family-man could just provide.

Viewers might be able to guess the outcome, but the path towards it is so very well plotted out.

Indeed, the conclusion is the only real stumbling point, coming across as far too 'Hollywood' for an otherwise realistic drama come comedy.

But that's a small price to pay for a film that delivers such consistently rich rewards throughout.

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