EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|COMPANY MEN, THE (director/writer: John Wells; cinematographer: Robert Frazen; music: Aaron Zigman; cast: (Gene McClary), (Bobby Walker), (Phil Woodward), (Sally Wilcox), (Maggie Walker), (Jack Dolan), Craig T. Nelson (James Salinger), Eamonn Walker (Danny Mills); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producers: John Wells/Claire Rudnick Polstein/Paula Weinstein; the Weinstein Company; 2010); editor:|
|"A solid drama about
effects of downsizing."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
TV director and producer of ER, John Wells, in his directorial
debut, enables a talented ensemble cast to give chilling nuanced
(the strength of the pic). The pic does damage to corporate ethics
while questioning the viability of the capitalist system without
directly attacking it, in a solid drama about the ill effects of
corporation executives leading empty materialistic lives, the rat race
of throwing over friendships for profit
and the hidden nightmare in the American Dream of living the good and
greedy life on someone else's back.
When the New England shipbuilding and logistic giant GTX merges, its oily flinty-eyed president James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) orders his ruthless HR rep, Sally Wilcox (), to fire a large number of staff in the hopes of keeping the stock price high so his company can stall a hostile takeover and give him stock options. Included in the layoffs is the cocky thirtysomething family man sales manager Bobby Walker (), pissed at losing his $160,000 salary job and letting management know. Bobby comes down to earth and has to face the humiliation of his supportive wife Maggie () and crestfallen son, and feels ashamed that he failed them. Trying to pretend everything is all right, Bobby tries keep a false bravado clinging to his privileged lifestyle (Porsche and golf club membership in an exclusive club) that he no longer can afford. Faced with paying the mortgage for his cozy suburban house and credit card debts and with no job materializing in his field, Bobby's forced to take a temporary hard-hat carpenter job with his gruff small-time contractor brother-in-law Jack Dolan (
executive, who worked his way up from
welder, Phil Woodward (),
and company bigwig Gene
McClary (Tommy Lee
Jones), one of its founders and a
who is fired by his college roommate and best friend Salinger. Unable
to salvage the company's soul, Gene is surprisingly surprised by how
ruthless his company acts (I couldn't believe someone with his
business savvy would be surprised at all) and is left twisting in the
wind (never telling us his parachute package) but still has enough
fight in him to start over.
It's an actor's pic, that
the schematic storyline (told from an insider's point of view). The
actors give their tired men in grey suits some pep and deliver with
ease the film's message of not to blindly trust big corporations. It
tells of fired high-paid executives expecting pity from the public for
having to now re-define their lives, as some are forced to survive on
salaries of half of what they received before the Turk tapped them on
their shoulder. There's nothing new it says about the financial crisis
that we didn't already know and it presents its story as if it were a
sobering lecture about the unfairness of a business laying off
competent workers because it cares more about pleasing its stockholders
than its workers.
To show how far down the fallen have fell, its pointed photography lucidly records the anxiety-ridden atmosphere as some of the layoff survivors start over in a small time business located in a shabby office with tacky lighting (vastly different from the rich slick looking GTX office the pic featured in the opening, with the pretty but meaningless decor). The hope for these gritty survivors is that maybe in due time they can find a way to get their start-up business to grow, but hopefully without the business losing its soul like GTX.
REVIEWED ON 3/22/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ