In Good Company

In Good Company
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger, David Paymer, Selma Blair, Philip Baker Hall, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Paul Weitz
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rated: PG mature themes, sexual references, medium level coarse language
Running Time: 109 Minutes

Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is 51 and his life is goodon the whole. The long-term head of ad sales at the weekly 'Sports America' has just celebrated the magazine's biggest year, thanks in large part to Dan's warm, honest, handshake deal style. Even the news of his wife's unexpected pregnancy and the acceptance of his eldest daughter, Alex (Scarlett Johansson), into NYU leave Dan happy, though not entirely unconcerned about family finances-but he will, as he always has, manage.

Carter Duryea (Topher Grace) is 26 and thinks his life is awesome, mostly. The whiz kid has been devoting himself single-mindedly to getting ahead at the multi-national conglomerate Globecom. Management even knows his name-Carter is being "groomed" for his next rung up the corporate ladder: heading up ad sales at one of the cornerstone publications newly acquired by Globecom in their latest takeover, the magazine 'Sports America'. Unfortunately for Carter, his promotion coincides with the crumling of his seven-month marriage and he has no one, save a pet fish, to share his joy with. But he knows he's on his way he's going places-and he'll manage.

My Verdict:
Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) has been working as head of ad sales for a sports magazine for a long time, when a young corporate whiz kid on the up and up, Carter Duryea (Topher Grace) is sent to overhaul the ad department after the company he works for takes over ownership of the said magazine. Carter becomes Dan's boss, which is a real kick in the shins for Foreman, considering Foreman is old enough to be Carter's father. But while Duryea is rising in the corporate world, his personal life is slowly sinking, as his wife (Selma Blair) leaves him after only 7 months of marriage, he crashes his new Porsche and has only a pet fish for company. Carter seizes the opportunity to pounce on Dan, using him as a mentor and almost like the father he never had, all the while, romancing Dan's eldest daughter, Alex (Scarlett Johansson) without revealing this fact to Dan.

The rise and rise of workaholic Carter is counterbalanced by the near sinking of family-man Dan, as his job is threatened and also the news that his wife is unexpectedly pregnant (which becomes a hit and miss sub-plot) Each man struggles to come to grips with their life and the direction it's heading, trying in vain to find the solution. It is their search in their own way that is so endearing and comes across so naturally. There are many funny moments including a great scene where Dan comes home to his 'surprise' 52nd birthday party.

With Paul Weitz's observant and perceptive script, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson are such a perfectly cast trio, all with strong performances covering all the bases. It is their cohesiveness that brings the movie its vibrancy and enthusiasm as it slowly evolves from when Carter first enters the lives of the Foreman family. Quaid is perfect as the 'old school' father and businessman, offering advice to Carter and being the protective father to his daughter, Alex. Grace has an interesting style, where his lines are delivered with an almost cynical, staccato-like manner yet this is never annoying - all possibly due to his copious quantities of caffeine and in a funny way it is this quirky feature that makes his character so engaging. To have an enormous impact, Johansson sometimes just has to be on the screen, such is her presence. Simply, she is a pleasure to watch.

Perhaps there is only one downside to 'In Good Company' -that being the conclusion. In some ways it is too open but if the predictable resolution was taken then it could have been criticised for being too banal and conventional. Either way, 'In Good Company' is such a lovely surprise and a breath of fresh air for it is a simple story, told simply but with such an impact.

Rating : B+

Christina Bruce