out of Five
Running time: 109
Enjoyable comedy, thanks to solid direction and likeable performances from Grace and Quaid.
Director Paul Weitz seems determined to leave his pie-related antics behind him - the posters for In Good Company all say “From the director of About A Boy”, making no mention of the fact that he also directed American Pie. It should come as no surprise, then, that In Good Company is a character-based, “serious” comedy, in which the only thing anyone puts into a pie is a fork.
Corporate Takeover Causes Strife
Dennis Quaid stars as Dan Foreman, a middle-aged advertising salesman who’s been at the same firm for 25 years. When his company gets taken over by a greedy mega-corporation Dan suddenly finds himself working for 26 year old whizz-kid Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), and his job at stake. To make matters worse, the recently-divorced Carter starts dating Dan’s college-age daughter, Alex (Scarlett Johansson).
In Good Company is a sharply-observed, smartly written comedy with some interesting points to make about corporate culture, particularly regarding the sense of jittery unease that follows a corporate takeover. It also works well as a romantic comedy, painting a convincing portrait of the relationship between Carter and Alex, as well as taking the time to flesh out Dan’s family, which includes his newly-pregnant wife, Anne (Marg Helgenberger) and youngest daughter (Zena Grey).
Occasional Shortcomings But General Success
The film is extremely well cast. Topher Grace (from That 70s Show) and Dennis Quaid work brilliantly together, to the point where you feel genuine affection for both characters. Quaid, especially, is superb - his performance is surprisingly emotional in places and some of his scenes with Johansson are guaranteed to leave you with “something in your eye”. (Highlights include: Quaid himself desperately trying not to cry as he waves his daughter off to college and Quaid kicking himself after shouting “Are you kids coming in for dinner?” at his boss and Alex).
There’s also good support from the likes of Selma Blair and David Paymer, as well as an amusing cameo by Malcolm McDowell.
Unfortunately, the film does have its weak points. Johansson’s part is a little under-written, at least in regard to her relationship with Carter. Similarly, the film bungles its climax in the rush to give everyone a happy ending. As a result it squanders the sense of realism that distinguished the earlier part of the film, plumping instead for a series of feelgood rom-com moments, none of which ring particularly true.
That said, In Good Company is still an enjoyable film and the quality of the performances easily outweighs both the occasional shortcomings of the script and the slightly dodgy soundtrack. Worth seeing.