The Company Men|
POSTED BY MICHAEL A. SMITH, January 21, 2011 Share
Starring: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper and Kevin Costner
Directed by: John Wells
Running time: 1 hour 49 mins
The Weinstein Company
It’s a familiar story in these tough times. Due to the slow economy many companies begin to lay off workers by the hundreds. Even those that have spent decades there find out that their jobs aren’t safe. Those that are allowed to remain on the payroll suddenly find themselves doing more with less. And even though they still have a job, they know that nothing is guaranteed.
A fine companion piece to last year’s George Clooney film “Up In the Air,” The Company Men takes a look at the lives of three men, very different in position but similar in circumstances. They all work for the GTX Corporation, which is owned and run by James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson). Salinger is looking to sell his company and realizes that by cutting his work force (and therefore, his expenses) that stock prices will rise and interest in the company will grow. Of course, things would be much better if Salinger wasn’t also having a brand new home office building built, full of expensive glass and marble. Salinger’s second in command, and best friend, is Gene McClary (Jones). Gene is protective of his employees and is upset that he can’t save them all. It doesn’t help that Gene is also having an affair with the HR rep doing all of the canning (Maria Bello).
Further down the food chain we find middle management guy Phil Woodward (Cooper). Phil is constantly worried about his finances but can’t find it in him to tell his daughter “no” when she informs him that her school is taking a senior trip to Italy. Then there’s Bobby Walker (Affleck, never better). Bobby’s job provides him with a big house, nice Porsche and a country club membership. But when Bobby finds himself, and hundreds others, heading home with everything from their desk packed into a box, he must make decisions that will affect not only the present, but the rest of his life.
John Wells has played a huge part in some very fine television programs. “E.R.” “The West Wing.” “Southland.” The man clearly has an eye (and ear) for drama. He continues that success here with his feature writing/directing debut. His script is such a reflection of current events that it could have been written yesterday. He is helped immensely by an outstanding cast, particularly his three stars. Over the past few years Tommy Lee Jones has established himself in my mind as a natural successor to Robert Duval. Like Duvall, he is able to play anyone at any time so convincingly that you really can’t imagine anyone else in the role. Cooper is solid as well, his usual quiet man persona suiting him well here. Of all the characters it’s Affleck’s Bobby that changes the most. Bobby treats his unemployment as if he were dealing with the five stages of death, particularly denial. We are shocked that Bobby still drives the Porsche and pays the dues at the country club, even though his situation has caused him to move in with his in laws, wife and children in tow. Reduced to working construction for his brother in law Ray (Costner in one of his best performances in years!), Bobby begins to learn that money isn’t everything. The supporting players are just as good, including a strong turn by Rosemarie DeWitt as Affleck’s wife, Maggie.
On a scale of zero to four stars I give “The Company Men” ***
This Week's Movie Review of "The Company Men" is ©2011 by Mike Smith. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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