"In Good Company" (IMDb listing), starring Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace, is a film about two men at a crossroads in their lives who are both facing similar realities. Dan Foreman (Quaid) is 51-years-old, married with two daughters and has a child on the way. After working for several years as an advertising executive for a major magazine, Dan gets demoted during a corporate take-over and learns that, experience aside, he is replaceable. And who is there to fill his shoes? Carter Duryea (Grace), a 26-year-old workaholic with youth as his primary advantage. While both men are competing for the same professional role, they are also striving for similar personal goals that cause their lives to become more intertwined than they planned. When Carter starts dating Dan's oldest daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson), the line between work and family is blurred and relationships start to change.
Directed and written by Paul Weitz ("About a Boy"), "In Good Company" examines the choices that we make in life and how every individual defines success. With the many roles that a person takes on in life, how many are they actually qualified for? This film looks to answer that and calls into question what having experience actually means. For Dan, the wisdom of his years leaves him no more prepared than his youthful successor for changes at home or at work. At the same time, Carter's lack of experience leaves him unaware and content with his lifestyle until he starts to recognize that something is missing from it. Throughout the film, both men are leading parallel lives where, regardless of age, they both are looking for the same thing -- to find meaning behind their successes.
Weitz skillfully crafts a film that navigates through a variety of genres. Not just a comedy, "In Good Company" is also a coming-of-age drama that combines the romance of multiple kinds of relationships with a new approach to what it means to grow up. This film demonstrates that experience may come with age, but everyone is equally unprepared and continues to learn from whatever life throws their way.
Despite having a strong story, the film's conclusion is slightly disappointing and it wraps up a little too neatly. "In Good Company" is not as predictable as one might expect, but it still chooses a safe ending rather than carrying out some of the more challenging elements of the plot. The film is poignant, but leaves audiences wishing for a little more depth in the ending.
The film is well cast with a particularly strong performance by Grace, who sheds any connection to his role on "That '70s Show." His portrayal of a boy pretending to be a man is endearing and leaves audiences feeling loyal to both him and Quaid.
"In Good Company" is successful in that it raises questions about the working world and what it means to prepare for your job and be "groomed" toward a certain destiny. It also takes an interesting look at ageism in the workplace and concerns about the effects of corporate control through conglomerations.
Overall, "In Good Company" is a reminder that success comes in many forms and can only be defined by the meaning behind it. Personal and professional lives inevitably mix together because one is nothing without the other.
Filmfodder Grade: A-