In Good Company (2004)

One day, my wife, Jenny had just come home from being with a friend. The friend was going through a very emotional time, and while Jenny was trying to be encouraging to her, the friend felt hurt by a misinterpreted action on Jenny’s part. If you know Jenny, you know that hurting someone’s feelings is the LAST thing she thinks of doing. Even that is a misstatement – she NEVER thinks of hurting someone’s feelings. This situation made her in turn feel hurt and frustrated. When she came home, she started telling me what happened, while at the same time trying to take off her knee-high boots. Taking off knee-high boots is never quick, and it doesn’t become easier when you are trying to do it in an emotional state of mind. So her monologue went something like this: “Why is it – (PULL) – so hard – (YANK) – to be someone’s friend (STRETCH) when all I’m trying to do – (JERK) – is be nice! Why is it so (TUG) hard!” As the last boot came off, she fell sobbing into my arms.

That was one of the heart-breakingly funny things I have ever seen in my life.

And life is often like that. In the midst of the highest drama, humor finds a way of popping out.

And so it goes with In Good Company. Drama? Comedy? Mainly drama, but the humor is natural, not forced.

And no, I will not give credence to the made-up-by-stupid-people word, dramedy. My spell-checker tells me it’s not a word. If it was a word, it would be describing a medicine you take for nausea, not a genre.

Dennis Quaid portrays on over-50 years old seller of ads at a sports magazine which is being taken over by a mega-company that seems to exist only to buy and sell other companies. He is demoted, given a 26 year old boss (Topher Grace), while at the same time dealing with his wife’s very unexpected pregnancy. And then his college age daughter (Scarlett Johansson) starts dating his new, young boss.

Paul Weitz, the director and writer, gives us a beautiful script that gives us the unexpected. But he also perfectly shows us the character’s feelings using the camera, not just the script. There’s a great scene where as Topher Grace’s wife is leaving him, his heartbeat is amplified to emphasize his heartbreak, but then it seems the heartbeat is really that of Dennis Quad’s unborn child, which is a precursor to Quaid’s arrhythmia attack as his situation sinks in. Beautiful. And if as you’re watching the movie, you think you can tell how it’s going to end, forget it. The ending manages to be satisfying and atypical at the same time.

So if you look at the cover of the DVD, and see the review quote “A Winning Comedy”, don’t be fooled. You can bet your boots, this movie is so much more than that.

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