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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Nov 28: The Company Men


Nov 28: The Company Men

"The story centers on a year in the life of three men trying to survive a round of corporate downsizing at a major company - and how that affects them, their families, and their communities."
Directed by: John Wells, Rated: R, 104 minutes

2007 saw Ben Affleck become relevant again with his directorial debut in Gone Baby Gone. Seemingly re-energized  Affleck jumped back into the acting game after a few years on "leave" and found that his talent in that department started to catch up with his directing ability. To be honest, I never really gave up on the man but I can understand why a lot of people did. He's an acquired taste and you tend to either love him or hate him. Well, throughout all of his emergence as one of the best American directors, a little film called The Company Men he stars in flew under the radar. It's even more surprising given its subject matter- the US economy collapse and the results of the recession, in the corporate world and at home.

He even gets to keep his Bawston accent. 

The Company Men follows the stories of three men. Bobby Walker (Affleck) is a senior salesman at the GTX Corporation. He's damn good at his job and makes $200K a year. He has a beautiful home, a gorgeous wife (Rosemarie DeWitt), and a really nice car. He has settled in his life and is more than sitting large and comfortable. Unfortunately  GTX runs into financial problems because of the recession and Walker is let go, completely out of nowhere. Bobby flails and loses any comforts he had, never thinking something like that could ever happen to him. Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) is another bigshot at GTX and his close friends with the CEO, James (Craig T. Nelson). He's a fighter for all the workers let go and we see him working to contain the downsizing, knowing the employees are more than just people who show up to work every day. Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) started off on the factory floor of GTX and worked his way up over thirty years. His job is his life and he has set up an even nicer home for his wife and daughter. He never complains and works his ass off, so hearing the news that he too has been let go pushes him to the brink, unraveling the man faster than you could imagine.

The film also stars Maria "I Always Get Naked" Bello. And yes, she does. 

The Company Men is a movie all about the performances. All three men in the lead roles are amazing, each fitting their respective part perfectly. It's easy to believe Affleck is the over-confident businessman who has it all and it's even easier to picture Tommy Lee Jones as the man at the top, rugged, worn, and wiser than you think. Chris Cooper is exceptional as Phil and you feel so bad for him as the man who's worked so hard to get royally f**ked in the end. However, at first glance, you would think that these characters shouldn't be cared about, as they really are high and tight, near millionaires who have made money off of the losses and pains of other people. But, I guess that's the strength of the film because it never villainizes these characters. Even if they're "better than us", they're still human and the movie really focuses on the real struggles they face. Losing your job and even your home effects everyone and is equally embarrassing across every economic class.

This sucks, no matter who you are. 

I would definitely recommend The Company Men. It's a movie that's relevant to what's been going on in the country the last few years and gives us at look at how those on the top (who we're supposed to hate) are struggling to get by as well. It's extremely well acted and gives the film an unexpected level of talent and credibility. Written and directed by TV vet John Wells (The West Wing and ER), it's a smart very serious drama showered with bits of humor that make it all that much easier to swallow. While the lives of those focused on in the film are far from what any of us are used to, their struggles are still relatable and their pain is still hard to watch. Even then though, it's worth your time. 

The Good:
terrific performances from the entire cast, from the three main leads to each supporting character
The Bad:
being reminded that getting fired has absolutely no positive aspects to it and that family may be important, but money really, really helps
The Ugly:
seeing that everyone was hit hard by the recession, except the very, very, very, very top of big companies that keep spending all of the money, taking bonuses, raising new buildings, and going on vacations 

Overall: 7.7/10

Discussion Question:
If someone makes millions of dollars a year, lives large, but then loses his/her job, should we feel sorry for them? 


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At November 29, 2012 at 11:49 AM , Blogger Quirky BookandFilmBuff said...

I think I could feel some pity for them, because losing a job is always a stressful life event. But not too much. Unless they've lived an extremely reckless lifestyle, there should be no danger of not being able to put food on the table. Many people aren't so lucky.

This sounds like a good film, even though I am not a fan of Ben Affleck. Great review!

At November 29, 2012 at 6:48 PM , Blogger Nick said...

What about him don't you like?


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