Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Movie Review: The Company Men

The Company Men is one of those movies is a fairly accurate depiction of the ramifications of The Great Recession.  It's a movie with a point, and on a small scale, provides part of the reason for the United States of America as it stands today. 

Needless to say, this isn't a happy movie, and about 3/4 of the way through, I thought it was a needlessly pessimistic movie, when it ended, I found it almost too optimistic.  I'll get to that later.

The Company Men is about three businessmen, all at different stages in their lives, and how they react to being dealt the same curveball. 

Tommy Lee Jones plays Gene McCleary, who helped start GSX Corporation with James Salinger(Craig T Nelson, playing a total prick).  During the economic downturn, the company is forced to downsize, close down shipyards, and lay off employees.  This isn't because they are hemorrhaging money, they made a profit of 22 million that year, its because their shareholders demanded a larger profit margin.  This is the source of the ideological divide between Salinger and McCleary.  McCleary believes that a company's job is to provide for its employees and its community, Salinger believes in the maximization of the bottom line. 

Ben Affleck plays a young, successful salesmen who gets laid off.  Its hard to like him early in the movie, as he's kind of an arrogant prick who doesn't seem to grasp what kind of job market he's been dropped into.  However, he is the one character in the movie who experiences some kind of a redemption. 

This is an extremely well cast and well acted movie.  Chris Cooper plays the most depressing character in the film, and sadly, his optionless character is tragically accurate. 

There really is no great revelation at the end of this movie.  The villians do not meet an untimely demise, in fact, James Salinger ends up making even more money.  But the protagonists reassess their principles and move forward.  And although its kind of a downer to see them leap back into the rat race with such relish, their commitment to their principles ends the movie on an uptick.  Although its nice that Affleck and Jones land on their feet.  I think its interesting that this movie chose to depict how the lives of three white collar workers were affected.  I would've liked to see how characters that spanned a wider economic range rather than the spectrum ranging from six figures to filthy rich.

Definitely a film worth watching though.

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