There’s no denying that The Company Men is a timely movie. It concerns three corporate employees of varying experience and rank (played by Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris Cooper) who are laid off from their jobs and struggle to find their way back to the “American Dream.” Director John Wells, making his big screen debut after a successful stint writing and producing television like ER and The West Wing, takes an honest, sincere approach to the material and audience members can’t help but relate to the characters’ situation and sympathize with them.
But, without being too cavalier to the real life economic realities facing people today, The Company Men is ultimately rather slight, signifying … well, not all that much. The film is well-made, though nothing spectacular – Wells is a student of the “point and shoot” filmmaking technique. He doesn’t embarrass himself, but he doesn’t really impress much either. It too often plays like a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie, but with really good actors. Affleck and Jones are both in fine form and have interesting characters to play, while Cooper does what he can with a lazy, underwritten role.
The ending is abrupt, and though the movie closes on a happy note, I left unfulfilled and unsatisfied. I wanted more out of The Company Men
– a bolder thesis, richer story, heavier drama. One word to describe the movie that springs to mind upon reflection is “polite.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. I’ll be curious to see how this one does at the box office. The subject matter may be topical and resonate with viewers, but given the state of the economy, you’re almost better off spending the time trying to keep your own job than watch others lose theirs.
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