Highlight: In Good Company

Starring Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, and Dennis Quaid

Call it another case of art imitating corporate life: Last year, NBC merged with Universal Pictures in a multi-billion-dollar deal. This week, Universal releases a movie about media executive Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid), whose company merges with a major conglomerate in a multi-billion-dollar deal. Foreman's daughter Alexis (Scarlett Johansson) starts to date her dad's new supervisor Carter Duryea (Topher Grace)--much as Universal star Tobey Maguire has been dating the daughter of his supervisor, studio exec Ron Meyer. Can you see where this is going? The layoffs, the pay cuts, the demotions--all are inevitable products of mergers on- and off-screen. But when the credits roll for Dan and Carter, you're left with the message that no matter what the global marketplace dictates, a strong work ethic can make you happy. Remember that this message was brought to you by the second-largest media conglomerate on earth. (In good company, indeed.) And yet, despite the movie's dubiously optimistic view of the workplace, its assessment of what's behind the suit and tie is often very real and quite moving. Much of the credit goes to writer-director Paul Weitz, who has spent much of his career concentrating on boys who grow up too fast (American Pie) and men who never grew up at all (About a Boy). Here he deftly avoids almost every potential cliché by giving his mid-life crisis movie to a kid who's not even 30. "Maybe my life has peaked at 26. Maybe it's all downhill from here," Carter worries, capturing every Gen-Yer's greatest fear. With his charmingly nervous laugh and tossed-off earnestness, Grace vividly mirrors his upwardly mobile character's own career ambitions. In the end, he does exactly what the bosses want him to do: He makes a really good movie.

 
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