I don’t often come out of the theater thinking, “Wow, that was a great movie. I’m really glad I saw that.” But such is the case with ‘The Company Men,’ a movie that contains no car chases, no special effects, no cross-country adventure, and no superheroes. Well, maybe one superhero in human form. And one cool sports car.
It’s just a really solid drama with great acting and a ripped-from-the-headlines story that everyone can relate to one way or another. The story follows several men who have their lives turned upside down after their ship-building company, GTX Corporation, starts firing people due to an economic recession.
There’s Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), who drives a Porsche, plays lots of golf, and has a nice wife named Maggie (Rosemarie DeWitt) and a couple of nice kids. When he loses his job, Bobby finds himself in a “job placement center” – a place where unemployed people can use the phones, make copies, and work on their resume. Bobby absolutely hates it, including all the “you can do it!” therapy sessions that go along with it.
Chris Cooper plays Phil Woodward, an older man who finds it even more difficult to land a new job, given the fact that he’s pushing 60. Tommy Lee Jones is Gene McClary, a man who helped start the company with his friend and college roommate, Jim Salinger (Craig T. Nelson).
Jim is more than happy to fire people and re-organize the company for his own profits, while Gene feels like the company owes their workers some loyalty and respect for all their hard work. In case you were wondering, he’s the superhero.
So you can see the conflict here: sacrifice jobs and treat people badly for the sake of the bottom line, or … use old-fashioned idealism to somehow make it work and treat workers respectfully.
Even though I haven’t worked in the corporate world in many years, I recently had my own bout with this (read more about my experience with AOL last year), so I totally get this movie, even in my own small way. You pour your heart and soul into a job (in my case, TV Squad), then find yourself out of a gig when the company re-organizes.
I can just imagine that many people are going through this same thing, having worked diligently for a company for years, only to be unceremoniously let go when they were no longer needed. It sucks. It messes with your faith in humanity. And if you don’t watch out, it can make you really cynical.
But this movie doesn’t suck. I loved it, and it’s currently holding the “favorite movie of 2011” spot so far. It’s also really nice to see Kevin Costner on the screen again. He plays Bobby’s brother-in-law, a contractor with his own home-building company. After failing to land a management job, Bobby finally succumbs and takes a job doing grunt work for Bobby, even though they don’t get along at all. But there’s always a silver lining in these instances, and Bobby manages to find a few of those, including newfound respect for blue-collar workers.
Go see ‘The Company Men.’ It’s a great story with an inspiring ending. And if nothing else, it just firms up my resolve to create a career for myself that no one can take away from me. Born entrepreneur, that’s me.
‘The Company Men’ is rated R for language and brief nudity.
Images: The Weinstein Company