Saturday, December 31, 2005

"In Good Company" (the movie)

It's too fitting not to blog about this movie after I recently blogged something under the same title. I liked the movie more than I expected. Or I was a lot more impressed by it than I expected. The concept is 52 year-old head of sales for a sports magazine finds himself demoted and working for a 26 year-old after giant corporation swallows the magazine, takes over and downsizes. Scarlet Johansson in a very short skirt is the old guys daughter, and so you know what happens between whom. In fact, you probably know also that the tables will be turned and young guy will learn from old and inhuman corporate anonymity will be vanquished by folksy capitalism, such as prevailed for centuries in the ad-space sales of yore. But it turns out there's considerable wisdom in this movie, if I may say so, and the movie is a lot less timeless and hackneyed than it is a genuine a tale of our time. Wisdom isn't just sprinkled like the clever quips or subtle allusions for adults that pop up in Shrek and Nemo. There are sprinkles, but the there's more structural smartness too. The corporation is a personal empire in the style of Ted Turner's or Rupert Murdoch's, and the white spiky-haired, wide-eyed CEO moves from background to foreground through the film. The movie teaches that the familiar new economy blather and mass reorganizational ways of modern corporateering are--pure and simply--fascism. Mussolini's "fascismo" came from the Latin and Italian words for "bundle," and the movement's symbol was a cinched bunch of rods (taken from ancient Rome) . Likewise the logo and watchwords of the movie corporation were all about community and coming together--while its actions were to ruthlessly do away with loyal and long-serving workers to follow the whims of the corporate leader and the littler dictators in line. The movie explained this ruthlessness as from an ethos that existed in parallel in the corporate trenches: The familiar idea that business is about competing to survive--and the familiar hyperbole the equates business success with murderering people who stand in your way . The Johanssen relationship was nicely done, with the movie making Johanssen a plausible mix of maturity and youthfulness that held at bay my reasonable doubts about a college junior mixing easily with a 26 year-old corporate guy. The ending isn't implausibly pat either, and yet it's happy. What more could you ask for? I'd give the movie two thumbs up, if according to the rules of Ebert and the late Siskell a reviewer were allowed more than one thumb. So I give it one hearty thumb. Anyway, one really ought always to consult Ebert. He's the man.

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