In Good Company, a Conscience Examination for Corporate America
In Good Company, does a good job of examining the nuances of corporate America.
There are some movies that truly examine and expose the American workplace for what it is and what is has become. In Good Company, is that kind of movie. This movie truly brings to light the subject of downsizing, corporate takeovers, buzz words that really mean nothing, and the growing disillusionment with business conglomerates, that have taken over the American workforce. Has the American workplace lost its integrity? Have we sold ourselves out for larger profits and empty promises? We are now facing very uncertain times as to our country’s economic future. We must once again ask ourselves, what it truly means to have job satisfaction. Are we working with each other or have we been pinned against one another? I think its time that corporate America examined its reasons for being in business.
In Good Company examines corporate America and what the business world has become. The movie starts with what would seem a pretty uneventful morning, but little does Dan Foreman (played by Dennis Quaid) know that the events of that day would change his life in deeper ways than he could imagine. Dan is the head of the sales department, for Sports America. Changes are upon him. Teddy K., a billionaire media magnet has just acquired Sports America.
We are then introduced to Carter Duryea (played by Tropher Grace), a young entrepreneurial, yes man. He is energetic, full of buzz words and ready to kick some butt. Carter is part of the conglomerate that Teddy K. owns. He is given the opportunity to be part of the company that will be replacing and training key employees from Sports America. His colleague, Mark Steckle (played by Clark Gregg) who happens to be your typical corporate idiot, who worships those in command, and never questions his purpose in being there, has the job of grooming Carter. The members of the Krispity Krunch Conglomerate enter, and their new policies are nasty at best. For one thing,they fire people, who have faithfully served the company, without making any apologies. Carter begins his business meeting with a lot of meaningless buzz words. The word that he seems most fond of is “synergy.” Synergy is a way of multi-tasking promotion techniques in order to cross promote a product.
Dan Foreman finds that his world is collapsing. He is suddenly demoted from his positions as the head of the sales department, and has a new baby on the way. His boss, Carter is a man half his age, who does not know the first thing about selling sport’s ads. Dan is expected to do things differently and compete in world where he is considered a dinosaur. Carter, who seems to be on top of the world is really just a sham, a pseudo superman, who really doesn’t know what he wants, and sounds like a broken record, when repeating meaningless corporate phrases. He tries to be upbeat, but deep down he has many insecurities.
Carter is not very successful when it comes to relationships. He is a yuppie wannabe, whose marriage is falling apart after only seven months. He was brought up in a single parent environment, and never got to know his own father. Carter is a lonely workaholic, but too proud to admit it. He thinks that having a home cooked meal is a family thing; a "family thing" he never really had. He's so driven that he forces the whole staff to come to work on a Sunday. Yet, he's so lonely, he invites himself to Dan’s home to have dinner with Dan’s family.
At the family dinner at Dan's house Carter meets Dan’s daughter, Alex (played by Scarlett Johansson). Carter is instantly drawn to her and wants to go out with her. Dan, on the other hand, wants the least to do with Carter. He is so nervous that he drops the ziti and has to order pizza. Despite Dan’s objections, there is a growing friendship between Carter and Alex. They even become intimately involved. This puts Carter in an awkward position, since Alex is the daughter of his second in command. Carter, who is lonely and is starting to see life differently, starts to fall for Alex. Carter seems to find in Dan the father figure he never had. Dan’s family is like a surrogate family for Carter.
The movie brings to light many of today’s painful realities. In Dan’s case, it’s when he has to take out a second mortgage, so that he can finance his daughter’s education and afford his new baby. Carter also has his own painful moment when he is signing his divorce papers and now has to face life alone. There is also the pain on the faces of the members of the staff of Sports America when they are being unjustly fired after many years of faithful service. I was especially moved when they fire Morty (played by David Paymer). It is heart breaking when Morty says “What am I going to tell my wife? I mean she already wears the pants. Now she’s going to wear the tie and jacket to.” You can’t help but feel Morty's pain, a man who is now facing a great loss of dignity for something that is not even his fault.
The defining moments in the movie, are when Dan puts Carter in his place, and decides to give him a black eye. Another defining moment is when Teddy K. comes to visit. He is giving a speech loaded with meaningless corporate philosophy, as he repeats his favorite buzzword “synergy” in the corporate lounge. Then suddenly Dan interrupts the meeting with a very important question. Dan asks Teddy; “What do computer have to do with sports? Are you literally saying that there should be a section in the magazine about computers? Who’s going to want to read that? I’m not sure I understand how the way the world is changing. Is it actually going to change the way we do business? We are still selling a product, right, which hopefully someone needs. We’re human beings with other human beings for customers. So I don’t see how this company is like its own country. I mean just because we sell different kinds of things, that doesn’t mean we should operate by our own laws does it? Besides which countries, at least democratic ones, they have an obligation to their citizens, don’t they? So how do the layoff and bottom line thinking fit into that?’ To which Teddy K. simply answers “Dan Foreman. Sports America. You ask some excellent questions, excellent, excellent questions. I’m glad you asked them. I’m leaving it to you, to all of you to answer them.”
Teddy K. Was sincerely impressed with Dan's integrity. Steckle, on the other hand, did not understand what it meant to have a backbone. He thought that Dan may have insulted his "master. Steckle, being the spineless, wet wipe that he is, fires Dan. Carter, who is finally opening his eyes to corporate realities, realizes its time to stop pursuing empty promises, and start standing next to men of true worth. He tells Steckle that he quits. Carter also informs him, that he will lose out on a great deal that Dan and he had been working on.
Dan and Carter leave the office feeling better about one another. For the first time, Dan is proud of Carter and Carter feels he truly has a purpose. Dan and Carter seize the moment and go to one of Dan’s hard to reach clients. They both manage to sell ad space in the magazine to a gentleman, who was tired of being ridiculed by his progressive grandson, with their honest approach. After making a successful deal, Carter is on top of the world, and Dan feels he’s gotten his mojo back.
Integrity wins out in the end. Dan gets back his previous position as head of the sales division and Steckle is fired, and so is Carter. Shocked and saddened by corporate injustice, Carter decides he wants to go a different direction. Dan even tries to give him a job, but Carter turns him down. Carter has finally discovered who he really is, a sensitive young man, who is yet to pursue his own dreams.
I recommend this movie to anyone, who wants to watch a movie that truly sheds light on many of today’s realities. It is supremely well acted and brilliantly written. In Good Company, does a great job of examining the heart and soul of corporate America. This movie is also a tribute to family values. When you want to see a truly meaningful film with a few good laughs thrown in, see In Good Company.