A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this political spoof isn't likely to appeal to preteens, and even if it did, they'd miss many of the clever references. Future history majors, kids who know a lot about the early 1960s, and spy movie fans might get a kick out of it. Interested teens may be inspired to research the real events leading up to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Maybe a few will even take Allen's grammar lectures to heart. Still, parents should know that there's a lot of sexual innuendo and some drug references.
What's the story?
Allen Quimp (Douglas McGrath ) is a mild-mannered school teacher who makes up a story that he is a CIA agent. With that boast, Allen ends up bumbling his way into actually working for the CIA in Cuba. There a Cold War vigilante (John Turturro) asks for his help to take down Fidel Castro (Anthony LaPaglia).
Is it any good?
COMPANY MAN is a gleefully over-the-top production. Like Forrest Gump, Allen Quimp has a talent for ending up at the right place at the right time and inadvertently setting historical events into motion. Unlike the other movie, however, this is a film in which silly gags and slapstick, not gooey sentiments comparing life to a box of chocolates, rule. To best enjoy this political romp, viewers should have some familiarity with the early 1960s setting. Although most teens will appreciate jokes about JFK's famous philandering, Marilyn Monroe, and "nobody ever buying something called a compact disc," a gag about how future leader Mikhail Gorbachev got the famous mark on his head may fly over theirs.
Still, even kids who have slept through history class may enjoy the actors' manic, cartoonish performances. Sigourney Weaver's turn as a materialistic, social-climbing Connecticut housewife who utters line such as "If my book doesn't outsell the Bible, I'll lose my faith in God" evoked hearty laughter from a young audience. Equally popular was Douglas McGrath's obsessive grammatical policing. However, not every gag works. A scene in which Allen and company plan to give Castro a bottle of shampoo that's mixed with a depilatory (they figure a bald leader won't be taken as seriously) but ultimately ends up being used by Daisy falls flat. And General Batista singing "Diamonds Are a Boy's Best Friend" at a lounge favored by blue-haired Miami Beach senior citizens was equally awkward. But overall, the jokes that work compensate for the duds. And don't rule out a sequel -- when the movie ends, Allen is sent to another "quiet place" -- Vietnam.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the actual events surrounding the Bay of Pigs invasion. Do you have to understand the history in order to appreciate the movie's humor? Do you like movies and TV shows that present alternate takes on historical events? Does it make a difference whether they're comedies or dramas? Why?
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