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 film has some explicit sexual references and situations for a PG-13, though there's no nudity. Characters use strong language, drink, and smoke. Some viewers may be disturbed by the economic upheavals and lay-offs.
What's the story?
IN GOOD COMPANY follows the evolving relationship between business associates Carter, who is green at just 26 years old, and his old school colleague Dan (Dennis Quaid). They're both employed at a company where things are changing to a slicker, bottom line-oriented and less personal way of doing business. Carter is put in charge of ad sales for a slick sports magazine, an event that pushes Dan aside. Dan would like to leave the company since the new environment doesn't suit his style, but he must support his family including college student Alex (Scarlett Johansson). His prospects for getting another job that would pay for all of that are poor at his age and in this market. Carter's sharp, but he doesn't know anything about ad sales. Dan's essential decency, combined with his sense of what is necessary for survival, leads him to reach out to Carter. And when Carter makes a shameless ploy to be invited over for dinner, Dan brings him home. Carter sees all that Dan has and for once he stops selling. He tells Alex that for some reason, she is the only one he feels he has to tell the truth to. And they begin a romance.
Is it any good?
The script of In Good Company feels patched together and some of those patched-together pieces feel very stale -- the corporate raider element of the plot is about 15 years out of date. There is nothing wrong with making the movie about the journeys taken by both Dan and Carter, but it doesn't quite manage to do that; instead it seems to equivocate, itself not clear on who the movie is about. The seams show worst with the ending, which is particularly artificial.
But there is a lot of compensation in exceptionally warm and fully-realized performances by all of the principals. Quaid makes Dan feel complete and lived-in, and he makes his marriage feel real and lived-in as well. Grace is one of today's most promising young actors, and he makes what could easily have been a shallow character into something special, showing us Carter's strength, intelligence, and ability as well as his longing and insecurity. The relationships they put on the screen are far greater than what was on the page -- now that's synergy. These are people who are very good company indeed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of their own experiences in the workplace with difficult supervisors or pressure to meet aggressive financial goals. Some family members may want to learn a little bit more about the pressures that create opportunities for those, like Teddy K, to exploit employees and investors for their own benefit.
- In theaters: December 29, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: May 10, 2005
- Cast: Dennis Quaid, Scarlett Johansson, Topher Grace
- Director: Paul Weitz
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some sexual content and drug references
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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