The Company Men

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Company Men Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful, heavy drama about the downsized.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie makes the point that many people define themselves by their work and by the stuff they buy with the money they earn at work -- and, in doing so, sometimes neglect more important things, including family and loyalty. The characters in this film learn a new set of values after being stripped of the jobs that are, initially, the core of their identities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the executives are notable for their loyalty to their employees, going out of their way to protect jobs and take care of their longtime colleagues. Others are smarmy corporate suits who are happy to take home a fat paycheck while laying off thousands of people in an attempt to boost the company’s stock price. While it’s clear that loyalty is to be valued, those who lack it still get rich. It’s just business.

Violence

One man, dispirited and depressed, throws rocks at his former office building.

Sex

A woman is briefly shown topless after getting out of bed; her naked back is also seen, as are shots of her putting on a bra. Couples are sometimes shown talking in bed, before or after having sex.

Language

Frequent language includes “s--t,” “d--k,” “f--k,” and “motherf--ker.”

Consumerism

Many consumer brands are mentioned or appear on screen, including a Porsche and Titleist golf clubs. One of the film's key themes is the accumulation of expensive consumer products, and some scenes feature people talking about expensive purchases and planning shopping trips.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking. Several scenes take place in bars as disheartened, unemployed people drown their frustrations and are sometimes shown quite drunk. One character smokes occasionally.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this timely and topical drama -- which focuses on three executives who are forced to reexamine their values after losing their jobs -- is likely to be much more relatable for adults than for teens. There's also some mature content, including brief nudity, a lot of swearing ("s--t," "f--k," and more), and a good deal of drinking (including characters drinking to drown their sorrows). On the up side, characters who are initially invested in the material comforts of an increasingly upscale life learn that loyalty to friends and family is more important than pride.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykhan2705 March 13, 2011

a good drama, loved it.

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves him and co-w... Continue reading
Adult Written byfeministandscho... February 6, 2011
Parents need to know that there is brief nudity in this film. A woman is shown topless very briefly. If the purpose of this site is to inform parents, you mis... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byleahxo August 15, 2011

Felt Like Four Hours.

Not something to watch again for sure. I was disappointed - good actors but a boring, stretched out movie.
Teen, 16 years old Written byBestPicture1996 January 26, 2013

Painfully real

As a teenager with a mom currently in financial woes, I can totally relate to this movie, except that I never had a 7 figure house in the first place. Cooper a... Continue reading

What's the story?

After putting distance between himself and his unglamorous, modest childhood by building a privileged life in a leafy suburb funded by a six-figure sales job at a multinational corporation, Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) finds himself downsized. He’s sure he'll find a replacement soon, an optimism that his more realistic wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) doesn’t share. His former colleague, Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper), worries that he’s next, while their boss, Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones), feels increasingly bereft by the failing economy and the layoffs that are destroying the company that he and his college roommate, now-CEO James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson), envisioned. None of them can predict the cost that all these changes will ultimately exact.

Is it any good?

A deeply empathetic film about men and women left unmoored after losing their jobs, it hits the right note. Hollywood sometimes glosses over the true impact of real-life struggles in the service of entertainment; THE COMPANY MEN, thankfully, does not. It tells a story that -- though nearly too tragic yet very familiar -- still needs to be told. Watching it is a sobering experience (and, it has to be said, pretty depressing).

Everyone in the cast plays it right, striking a strong balance between maudlin and true. Affleck begins the movie with a strut and ends it humbled but still standing, and Jones manages to stay sympathetic despite playing a character who, for the most part, is financially untouched by the winds of change. But it’s Cooper who’s most troubling, standing in for those who are truly devastated. The film may have its inadequacies -- a grating obviousness, for one -- but it’s a triumph, nevertheless, for a movie about defeated times.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how movies (and other media) reflect the state of society. Should movies offer escapist entertainment, or do they have a duty to address real-life problems?

  • How do the characters change over the course of the movie? What do they learn? How does the way they identify themselves shift?

  • Do you think businesses owe loyalty to their employees or their shareholders? Are layoffs just part of business?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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