The Company Men Movie Poster Image

The Company Men

(i)

 

Thoughtful, heavy drama about the downsized.
  • Review Date: January 22, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:January 21, 2011
DVD release date:June 7, 2011
Cast:Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones
Director:John Wells
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Genre:Drama
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and brief nudity

This review of The Company Men was written by

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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.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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-workers Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers. Bobby soon finds himself enduring enthusiastic life coaching, a job building houses for his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner) which does not play to his executive skill set, and perhaps the realization that there is more to life than chasing the bigger, better deal. With humor, pathos, and keen observation, writer-director John Wells (the creator of "ER") introduces us to the new realities of American life. wow this movie touched my heart, i was waiting for this movie to come since its release date was being changed from time to time which was annoying. this movie is a completely good experience. a very simple movie with a right type of chord. it features the economic meltdown that we experienced and its effect of some of these people shown. makes the feel of this movie heartbreaking. i liked it. its not UP IN THE AIR of course since that one was outstanding and the whole storyline and feel was quite different from this one. and i found my first 4 stars movie this year, lol. star cast was stunning according to me. i really like Ben Affleck he is good and talented and down to earth kind. he is just a perfect gentlemen according to me. i would say this is Ben Affleck's one of the the very best performance. he was so good in this movie and was being perfectly cast. loved him. Tommy Lee Jones was above average in it. Chris Cooper was very good. Maria Bello and kevin Costner weren't seen much but they were good too. so performance wise it was a good movie. direction of this movie was perfect and very appropriate. screenplay was engaging and well written. good story. cinematography was excellent. editing could have been slightly better. i really liked the background score too, lovely. i don't know why this movie didn't got the attention of film festivals and awards ceremonies. i must admit it is slow moving, sometimes boring but everything in it is so well paced that you won't get bored. i enjoyed and liked this movie very much. its a reality based kind of haunting movie. but with a very feel good end. i loved it and so will you.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
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 and Affleck are especially good in this downsize drama with a lot of tender, funny moments. The ending bothered me a bit, but it's worth a fine rental. Pretty strong language and a bit of 2 second pointless nudity; fine for older teens.
What other families should know
Too much swearing

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