Tuesday, January 25, 2005

film review: In Good Company

I’m glad Topher Grace is finally getting his due. For the last few years I’ve been trying to figure out how Ashton Kutcher became the breakout star of “That 70s Show.” I admit that I laugh at “Punk’d” every now again, but seriously, trucker hats? Not to mention that every character he plays is pretty much the same (though I haven’t seen The Butterfly Effect, so I’ll admit some ignorance). He just seems to be kind of a cocky idiot, and in my book that and dating Demi Moore should NOT make grounds for fame.

Look at Topher Grace, on the other hand. Not only is he one of the funniest people on “70’s” but he also takes interesting movie roles. I loved his cameos (as himself) in the Ocean’s movies, he’s also taken interesting roles in films like Traffic. And yes, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton was nothing special, but he was easily the best part of that movie.

In Paul Weitz’s In Good Company, Grace plays Carter Duryea, an ad executive who’s lost his way. Grace’s performance is gentle and understated—a man who’s getting exactly what he’s always wanted only to discover it may not be anything he cares about. His early-life crisis is touching, though perhaps that’s just because I can relate to it.

As talented as Grace is, though, I really think this is Dennis Quaid’s movie. Quaid plays Dan Foreman, who was recently displaced by (and is now working for) Duryea. Dennis Quaid is one of those actors who seemed to disappear for about fifteen years only to emerge better than ever. He plays Foreman as a man who can’t really believe what’s going on in his life, and you can see him making up his mind about what he’ll do as the movie progresses. He’s funny, put upon, annoyed, charismatic, and graceful all at the same time.

Don’t let the marketing of this movie fool you. Yes, it’s a little bit of a romantic comedy, but it’s really a movie about the relationship between these two men. Paul Weitz, who directed another favorite movie of mine a couple years ago (About a Boy) knows how to handle masculine characters that aren’t one-dimensional. They are fully developed and interesting, able to laugh, cry, or punch someone depending on the situation. Neither Foreman or Duryea is perfect, and for that they’re all the more real. They, like the movie, are full of surprises, but they’re surprises that just make you like them more.

In the end, this is a funny, thoughtful, enjoyable little film. Grade: A-.

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