In Good Company

Recommended with Caution. I was moved by this story of a fifty-year old being demoted in his ad sales job, and getting a new boss who is 26 years old, knows nothing about ads or sales and is falling in love with the fifty-year old’s daughter. I guess because it rings close to home, as I get older, I see how age is not respected in this culture and youth and ambition is worshipped to the detriment of humanity. That’s what this great movie is all about. Some will no doubt see this as TV type storytelling. But I say, if so, it is the best dang TV I have ever seen. So much heart and humanity and love in this film. Dennis Quaid, one of the best underappreciated actors ever. He is so “everyman” it’s amazing. And that’s why I relate to his character. So, the 26 year old is named Carter and he represents the typical ambitious young shark learning what it takes to climb the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, because of his workaholism and worship of career, he loses his new wife (not without her own sin of adultery and immaturity). Quaid, playing Dan Foreman, learns his Sports magazine has just been acquired by a media mogul played like a Ted Turner by Malcom McDowell. Meanwhile, Carter takes his cues from his young shark boss, a heartless soulless snake, who ultimately turns against Carter. So the whole thing is a comparison of family values of community and people and loyalty versus corporate greed and using and heartlessness. The movie has a realistic share of the heartless layoffs of loyal workers, the stress of wondering if you are going to be next, etc. Scarlett Johanson, plays Dan’s daughter, Alex, with poise and elegance. The comparison of young Carter without a life and nothing but career versus Dan, who has family and is actually happy with an uneventful life. That’s what makes this movie so emotionally powerful, because it actually portrays a normal family life, not as boring or dreadful, but as a satisfying good life, and even as more desireable than a “successful” career. Boy, ain’t that rare in movies. Carter starts the movie as the guy who is cutting employees and ruthlessly pursuing his success. But by the end, he has seen in Dan’s family that very meaning he craves and cannot have. “I want my life to mean something the way this all means something to you.” He can’t believe that Dan actually believes in his company’s product so that he makes a big sale saying, “The best thing about it is, it really is the best thing for the client to come on board.” Carter asks him, “you really believe in this stuff.” “Why else would I do it?” replies Dan. Yes, the dinosaur ways of the old school meant that you sold products to people cause you believed in the product and wanted to help the person. And it shows this “dinosaur” old school as superior to the new school that conceives of people in terms of marketing demographics and consumers without souls. I loved it. So the kid learns that if he wants to find the meaning that Dan has, he has to act with Dan’s character. So when it comes time to fire Dan, Carter makes the choice to go down with him, but they save the day because they work together cooperatively rather than competitively. What’s cool about this story is that at the end of it, the guy doesn’t get the girl. Carter doesn’t get Dan’s daughter. Carter makes the right choice at the end, but is only a beginning. Changes can occur, but lives take a while to process and fully change. Character takes time, step by step of making the right choices. The value of family in this story was amazing. Almost to the point of unbelievablitity. When Dan discovers his daughter is seeing Carter, he wants to know if she is sleeping with him and feels betrayed by her dishonesty in hiding it from him. He even slugs Carter, in what I consider a rather unfair reaction. After all, their attraction was without any connection to Dan. And so what if they fall in love with each other. What does that really have to do with Dan, other than his pride that the kid is his boss? But so what? But I think it had more to do with Carter’s lack of character. One likeable aspect of Carter was the fact that he was completely honest around the daughter. She says, “Wow, you are incredibly honest” to his openness about his faults. He says, “No, actually, I’m not usually. Just around you.” Great romantic line of truth. Anyway, by now, the daughter is going to NYU, but she breaks up with Carter and tells her dad it wasn’t because of him, it was because of her. She just needed to focus on her education. But somehow underneath it, we can’t help but know that her father’s disappointment was what helped her realize her own choices were immature. She realizes Dan took out a second mortgage to pay for her education and she was not respecting that sacrifice by making mature choices like focusing on that education that was worked hard for. Amazing that this kind of stuff comes from a Hollywood movie. Parents are right? Romantic “Love” is not god? Yeah!! But I must say one major disappointment is the fornication that is very “naturally” a part of the daughter’s relationship with Carter. Of course, Hollywood assumes true love must be consummated with fornication and this is so assumed by our culture, that to even bring it up as an objection marks me as a fundamentalist religious fanatic from the Dark Ages. But the truth is, you will never understand the depth of true love if you do not love truly. And true love waits. Simple as that. True love respects the act of sex as a holy union with special status between a man and woman committed for life, not an act engaged in with people you have good feelings about. That is a devaluation of love and dilutes its specialness. But of course people who engage in premarital or extramarital relations do not understand this because they have never lived it. Those who do not delay their gratification do not understand that delayed gratification is EVEN more pleasurable. Now, those who delay sexuality until they are “in love” with someone may be a step close than the promiscuous, but they’re still missing it. They’re missing the component of sexuality that can only be achieved through life long commitment, the component of intimacy. And yet, ironically, intimacy is the one thing they are all trying to find! Ah well… Another thing about the depiction of modern corporate culture as heartless, soulless, backstabbing and concerned only about the bottom line. As in the movie, megamergers become absurd giants of soulless marketing enterprises devoid of concern for people, defining them as consumers etc. Now, the reason I didn’t get the feeling that this was the typical Hollywood socialist or Communist attack on capitalism is because it contrasted the worst of corporate megalomania not with a Marxist or Michael Moore type view of so-called “social justice,” but a moral view. It was caring for people, human beings, family and loyalty, versus the dehumanization of people into objects of conquest and consumers to manipulate. The problem with the Marxist /socialistå screeching about social justice is that they conceive of the individual in the same exact terms as does the greedy multinational corporate conglomerate. People are not humans, they are “groups” of objects defined by their communities, to be manipulated for their own good. They have no will or even responsibility to leftists. They are VICTIMS. And Victims must be engineered to be saved. And of course, who has the goodness and freedom to control them? Why the leftists of course. Back to the dehumanization of megacorporations. Let’s face it, our culture is becoming more and more heartless and less family driven. The Ted Turner guy in the movie tries to paint the picture of their company becoming a new democracy, with a new electorate, a new country. I think that this kind of culture is in fact resulting from the creation of multinational companies. Nationalism is being replaced by multinational marketing. Corporations are defining people in terms of money and are repatriating loyalties away from family and nation into the dollar. The attempt to abolish countries and nations is not driven by egalitarianism, but by a dictatorship of the soul. You don’t abolish nations, you replace them with a new authority. Multinationalism is not a “sensitivity” to other cultures and worldwide harmony without “the bigotry of nationalism.” Multinationalism is ultimately a betrayal of the “masses” into slavery under a new oligarchy of the super-rich. It’s great that the movie had an appropriate critique of such consumer culture and multinational corporate heartlessness without being Marxist. Of course, the ultimate irony is that it is a multinational megamedia corporate conglomerate that funded the movie critiquing such multinational megamedia corporate mindset. Ah, the ironies of life.