Weekend Roundup and The Company Men review

Happy Monday, folks. My friends in the East Coast, I hope y’all stay safe. I was glued to the TV screen Saturday night watching all the coverage and reading people’s tweets about Hurricane Irene, wow, I definitely don’t take this beautiful weather in Minnesota for granted. We are very blessed indeed.

Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer in The Help

Well, looks like even the 50+ MPH wind doesn’t dampen The Help‘s box office take, earning over $14 mil to take the top spot for the 2nd week in a row. It’s made almost $100 million total which is very impressive! In fact, female stars dominated box office this weekend, Zoe Saldana’s Colombiana takes the #2 spot with about $10 mil (per BoxOfficeMojo). Granted it’s a pretty slow week and the crazy storm in the East Coast surely makes a dent in box office revenue.

I didn’t make it to the movies as it was quite a hectic weekend w/ my hubby doing his third (and last) triathlon of the year on Saturday, but we did manage to see The Company Men we got from Netflix. Here’s my review:

The Company Men (2010)

This is one of those movies I wanted to see because of the cast, but the timely subject matter about corporate downsizing certainly piqued my interest as well. The story revolves around the employees of the ship-building corporation called GTX who must face the ramifications of being laid off from their lucrative jobs. Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is the first ‘victim’ who once earned $120K plus bonuses and stock options as a sales executive. Then when the second round of downsizing takes place, Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) and Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) got let go as well.

Each of these guys deal with their job loss in their own way, but one thing they have in common is how they didn’t see it coming and they live well beyond their means. Right from the start, the film shows us just how these people live in giant homes (Gene’s house is practically a mansion!), dressed in expensive suits and driving luxury cars. The lay off was a huge wake-up call for Walker, the quintessential cocky ‘suit’ whose mantra is ‘I have to look successful.’ He drives a Porsche which is obviously more than he can afford given he’s got two young kids and a stay-at-home wife. It’s quite a contrast to Kevin Costner’s character Jack Dolan, Walker’s brother in-law who lives in modest home working as a carpenter. [My hubby couldn’t help notice the Superman connection between the two — Costner is playing Pa Kent in the upcoming Man of Steel, and Affleck played George Reeves in Hollywoodland] 😀

The film offers a poignant message about corporate greed as well as what happens when one puts one’s self worth in their careers and personal wealth. The entire identity of these men are tied to their jobs, no worse, what they earn from those jobs. It’s a painful topic that’s relevant to everyone living in this dismal economy, even if we’re blessed enough not to get laid off, we’re affected by it in one way or another. The movie also shows the effect not just on the adults but on the kids whose parents lose their jobs. Walker’s son was shown to have given up his X-Box because he knew his parents can’t afford it at this time… it’s at this moment where it’s clear that Walker realizes he too has to make some drastic changes and stop being delusional about his situation.

DeWitt as Maggie Walker

I like this film more than I thought though it’s certainly not without flaws. It could’ve been more tightly-written and less predictable, and it could also do without the rosy Hollywood ending. But I appreciate the honest and almost its matter-of-fact-ness of John Well’s directing. Wells also wrote the script based on the real-life experience of one of his family members, combined with research/interviews with people suffering from corporate downsizing.

The performances are definitely worth a watch, Affleck doesn’t quite shine in his more subtle performances but he’s affecting enough and the drastic shift in his character’s demeanor is quite believable. Jones and Cooper are in top form as always and their scenes together are memorable, but Costner is a bit underused here though his character is supposed to represent the blue-collar workers in this story. The actor also doesn’t age gracefully, I almost didn’t recognize him from the trailer as he looks like he’s well over 60!

No, I’m NOT Idris Elba 😀

I think my favorite character is Rosemary DeWitt as Affleck’s supportive and sensible wife. I like DeWitt’s performance and her character Maggie who keeps the family together. I love that Wells wrote such a strong female role and hire the right actress for the job, though the rest of the female characters are far from being commendable. I just have to comment about Maria Bello, must she take her clothes off in every film?? Seems so unnecessary in this film that I find it very jarring. Oh and I also have to give a shout out to Eamonn Walker, who I thought was Idris Elba at first, apparently he’s also a Londoner. I LOVE his character Danny who becomes friends with Walker, their scene on the roof is pretty comical.

So overall this was well worth a rent. Too bad it bombed at the box office, but at the same time it didn’t quite have the same ‘oomph’ as Up in the Air which deals with a similar subject matter.

3.5 reels
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Well, what movie(s) did you watch this weekend? If you’ve seen The Company Men, I’d love to hear what you think.