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

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

30 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup and The Company Men review

  1. I saw Barry Lyndon, Dr. Srangeove, North by Northwest, and Shadow of a Doubt. I am hoping to do a post on Kubrick soon, as his filmography isn’t very large. I will probably do a post on Hitchcock later

    And your review has piqued my interest in Company Men

    1. Oh cool Julian, looks like a busy wknd viewing for you. Did you like North by Northwest? Looking forward to your Hitchcock post, I’m still trying to catch more of his films actually. Company Men is definitely worth a rent, it’s not a ‘flashy’ movie but has a very good message.

      1. Yes. I did notice its a lot more glamorous than Hitchcocks usual pictures(from what i’ve seen anyways).

        Btw i may tweet a pic i took after irene’s thankfully minor aftermath in my yard. I think it came out particularly good.

  2. I saw the trailer for ‘Company Men’ at a screening for Affleck’s ‘The Town’ awhile back (Brn was there, too, to discuss the film). I do want to see it, even more now that you’ve reviewed it, Ruth. I like Idris Elba, as well (started taking note of him with Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Tears From The Sun’). Fine review. Thanks.

    p.s., I saw ‘Colombiana’ this weekend and enjoyed it — mostly for Ms. Saldana 😉

    1. Ahah, that’s not Idris Elba, Michael, Mr. Walker does look a lot like him though as I mistook him for Elba also and turns out they’re both British.

      Glad you enjoyed Colombiana, I’m sure Saldana’s fans will be pleased w/ that one 🙂

      1. Hi, Ruth, le0pard and company:

        ‘The Company Men’ sounds like a lot of fun with a top of the line cast. Been a fan of Tommy Lee Jones since his very early ‘Jackson County Jail’ and ‘Rolling Thunder’ days.. Also Chris Cooper since ‘Lone Star’.

        Eamonn Walker has been around for quite a while.fleshing out small roles in some rather large films. Including ‘Tears of The Sun’ and ‘Lord Of War’. I remember first seeing Mr. Walker as the moderate leader of one of the two groups of Muslim inmates in HBO’s ‘Oz’..

        1. Hello Jack, see I knew you’d know who Eamonn Walker is, you always knew so much more about us movie bloggers, ahah. Yeah, I started going through his IMDb page and found out he’s been in a bunch of stuff. Can’t believe I’ve missed him, but I’m glad I know who he is now. I like him right away when he started talking to Affleck’s character, it blew me away that he’s a Brit!

  3. PrairieGirl

    Saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith… it was really over-the-top in more than one place, but it was interesting seeing the film that made Brad and Angelina THE couple.

    1. Wow, I didn’t think you’d like that movie! It was quite fun actually despite how I felt about Brangelina, but yeah, this is definitely the movie Jennifer Aniston should avoid, ahah.

  4. I have been curious about The Company Men since it was released on DVD. Now I am even more interested in checking it out, thanks to your positive review.

    I saw three movies this weekend. Our Idiot Brother, which was enjoyable, My Fair Lady, which I caught at “Movies in the Park” with my girlfriend (better than expected, as I don’t care much for musicals), and No Strings Attached, which was utterly terrible.

    1. Hi Eric, it’s worth a watch, let me know when you get around to seeing it.

      Oooh, My Fair Lady! I adore that movie as I love Audrey Hepburn, good for you to see that w/ your GF, ‘Movies in the Park’ sounds awesome, where was that at? Meh, I’d never see No Strings Attached, there is absolutely nothing that interest me about that film, especially the plot.

      1. Movies in the Park is a summer series here in Chicago. It used to be held only downtown in Grant Park, but this summer they expanded to parks all throughout the city. It’s really cool; they usually play a mix of classics and recent family films.

        As for No Strings Attached, I was mildly interested because I like Natalie Portman, but even she can’t make the film the slightest bit respectable. Just horrible all around.

        1. Oh lovely! I think I’ve been to Grant Park, man I miss Chicago, I haven’t been there in a while. I’m quite surprised that Natalie signs on to crap like that, I mean w/ Ashton Kutcher?? Ah well I’m sure she regrets it now.

  5. Ahaha yea the rosy ending… In real life, Affleck would be a long-term unemployed on food stamps :P. I liked The Company Men, the cast keeps the movie afloat and compelling enough. As with The Town, you can see that Affleck is a bit limited acting-wise but he doesn’t try too hard so it’s not a problem.

    1. Ahah, so true!! I mean, $90K/year salary for a start up company?? Get real! But the cast really kept my interest so not a bad movie at all. I’m warming up to Affleck more and more, but still I won’t call him a ‘great’ actor, but Jones & Cooper on the other hand, are always excellent.

  6. Ted S.

    I totally forgot about this film, I remember seeing the trailer last fall but it came and went in theater. I might give it a rent, since I’m currently job searching it might not be a good flick to watch. Ha ha. I actually went to see Up in the Air a week after I got laid off from my last job, that was not a good idea. The movie was good though.

    1. Ahah, it might hit too close to home for job hunters I think. Man, there is that one scene where Chris Cooper’s character is lining up w/ a bunch of new MBA graduates dressed in black suits, it’s just soooo sad. Oy, you must be quite angry seeing some of the scenes in Up in the Air considering what just happened to you.

  7. well written review, ruth! not my cup of tea but i’m sure to catch this on dvd in the coming weeks (or streaming). I wasn’t planning on it as the trailer did not pique my interest but your review did…

  8. I’m glad you watched and reviewed this one, Ruth, as i didn’t. It didn’t really grab my interest even with its cast. But I am happy to hear it impressed you more than you initially thought.

    props to your hubby for the Superman connection! way to go there.

    I may watch this one down the line, but it’s not moved up on my ever expanding list of must-see’s! 🙂

    Great comprehensive review my friend!

    1. Y’know, I might not have watched it if it weren’t for the cast, but then I’d miss out on the message which I think it quite poignant. Ha..ha.. he’s such a geek, he suddenly quipped about the Superman thing as soon as he saw them together 😀

  9. Happy Monday…er i mean tuesday!!

    I haven’t even heard of this film let alone seen it!! Although the review you have written has certainly got me interested in seeing it if I see it on TV at some point!!

    Thanks for writing this lovely review my friend

    1. Hey Scottie, glad you had some family time on your bank holiday. Thanks for stopping by as always, matey. This is worth a rental or TV viewing, I think you’ll at least come away with an appreciation that you have a job! 😀

  10. Watched this right after I saw the Inside Job documentary, because of it this movie seemed to have more impact as you could see the impact of the crisis on people in middle management. Great review!

  11. I think I just went into this expecting more Kevin Costner. Still enjoyed it and it was a film that did a great job of taking the temperature of those hit bu the financial meltdown. The performances kept it from being as depressing as the source martial but I don’t see myself watching it again…even with the oh so forced uplifting ending:P

    1. Hi Marc, yeah I don’t think I’ll be seeing it again either, but for a one-time viewing it was well worth it. Glad you agree about the ending, but I guess Hollywood can’t help ending things on a high note.

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