HTF HD-DVD Review: In Good Company

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Neil Middlemiss, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    [​IMG]

    In Good Company


    US Release Date: July 24, 2007

    The Film - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    “Why do you say let them go? They don't WANT to go. Why don't you just say fire them?”

    Paul Weitz, the writer and director of In Good Company has an interesting resume. He directed the adolescent fun-phenomenon that was 1999’s American Pie and in 2002, directed the touching and funny About a Boy, giving us perhaps Hugh Grant’s most impressive performance to date. Comedy has definitely been a gift for this director, but always with a distinctly un-saccharin kindness at its core.

    In Good Company is the story of two people at different ends of life’s spectrum. On one end is Dan, a post middle aged family man, father of two teenage girls and head of the Marketing Sales group at ‘Sports America’ magazine. On the other end is Carter, a young corporate hound. At 26, he is career driven, success focused and naïve to a fault. Through the inevitable shift and shuffle of the corporate world, when a global conglomerate, Globecom, buys out the parent company of the sports magazine, Dan is demoted, some of his team laid off and an inexperienced twenty-something from the GlobeCom universe is placed at the head of the department. Carter becomes Dan’s boss.

    It may sound like a good set up for some standard farcical fair, but ‘In Good Company’ doesn’t make the choices that would place this film in the Adam Sandler realm of movie comedy. Rather, writer/director Weitz, along with his co-writer/producer brother Chris, find a totally different tone and story to tell under that rather simple premise. The film is billed as a comedy, and from the audio commentary, that is for all intents and purposes what is believed to be delivered, but In Good Company is a tender and real and unclassifiable film that has elements both drama and comedy.

    The film is truly intriguing. It makes unexpected choices that defy the logic of conventions. It begins under the comedy premise, moves in to a romantic comedy posture but ultimately swings past that and back into the main vein of the film, a story about opposites and the bonds that can be born from growing in ways you least expect. The pitting of old vs. young, flash vs. foundation, experience vs. inexperience and all the pitfalls that inherit those states, is where the film becomes richer and far more rewarding.

    Dennis Quaid (Innerspace, Frequency) plays the victim of corporate America’s unfeeling maneuvers, Dan Foreman, Topher Grace (That 70’s Show) plays the arrogant but charming Carter Duryea and Scarlett Johansson (Match Point) plays Alex Foreman, Dan’s daughter headed to college and romantic entanglement interest for Carter.

    The performances are all very strong, but they do not play into the dramatic nature of the story, in fact, they mostly play against that, creating an honesty and realism that helps anchor even the most unlikely of comedic set-ups. Quaid delivers the dialogue with an unusual honesty, giving us one of his best performances. Topher is perhaps the greatest accomplishment, carrying many scenes and doing so by perfectly balancing a disarming and generally mild demeanor with the innocent arrogance and charming naiveté. Scarlett is beautifully understated, capturing the young, inexperienced daughter extremely well and never falling into melodrama with the issues she tackles. Marg Helgenberger (C.S.I) as Dan’s wife, along with David Paymer, Selma Blair and Clark Gregg, provide a nicely rounded out supporting cast.

    The fatherly nature to the film is warm and authentic and the relationship that develops between the three main characters is identifiable, and connects the audience with the characters. Adding to the films strengths is a solid soundtrack that includes many acoustic guitar driven songs that have appropriately whimsical lyrics, including a couple from the talented 'Shins'. All together, this film is a charismatic winner.




    The Video - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    In Good Company is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:85.1 and VC-1 encoded. The image is nice and clean, pretty sharp for the most part and suitable for the film. It isn’t perfect, with some grain noticeable and minor imperfections, but this is reasonably nice transfer.





    The Sound - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Universal Studios have provided In Good Company with a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound option. The film is primarily driven by dialogue and is heard almost exclusively from the center channel. It is good and clean but beyond that, this audio track is a little tepid, lacking any real dimension or depth. The New York street scenes come across moderate at best and, perhaps from the nature of the great songs used, there isn’t much bass to be found in the track either. It may generally fit this kind of film, but somehow I feel more could have been done with the audio for this film.




    The Extra’s - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Behind the Scenes: - Seven behind the scene snippets are presented separately from the main menu. These run three minutes each on average and cover the actors, characters, life in corporate America, the filming locations and the process of editing the film. The ‘Real Life’ and ‘Editing’ pieces are the more interesting of the bunch.

    Stars - (3:02)
    Youth - (2:39)
    Getting Older - (2:19)
    Real Life - (4:03)
    Locations - (3:15)
    Editing - (4:14)
    Story - (4:01)

    Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Writer/Director Paul Weitz: - (16:07) – The film was, according to the director, originally 2hrs 45 minutes when first assembled. The process of trimming it down to the 1hr 50 minute theatrical running time included the excising of these scenes (plus many more, it would seem, not found on this release). These scenes, had they been left in, would have gone a long way to making the film more of a comedy. It seems in editing the film, the tone moved away from the laughter to the drama and relationships. That gets no complaints from me as it is a far more interesting film now, I feel, with the comedy deemphasized.

    Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Paul Weitz and Actor Topher Grace : - This audio commentary provides a good perspective on some of the directorial choices made to further the story and tone. Topher and Paul have a humorous dynamic which makes the two hours quite entertaining. This isn’t a particularly informative commentary track on a technical level, but it comes with good anecdotes and refreshing honesty from both participants.






    Final Thoughts

    In Good Company captures corporate America well, with the endless greed of chasing a lower bottom line and the human carnage often left in its wake, it sets up the environment with an eye of experience. This is a very tender, human film that has moments that will make you laugh, but not enough that I would comfortably classify this film as a comedy.
    Besides not comfortably fitting into the category of comedy, In Good Company is a lovely film, with excellent performances, relatable situations and an undeniable charm. This is the kind of company you should keep.





    Overall Score - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Neil Middlemiss
    Kernersville, NC
     
  2. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Mine just arrived. I ordered it unseen, based on reviews and recommendations.

    Your review makes me even more curious. Excellent review, BTW.
    Thanks, Neil!


    Cees
     
  3. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Cees - When you have had a chance to watch this one, let me know what you think!

    Thanks!
    Neil
     

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