The Company Men

This latest outing by prolific writer/director/producer John Wells ("West Wing" and "ER") gives us a contemporary peek at the higher echelons of Corporate America from the inside, and then after a couple waves of downsizing, from the outside.

Wells has assembled a first-rate cast, so let's talk about some of them:
  • Ben Affleck ("The Town") personifies the blindsided young executive who thinks he is ten feet tall and bulletproof; we almost WANT to see him get his comeuppance (how do you spell schadenfreude?). He has a beautiful wife in a leafy Boston suburb, two children, a lovely (mortgaged) house, a Porsche and a great job. Life is good....
  • Chris Cooper ("The Tempest") watched that first wave sweep away many of his colleagues and is terrified that he might be next. When he is, his wife still makes him take his briefcase and leave each day "so the neighbors won't know."
  • Tommy Lee Jones ("No Country for Old Men") is a founding partner but gets the ax, nonetheless. It is his voice that speaks for us as he bemoans America's "product" these days: "Nothing we can see, feel, touch or smell, just numbers." Even the bags under his eyes have bags!
  • Maria Bello ("Grown Ups") is the Human Resources hit man. She delivers pink slips to executives... In fact, she screws them several ways...
  • Rosemarie DeWitt ("Rachel Getting Married") plays Affleck's loyal wife: resourceful, flexible and wise. She keeps track of what's important for her family.
  • Craig T. Nelson ("The Proposal") is the CEO/founding partner. He and his Board of Directors are saddled with stockholders' unrealistic expectations: They want to see a profit on every quarterly report.
  • Kevin Costner ("Swing Vote") is Affleck's blue-collar brother-in-law who has a construction company. He is currently remodeling a house and insults Affleck by offering him a job that entails manual labor.
One tone-deaf executive wife, oblivious to the carnage at her husband's office, wants to use the corporate jet so she can play golf in Florida with a friend.

We see our hapless heroes attend a job search seminar, re-write their résumés, dye their hair, jockey for appointments, and deal with rejection. I found the ending a little too pat, but we feel privy to how today's business world works (and doesn't work), and the cast is absolutely top notch.