Company Man

Kevin Clemons

For those wondering how a movie starring Sigourney Weaver, Denis Leary, John Turturro, Woody Allen, and Ryan Phillippe quickly came and went from theaters faster than it will take you to read this review, the answer is simple. Despite this immense star power, Company Man just isn't very good. Playing like a low rent Woody Allen picture, (Allen has just a cameo in the film) Company Man seems to believe that it is a hysterically funny comedy; most who watch it will be inclined to disagree.

Allen Quimp (McGrath) is the living his version of the American dream in 1959. He spends his days teaching high school grammar and drivers education, as well as correcting the use of the English language to anyone who faults it. To his wife Daisy (Weaver), Allen is perhaps the most boring man on Earth, as well as a bad choice for a husband considering his mundane job. Allen's life changes when he is mistaken for an international spy and is sent to Cuba where things are heating up. As Allen goes on with his new lifestyle he meets, among others; a Russian ballet dancer (Phillippe) hoping to defect to the U.S.; a manic ex-CIA operative (Turturro); a mysterious Mister X (Leary), and Fidel Castro (Lapaglia).

To its credit, the plot of Company Man certainly has unlimited potential. This could have been a sort of return to the screwball comedies made frequently in the 1960s. Instead, directors Douglas McGrath and Peter Askin (who co-wrote the script as well) have crafted an eighty-minute comedy skit that goes nowhere. Several characters are introduced that have no bearing on the plot, yet take up screen time that could have been spent making sense of the jumbled mess that McGrath and Askin have created.

It is seldom seen that one person can single-handedly bring down a motion picture, but with Company Man Douglas McGrath proves that that nightmare can become a reality. As a writer, McGrath has proven himself to be talented in the past with efforts including Emma and Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, and to be fair, the script for Company Man is not without its comedic moments. Yet in his direction and acting, McGrath seems to lack the command needed to helm a satire with a large cast. Often his more talented supporting cast overshadows him, and his direction leaves little impression.

Anyone who glances at the cover art for Company Man will be intrigued (as I was), and give the film a spin. With a cast comprised of numerous award winners and nominees it is hard to imagine that any performance could be less than winning, though several of the actors test that statement. Weaver seems underused in the token female role. The supporting cast, featuring the likes of Ryan Phillippe, Denis Leary, and John Turturro, ranges from over-the-top (Turturro) to seemingly embarrassed by the dialogue (as Leary often does), to massacring a Russian accent (Phillippe). Only Woody Allen gives a winning performance, though his role takes up a total of five minutes out of the eighty one minute running time.

In the end it is disappointing to see Company Man fail. Though it is hard to gauge just what drags the picture down most (is it the acting, direction, or the writing?), it could just simply be that my expectations overwhelmed my response. I can't help but wonder how the picture would play if expectations weren't as high considering the talent involved, but then I realize that the script and direction would still drag every thing down, and my head starts to hurt. Perhaps I am thinking more about this film than I really should be.

The latest in a long line of disappointments brought on by large ensemble casts, Company Man may just be the worst. It is unfunny and at times incoherent. Just skip it and move on to something else.

Copyright © DigitallyObsessed