Writer-director Paul Weitz's sharp eye and ear for corporate weasel words and hollow displays of team spirit get lost in a stream of good-news-bad-news gags in this not-dark-enough workplace comedy about a veteran executive who's abruptly demoted and forced to play wingman to an eager beaver half his age. Middle-aged Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) has spent...read more
Writer-director Paul Weitz's sharp eye and ear for corporate weasel words and hollow displays of team spirit get lost in a stream of good-news-bad-news gags in this not-dark-enough workplace comedy about a veteran executive who's abruptly demoted and forced to play wingman to an eager beaver half his age. Middle-aged Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) has spent more than 20 years at "Sports America" magazine, managing a crack ad-sales team and cultivating a loyal network of repeat advertisers. Married to Ann (Marg Helgenberger) and the devoted father of two nearly grown daughters he clearly wishes would stay little girls for just a bit longer — high-school-age Jana (Zena Grey) and the bright and beautiful Alex (Scarlett Johansson), an accomplished amateur tennis player who's just started college — Dan's beautiful home and domestic bliss come with the usual financial obligations. On top of the second mortgage required to finance Alex's transfer to NYU, Dan is about to face a raft of unanticipated expenses with the late-life baby his wife is expecting. None of this worries Dan excessively until multinational conglomerate Globecom stomps in and acquires "Sports America"'s parent company, bringing the inevitable influx of new management, including ruthless corporate quisling Steckle (Clark Gregg) and his callow protege, 26-year-old Carter Duryea (Topher Grace). Fresh off an insidious campaign to market cell phones to toddlers, Carter appropriates Dan's title and office knowing absolutely nothing about ad sales, and begins implementing Steckle's mandate to trim the budget and increase revenue by a preposterous 20% by firing senior management. Carter's shallow "Get psyched!" speeches and glib corporate-speak about synergy and cross-platform promotion do nothing to endear him to Dan and the shell-shocked staff, though Dan's glimpses of the desperate neediness behind Carter's smooth facade awaken a certain sense of paternal pity. What Dan has yet to learn is that Carter and Alex have begun a clandestine affair, the ultimate merger of professional and personal betrayal. Quaid and Grace have an unforced rapport, Grace's lament in OCEAN'S TWELVE, released shortly before this picture, that he phoned in his role in "the Dennis Quaid film" notwithstanding. If the movie overall had the bitter brio of Malcolm McDowell's brief turn as Globecom guru Teddy K, a Franken-mogul stitched together from bits of Richard Branson, Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch, it would be a pointed black comedy. Instead, it's an inconsequential sitcom spiked with a couple of well-placed barbs.
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