Like a rolling stone

Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid live a life you’ll never be able to afford

Claire Joseph

.This is the main question posed in Paul Weitz’s film, “In Good Company.”

The movie’s hypocritical answer to this question, and to the rest of life’s problems for that matter, is that although in today’s business world it is often necessary to give up one’s individuality to remain financially afloat, those who stay true to themselves will achieve lifelong happiness and even the utmost economic success.

Idealistic, isn’t it?

Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is a 51-year-old head of advertising sales at Sports America, a big-name magazine. The day after he finds out

his wife is pregnant with their third child, he learns he will lose his job to Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), a 26-year-old who, besides his friendships with some people at the top, has no real qualifications for the job.

Although in real life this would symbolize the end of Dan’s career at Sports America, Carter unrealistically keeps him around as his “wingman” and second in command.

While Carter, a guy who doesn’t even really know how to drive, is putting around in his new, already-dented Porsche, Dan is forced to take out a second mortgage to send his daughter Alex (Scarlet Johansson) to New York University and get his other daughter braces.

Even though this unfair situation would be unbearable to most, when Carter’s wife leaves him, Dan graciously takes him into his home and lets him eat dinner with his perfect family.

This extremely unbelievable friendship between Carter and Dan allows each of them to realize that although they might have different family lives and specific problems, their struggles are universal.

Cute.

The major problem with this unrealistic film is that Hollywood comes at its viewers with a patronizing tone.

It’s easy for Hollywood to preach that we should not give in to things we don’t believe in just for our own financial benefit.

Weitz’s message is especially hollow when he allows shameless plugs of huge corporations to appear in his film, while at the same time he scoffs at the notion of “synergy,” the joining of various brands of products to create profit for each.

Don’t give in to corporations, Weitz seems to say, but it’s OK to drink Starbucks – especially if it pays him to tell us so.

If a mainstream Hollywood movie can’t resist the pressure of losing individuality to maximize profit, isn’t it a little preposterous to expect as much from people who might actually have to worry about being able to fund daughters with braces, college tuition bills or pregnant wives? Feature films, with their pat resolutions, can’t answer this question, but their audiences can.