Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Company Men

I really enjoyed this movie.  If it's not very subtle in its message that's all right because it's message is on target.  There is a labor crisis in America that affects everyone from the top on down.

"The Company Men" focuses on three separate segments of the workforce, all of whom work for GTX, a conglomerate that started by making ships for the Navy and so forth.  Of course now with defense cuts and so forth the shipbuilding segment of the company is being phased out.

Heading this division is Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) who co-founded the company with CEO Jim (Craig T. nelson).  Gene is conflicted about the company's downsizing and has been publicly vocal about his ethical concerns in putting people out of work to make the stock price go up.  When he winds up getting a pink slip himself, he still has millions but nothing to do with his time or money.

One of Gene's oldest associates is Phil (Chris Cooper) who started out in the shipyards after a tour in Vietnam.  Phil is in his late 50s and when he gets the ax, finds no one wants to hire him despite all of his experience.  Too young to retire but too old compared to the college kids coming up who'll work for cheaper, Phil is caught between a rock and a hard place with seemingly no way out.

And then there's Bobby (Ben Affleck) who was a middle-manager for GTX.  Despite making only $150K or so a year, he lives in an affluent suburb of Boston in a million-dollar home and drives a Porsche.  When he gets his pink slip, he's left scrambling to find work and keep his head above water.  To try and make ends meet, he has to take a job from his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner) working as a carpenter.

All that's missing here is an even younger employee just trying to break into the market.  But still you get a pretty good idea of the bleak job market.  Many people like Phil find they can't get a job and the job they've been working for 30 years or more doesn't have any value.  Others like Bobby have been living beyond their means from paycheck to paycheck.  All the while CEOs like Jim continue drawing millions, refusing to give up perks like corporate jets, primo vacations, and giant offices in order to save someone's livelihood.

As I said, this is about as subtle as Michael Moore's "Capitalism:  a Love Story" but it's hard to deny that it's not true.  It's a changing job market and millions are being left behind, marooned on an island while others have to scale back their lives and their dreams.  The end reminds me of a documentary I saw years ago about the economic crisis in Brazil.  At one factory the head honchos decided to fire everyone and close the factory down.  The workers decided then to simply break the locks, fire up the machines, and keep working by pooling their own resources.  Maybe we need more of that spirit here.

Unless you're a rabid Tea Partier who still believes CEOs like Jim are riding to the rescue, I'd suggest watching this.

That is all.

My score:  90/100 (3.5 stars)
Metacritic score:  69/100 (3 stars)

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