Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Downsize This

The Company Men is a flick starring Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones.

 Here's the shorty:

Color me obvious and predictable.
This film tries hard not to be obvious, but you can see the plot points coming like a Wide Load sign on the highway.

The film deals with "downsizing" and the what happens when the shit hits the fan as the economy took its initial downward spiral in the 2000's.

It tries to elicit sympathy when Affleck's character loses his six-figure job with CBX, a company run by Jones and Craig T. Nelson. He slowly loses all the trappings and luxuries of such a salary- his Porsche, country club membership and finally, his home.

Methinks the message is clear within the first 20  minutes:

We are our jobs and losing them is devastating.

Gee, it's a bit hard to muster up sympathy for a guy living as large as that. Losing the house and moving back into his parent's place is the real ringer though. But, despite all this, the big message is pushed into our faces over and again. Affleck refuses to accept his new fate and whines about like a little boy. Moments of humor are so rare because the film insists on staying on its heavy and cumbersome message.

There's a scene between Affleck and his wife (Rosemarie Dewitt) where she grabs his face and reminds him that "You have your family. You have me!" Big hug, cue the tears. It was such a cliche I thought I was watching a high school drama for a second. Again and again, we are hammered by the big message.

Meanwhile Tommy Lee and Craig T are stark contrast to Affleck and the others fate. They get richer, knock boots with their younger co-workers (Jones with Maria Bello. Now, there's real fiction.) and seem to relieve the pressure of falling stock and stock holders' confidence by firing more people. Meanwhile, they have bought a new building for a much larger office. Damn them suits!

The film asks us over and again: are you getting our message?

Chris Cooper is the best in the film. He at least brings some humanity to these cardboard cutout characters.

Overall, I'd say skip this one. It's way too obvious and heavy handed.

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