The Company Men (Blu-ray)
I remember seeing the trailer for THE COMPANY MEN and immediately falling in love with the beautiful musical score as some of my favorite stars are getting ready for work at an upper management corporation. We see that many of the characters are getting laid off while Tommy Lee Jones sternly tells the boss, “This is wrong.” A montage of scenes filled with family, doubt, loss, anger, humor, hope, happiness and more family finishes off the trailer tugging at all the emotional strings. Does the film live up to the trailer? Not entirely, but to be fair, I predicted this to be my favorite film of the year, which is clearly unfair. THE COMPANY MEN because it does work, bringing family, hope and encouragement to the forefront.
Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is one of many men who lose their job due to corporate downsizing at a major company ran by James Salinger, performed by my main man Craigy T. (otherwise known as Craig T. Nelson). Even though Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) are higher up on the corporate ladder, they eventually lose their job as well. The film centers on these three men and how they deal with the loss differently. Woodward has been with the company from the beginning. Working his way up as a factory worker, he has a difficult time coping. McClary has regret and remorse how the company is ran and wants change. Our main focus is with Walker who doesn’t accept the loss at first and continues on with the finer things of life. Too proud to accept a blue-collar job from his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner), Walker must learn to change his attitude, adapt his outlook and lifestyle while prioritizing his family first.
Coming from an extensive television background, director John Wells does a wonderful job here on his first feature film. Cutting between the different character’s stories, he keeps it simple, doing what he knows and letting the actors and momentum of the story carry itself. I think the script would have benefited more by cutting out Jones and Nelson’s characters focusing on the ones fired rather than the bosses doing the firing. Audiences relate to the guy not in charge. Most of us have some experience in the corporate world, understanding the feeling of not being appreciated and being viewed as a faceless number. During the recent economic turn everyone has witnessed firsthand or been victim to losing a job. THE COMPANY MEN would have benefited with less story about the company and more about the employee.
At first, the characters came across spoiled without much of a crisis. So the guy can’t afford his Porsche or club membership. Boo Hoo. But Affleck and Cooper do a great job revealing the emotional brokenness and pain any man would feel unable to provide for his family. Call me crazy but I wanted more Kevin Costner and his funny Boston accent as well. His scenes were minimal but definitely carried a lot of energy and weight as a tough but supportive family member.
Watching Walker be discarded by his employer, his choice on how he handles it and his family’s support is where the heart of the film lies. THE COMPANY MEN succeeds in taking us through that journey albeit quickly and ultimately providing encouragement and hope. Remember, “I will win. Because I have faith, courage and enthusiasm.”
Video: (1080p High Definition 1.78:1) A very nice clean picture.
Audio: (5.1 DTS HD-MA) The volume levels of the voices would dip a little low from time to time.
Commentary with Writer and Director John Wells: He gives a very in depth view about the characters and the story. You can tell this was an important story he wanted to tell.
Alternate Ending (12:52): Really not much different except for reordering the sequence, extending some of the scenes and cutting another.
Deleted Scenes (7:16): Six scenes that are interesting but probably make the characters a little less likeable and therefore wisely cut.
Making The Company Men (14:23): This is a pretty typical but still fairly interesting making of featurette with actors and filmmakers discussing the movie and their characters using clips from the film.