Dramedy is a confusing word. Does dramedy imply a comedy that manages to keeps us from laughing as hard as we normally would because it is meant to be taken seriously? Or does it mean a dramatic narrative with humorous points in it, relieving some of the anxiety of the awkwardness of life? This question is one that “In Good Company” wrestles with for the entire two hours.
“In Good Company” is mediocrity at best. The comedy is too “PG,” the acting is lukewarm and the story is too frivolous to really get the audience involved. Writer and director Paul Weitz does a fine job at the helm. Also in tow are Dennis Quaid and indie film “it” girl Scarlett Johansson. Surprisingly, the best performance comes from “That’s 70’s Show’s” own Topher Grace, who could definitely make the Michael J. Fox crossover from TV to film. This formulaic movie works fine, but the expiration date is starting to show.
The film is your standard set up — crisis — resolution narrative. First we meet veteran salesman Dan Foreman (Quaid) who is living out the American dream. In his best Willy Loman impression, Quaid proves that he’s still got the right stuff. Cut to Carter Duryea (Grace) the young, hip CEO newly hired as Foreman’s boss. The contrasts between characters really smother you into understanding how different these two characters could be. Dan has a new baby and a station wagon; Carter is newly divorced and drives a Porsche. After an involuntary weekend meeting at the office, the family-oriented Dan invites Carter over to his house for a good old-fashioned family meal. Enter Alex Forman (Johansson), Dan’s daughter, with whom Carter immediately falls in love. Johansson’s coma-inducing performance is the same role she has played in every one of her onscreen performances. A classic butterfly in a hurricane, Alex is a misunderstood, tremendously artistic teenager yearning to come into her own. If not for Grace’s pathetic sarcasm, the scenes between the two of them might not be watchable. As problems at the office begin to build, along with problems at home, Dan and Carter figure out that they need to work together and put their differences aside. When the relationship between Alex and Carter finally surfaces, Carter, coincidentally, needs Dan’s help to close the company-saving deal. A reluctant Dan puts his grievances aside and save the day. Sprinkled with moments of simple comedy and just enough of a love story to keep the couples in the house happy, the film finally comes to its predictable happy ending.
There is nothing wrong with this movie, which is exactly its problem. It is too sweet and nice to be remembered. Other than Grace’s performance, nothing stands out about the film. “In Good Company” is not quite the “Father of the Bride” it so desperately wants to be. Perfect for couples, “In Good Company” is not offensive and is an only-if-you-are-in-the-mood-for-it popcorn movie.