The saddest event of our lives is to get fired – not because we screw things up or reprimanded, but because of global economic disaster, a solely company strategy to lay off people, or worse, you simply don’t know how to use a laptop and are forced to get an early retirement.
I get lucky that my day-profession is the least to be laid-off but I saw my friends weeping and giving long faces, trying to accept the fact that tomorrow they don’t have a job anymore. Who’s going to pay the bills? Where am I going to get the money to support myself? There are tons of question that ended to blame the ‘big guys’ in the Company for manipulating everything and not holding it firmly to sustain the manipulation.
“The Company Men” is the story about men getting fired who are below the executive positions. I’m referring to Managers, Head of the Department or even the great Thinkers of the Company. This is quite ironic because usually these are the people who fire us.
This is the story of characters who have oriented their lives around a corporation which involved two men who began building ships; small ones and then big ones. When the recession came in, GTX (the corporation these men are in) is downsizing, and some of its employees are discovering their primary occupation was making and spending a lot of money, and that without those jobs, there isn’t much they really know how to do.
Bobby Walker (played by Ben Affleck), who looks so successful – driving a Porsche, nice big house, an ever cheerful wife and kids. He loses his job – which basically the only thing he depends on to pay his mortgages, his monthly golf club membership. His former company, GTX, paid for temporary office space at a job search center that helps him to find a new job. He was encouraged to attend therapy sessions to help him to still stay positive and that it was only his job that he lost, not himself.
Phil Woodward (played by Chris Cooper), is very old employee of GTX who got fired at the age of 60, although he’s on his executive position. His job is his life and the life-support of his flamboyant-selfish wife, who told him to carry his briefcase every morning so that the neighbors will not suspect that he got fired.
Gene McClary (played by Tommy Lee Jones), is one of the founders of GTX, together with James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson). McClary and Salinger are college buddies who dreamed together to be successful. They have different strategy on growing their business, Salinger is after the profit and how to make it bigger while McClary worked so hard to gain trust-worthy employees that he can count on every time. So, in the end, Salinger’s vision of ‘working for the shareholders’ won and sacrificed the jobs and lives of the employees.
If you get together all the Academy Award Winners in one film like this – do you expect too much that it will please you dramatically? Of course! Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck, Kevin Coster and Chris Cooper did a great job on being so convincing. The movie wasn’t about the characters but about the economic situation that affects the lives of these people. In all honesty, the plot and dialogues are not as superb as we used to see from their Award-Winning movies. But, that’s why they are considered as A-list actors – they can be persuasive on their roles even if it was a passive scene.
There was couple of remarkable moments on this movie, which did something to make me really believe that it was a good movie. The first one is when Bobby was about to give up because he cannot find a job and Rosemarie, his wife, pull himself and was trying to make him realize that it’s not the end of the world, that he still have his family. The second moment involves, Bobby’s brother-in-law, Jack Dolan (played by Kevin Costner), when Bobby can’t accept the fact that he will ask Jack to work for him, as a construction worker, whom he always dismissed as a “working man”. In the end, it was Jack whom he can count on for extra help.
The Company Men might not be nominated or won Best Picture Awards, nor young people will vote on MTV Movie Awards, but this movie is a real deal. You’ll get to see the actual despair of the people who sits comfortably on their air-conditioned executive room after losing the job. This is the other side of our story.