'Company Men' shows reality of job loss
The film gives a realistic look at how job loss can cause loss of identity and purpose.
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Phil is a man who is used to a certain amount of reverence. A legend at GTX, Paul’s now just another old, out of shape, executive with few job skills, a bad attitude, and a salary requirement that’s too high.Skip to next paragraph
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Gene McClary is “boxed” the same day as his old friend Phil. McClary was too candid with stock analysts about how bad company prospects were and cared too much about his employees. He shoots from the hip, says what’s on his mind and head man James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) tires of it.
Gene’s company stock will keep him from missing any meals. However, upon being sacked, he leaves his free-spending society wife to move in with the HR axe woman Sally Wilcox (Maria Bello) he had been having an affair with. That relationship quickly dies as Gene mopes around with nothing to do except drink away his depression.
A telling scene has Cynthia McClary (Patricia Kalember) casually asking her husband if she and her girlfriends can take the corporate jet to go shopping and play some golf out of town, at a time when the company was laying off thousands of employees. Upon receiving a withering look from Gene, she curtly responds, “I guess we’ll have to fly commercial.”
Many who have written about this movie believe the ending to be implausible and contrived. Actually it’s not at all. When businesses downsize, assets are sold but don’t go away. People are fired, but they re-emerge, often in the same line of business. Entrepreneurs re-start their lives and new ventures often hiring people they know and trust, their old employees.
The critics complain that The Company Men is no Up In the Air. It’s not. It’s actually a more realistic look at how men (in this case) cope with job loss; which is more than losing a paycheck, it’s losing an identity, a daily purpose, and the splintering of a work family that in some cases can be every bit as tight knit as family at home.
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