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In Good Company

I’m going to forego my usual fair and balanced review this week to drift off to the margins of the new Baby Boomer revisionist film, In Good Company.
For those who care about such things, let me say that the acting in this film is solidly ordinary – Dennis Quaid, in particular, gives the sort of performance that has pock-mocked his career since his breakaway 1983 film Jaws III: 3D – and the film’s romantic chemistry between That ‘70s Show Topher Grace and actress Scarlett Johanssen (who looks just like the actress he plays opposite in the sitcom) is as flat as a 50-something who has mistakenly taken Advil rather than his dose of Viagra. Such tidbits aside, In Good Company is the worst piece of generational propaganda since Falling Down and that nasty bit of misinformation America Dreams, which airs its mad batch of lies every week on NBC. 
Phew.
In Good Company is the story of geriatric slacker Dan (Quaid, looking like a semi-retired porn star) and his attempt to keep his death hold onto his triple-figure income, even when it’s apparent to everyone that he’s about as useful as zits on a bowling ball. When the sport magazine Dan works for is sold out from under him, young hotshot Carter Duryea (Grace) is hired as his supervisor based on the fact that, like, Carter knows how to use a computer and stuff.
To make matters worse for poor old Dan, his daughter Alex (Johanssen) has decided to transfer out of SUNY and into a creative writing program at NYU and develops the hots for Carter, his 50-year-old wife has become accidentally pregnant – I guess they got some of that Bush “abstinence-only” sex ed in the 1950s – and he has to get a second mortgage on his home to pay for the tuition hike and new baby.
Now wait a second here: Didn’t I say that Dan was bringing home a triple-digit income? How is it, one might ask, that this 51-year-old, overpaid middle manager has found himself so financially over his head? This is a time of personal responsibility, isn’t it?
Against any shred of reason, the film deifies old Dan, effectively placing the blame for his disastrous financial situation on Carter and the post-modern, multinational corporation he represents. Danny and his cadre of middle-aged, over-paid buddies are person peoples, ethical powerhouses like fellow Boomer businessmen Kenneth Lay and Donald Trump, and deserve the world and all things in it, damn it.
These Baby Boomers represent moral values, as they did in the 1960s, when they championed better living through chemistry; the ’70s, when they embraced wife swapping and identity politics; the ’80s, when they invented the term yuppie and fought for the tax payers’ revolt that redistributed the wealth in their favor; or the 1990s, when they cut welfare programs and college financial aid.
When Carter explains the concept of synergy to Dan, the washed out ex-jock looks incredulous and says, “But that’s cheating!” I believe these are the exact words Boomer diva Martha Stewart used right before her multi-million dollar K-Mart deal that tied cheap knock-off tablecloths in with her tawdry TV show.
Young people are suspect in the film. Carter’s inspiration is lifted from business guru Teddy K (Malcolm McDowell, back lighted in his one appearance to look like Satan, in case you didn’t get the message) and fueled by the artificial light of caffeine; his Gen-X boss is a shark in a black suit; and old Dan’s daughter Alex has no idea of the financial burden she’s putting the poor guy in. Even Dan’s as-yet-unborn kid is implicated somehow, making the old dud pay for her birth. Slacker.
We’re supposed to see Carter’s desire for career advancement as a moral flaw and cheer when he calls himself an “emotionally guarded, anal-retentive asshole” but look at Dan’s inflated salary as some natural perk for him knowing the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes’, old-boy, secret handshake. This performance would be more convincing if Dan actually read the magazine he seems to care so much about or if he wasn’t just a glorified ad rep, but a writer or editor – but all Dan really represents is his generation of middle managers.
Yes, mourn the poor, underachieving, middle manager Baby Boomer, with his bloated salary and his unrealistic expectations! Sure, worship at the altar of these wacky 50-something’s quest to suck up every last gulp of air in the world!
Lulled into a sense of apathetic bewilderment, I actually heard a fellow Gen-Xer laugh when Dan comes out and says that basically what everyone wants to see is an old guy bitch-slap a young person. This movies lulls your thinking mind to sleep until you accept the rationale of a father telling his 18-year-old daughter that he loved her better when she was five. (Maybe it’s really that Dan, typical of Boomers, likes himself better when he was younger, too.)
The film’s final, filthy victory has Carter returning to the office (after having lost his job) in jeans and a dirty T-shirt. Dan offers him a job, of course – good old Dan – but when Carter is on the way out the lowest loser on the Baby Boomer hit parade, a schmuck who was fired because he wasn’t performing but inexplicitly hired back with a raise, tells the wiz-kid that he looks like a delivery boy.
Listen up kids: This is how your elders want you – poor, dirty, unemployed. This is why they cheered the demise of the dot.coms, even if it cost them some of their 401ks. A generation of swine, these Baby Boomers think that they can change history using doublethink, misinformation and propaganda. 
And it’s up to you to prove them wrong.

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