Company Men has a nice cast and John Wells is the very talented creator of one of television’s best dramas (ER), but you have to wonder, why would anyone want to watch this dismal film about the economic crisis? Ben Affleck plays Bobby Walker, a sales associate laid off by ship-building company GTX. For Bobby–used to conveying a sense of class with his Porsche and golf-club membership–to come to the realization that he is now just another person in a sea of displaced people isn’t easy.
After being rejected, jerked around, and forced to make sacrifices in order to pay the bills, Bobby decides, for the good of his family, that he must take a construction job with his wife’s brother (Kevin Costner). Phil (Chris Cooper) is not so lucky. Canned in GTX’s second round of lay-offs, he discovers what the job market is like for older people and it ain’t pretty. And Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) is the co-founder of GTX, running counter to the heartless executive cliché. He doesn’t like how the company is consolidating in order to appease the stock-holders and is forced out because of his beliefs.
Wells makes valid observations (how these guys were not as indestructible as they thought. How your job becomes your life) but a lot of it just boils down to listing the hardships of the recession that we already know. And other than selling possessions and drinking at a bar every day, Wells seems to shy away from any hefty emotional turmoil that would make the characters more sympathetic. In fact, Phil is concluded in a lazy way that only encourages more questions. These characters are well portrayed, but the movie is a downer that could have been powerful.