Friday, August 12, 2005

Has anyone made a movie about you lately?

Wow. I can't believe it. I just saw the movie "In good company." I swear, they case studied me for the script.

"In Good Company" Movie Synopsis from Filmmaker and Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter Paul Weitz ("About a Boy") turns his complex sense of humor on "In Good Company," an insightful comedy about the relationship between a 50-year-old businessman and his new, 26-year-old boss.
Dan Foreman (played by Dennis Quaid) is headed for a shakeup. He is demoted from head of ad sales for a major magazine when the company he works for is acquired in a corporate takeover. His new boss, Carter Duryea (played by Topher Grace) is half his age--a business school prodigy who preaches corporate Synergy. While Dan develops clients through handshake deals and relationships, Carter cross-promotes the magazine with the cell phone division and "Krispity Krunch," an indeterminate snack food under the same corporate umbrella.

Both men are going through turmoil at home. Dan has two daughters--Alex, age 18, and Jana, age 16--and is shocked when his wife tells him she's pregnant with a new child. Between college tuition, the mortgage and a new baby, Dan can't afford to lose his job in the wave of corporate layoffs. Carter, in the meanwhile, is dumped by his wife of seven months just as he gets his promotion. Dan and Carter's uneasy friendship is thrown into jeopardy when Tom falls for, and begins an affair with, Dan's daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson).

See high-resolution Quicktime trailer here (3,2MB).

The long high-resolution Quicktime trailer (gives a great overview of the movie) here (22MB).

The long low-resolution Quicktime trailer here (5,3MB).

The movie is about a young kid who gets put in charge of a sales department of a company's flagship publication. Why is it about me? Well he is in charge of people twice his age, notably the now demoted sales manager played by Dennis Quaid. I have always been the young kid.

Apparently the movie is directed by the same guy that did "About a boy." What a fantastic effort. Watching, it was like being hit between the eyes every few minutes with a truism.

SPOILER WARNING - I'm going to mention some stuff from the movie now, so choose whether to read on if you are going to see the movie.

Kid is in the lift with Scarlett Johansson (Dennis Quaid's character's daughter) going up to the office for his first day of work. They chit-chat and she asks if he's an new intern. "No," he says, "I'm starting a new job. I have no idea what I'm doing - don't tell anyone." Wow have I had that moment as I've gone in on a highly paid assignment and not had a clue as to where I'm going to start. And all the old guys look at me (I'm now 31 - I started consulting when I was 22) and think, "I've been doing this for 20 years, how is this punk going to do it better?"

Kid has gatecrashed his way to dinner at Quaid's character's house and is chatting to the daughter. He says, "Sometimes I feel, 'What if my life has peaked at 26?'" Oh wow. Given my current circumstance, don't I wonder that everyday.

Quaid's character goes in to a sales meeting with kid. Kid has black eye where Quaid smacked him after finding out kid had been seeing his daughter. Customer (old guy) asks, "What happened to your eye?" Quaid tells customer, "I taught him a lesson." Later on after sale is made, kid says, "You were fantastic in there. How did you do that?" Quaid's character replies, "He hates his young son-in-law [son-in-law works for guy who made purchase - has used up whole budget on Internet, etc]. He needed to feel like he was sticking it to his son-in-law. And that sale will be good for his company too." Oh grief, if that is not the sum total of the lessons of my sales experience. As a snotty nosed kid, I've gone in there with the answer so many times, all the reasons why we could do the job. All the reasons they needed us. All the reasons it was worth the millions. Because I couldn't connect with the older / blacker / femaler / whateverer buyer as a kid. Couldn't talk about our kids, whatever. Lesson: sales is about satisfying a desire. It might have very little to do with the purchase. If you can do that and you are confident that the sale will be good for the buyer, go for it. Find the way to connect with the desire.

BIG SPOILER: definitely don't read next bit if you're going to see the movie.

Kid has moved on and Dennis Quaid is back in his job. Quaid tries to hire him and kid turns down offer, saying he needs to take some time to figure out what he is going to do with his life. Wierd how I had it all planned out at 21. At 31, a whole lot has happened, I'm fairly well off, very good at what I do. But somehow the plan disappeared and at my ripe old age, it's time for a reality check.

Oh, and did I mention the movie has Scarlett Johansson - what a babe


kyknoord said...

So who is the Scarlett Johansson equivalent in your life story?

It is the question said...

Well thank god for small mercies. It's not a colleague's daughter(the writers must have used artistic licence here).

The similar part to my life story is when Topher Grace - the kid - is discovered dating Quaid's character's daughter and get's wacked for his troubles. He sees how much the relationship is worth and tells Johansson, "I love you."

I didn't quite do that with the "Keira-girl" - many blog-entries prior, but I pushed at the wrong time and she ran away.

As the someone in the movie says at a later point, "Timing is everything."

Wow. Ain't that the truth.

So I'm looking for Scarlett (and, dammit, she was in Cape Town for a movie just over a year ago!)

ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

From what you have revealed about your professional life... I can see the similarities.
I've never really worked with older people nor had the need to prove myself on that level. In my profession most people are fairly young and one can be seen as over the hill when you reach 35.
You seem to have done ok... well done, mate.

It is the question said...

CCBT: Thanks for the compliment. Well other than the fact that I'm having a mid-life crisis at 31...

If you watch the beeeg trailer (22MB) that I linked to in the post, you'll see the captions:

Sometimes it's not about getting ahead...'s about getting a life

Jeez, another one between the eyes.

Funny though, I always thought, "I'll work hard while I'm young and I can. When I'm forty and I've got kids, I'd like to have this behind me."

Of course two things happen. When you've focused hard on your career, it's difficult to start focusing on other things again. Other things move on in the mean time.

And you discover that staying at the top of the pile usually means you have to continue to work hard even when you're forty.

So what are you going to do when you're 35 - retire? Or reinvent special projects to cater for older guys? Sorry, couldn't resist...

One of the things I considering at the moment is going to work on Wall Street. Talk about an industry where you're old at 35 - merchant banking is it. So one of my big considerations is that I just don't handle 18 hour days as well as I used to / as well as my 25 year old colleagues would.

ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

A midlife crisis at 31 – you can’t be serious!
I’d say you are just about to kick-start the next phase in you life. I doubt I’ll be able to retire at 35. Doubt I can afford to, even if I follow the brother’s advice and go into business for myself. I am hoping that I would have been able to make my mark in the industry by then and establish myself as some sort of an authority in certain aspects of my field.
Don’t think I’ll wait for when I’m forty to settle down with a partner or start a family… but then one never knows what life will throw at you.