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When companies are more interested in the bottom line than their employees Jeri Jacquin | Fri, Jan 07 2011 06:28 PM

Opening in theaters from director John Wells, Wienstein Company and Pathe comes a story close to the times with “The Company Men.”

This film tells the story of Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), an up-and-coming member of a large corporation. Living the good life with wife Maggie (Rosemarry DeWitt ) and his two children, there is nothing standing in his way.

Except life. With a staggering economy and businesses cutting jobs, Bobby is one of the first to go and refuses to believe it will take longer than a few weeks to find a new job. When a job doesn’t appear, the family is forced to make life changes, including accepting work putting up dry wall from brother-in-law Jack Dolan (Kevin Costner).

Back at the company, Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) begins to make waves with his partner, expressing the ridiculousness of the layoffs instead of cutting business costs. Even Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) believes he is safe from the layoffs due to his years with the company.

Until it comes to Phil as well. This is what happens to company men who believed they were part of something big and became part of something bigger — the unemployed.

Final word: Affleck does a descent job as Bobby. From believing he had the world in his hands to having it all taken away, Affleck goes through every emotion — from stunned to disbelief to the acceptance of it all while the whole time seeking some kind of redemption.

Jones, as McClary, seems to take the situation in stride almost as if there was a piece of him that wanted to get away from a company. It is beyond his comprehension that the company  no longer cared about the employees but more about the bottom line.

Cooper is the winner here. Although I have seen him portray distraught characters before, there was something about this role that was not only deeply moving but disturbing as I personally know so many in that situation.

Keep an eye on Costner here as well — although his role is small it is powerful with his character having a few secrets of his own.

Other cast members include Craig T. Nelson as the gutless wonder James Salinger, Gary Galone as Carlson, Eamonn Walker as Danny, Thomas Kee as Mifflin, Tom Kemp as Conal and Maria Bello as Sally Wilcox.

Tubs of popcorn: I give “The Company of Men” three tubs of popcorn out of five. This is a riveting look at the inside workings of a company that is more interested in the bottom line and company perks than the welfare of those who build a company.

This film shows the lives of three men and how the situation affects them, the lives of their families and the impact on a community as a whole.

In the end — Americans give their lives to the job; it’s time to take it back.

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