It didn't start well. No, not the movie itself, but the theater. There was an idiot who decided he had to make comments on the stupid ads that all theaters are running these days. But someone sitting behind me took it upon himself to either talk to the guy or complain to management, and there were no further outbursts.
Then the projectionist fell asleep, or something, and the first few minutes of the film showed with a scrollbar across the frame.
Just about the time I was ready to complain, they fixed it, and the rest of the showing was uneventful.
The basic plot is: Dennis Quaid is Dan Foreman, an ad manager for a Sports Illustrated-type magazine called Sports America. The magazine is bought out by a conglomerate (Globecom, good generic name), headed by a Rupert Murdoch-type oddly named "Teddy K", and they replace the 51-year-old Dan with 26-year-old Carter Duryea, whose name is deliberately mispronounced by the people at the magazine. Duryea is played by Topher Grace (and please, how pretentious, if your name is "Christopher", which Grace's is, to call yourself "Topher"), and he looks about 16.
I don't normally make a lot of comments about a Roger Ebert review of a film I'm reviewing myself, but I have to here, because Roger must have been sleeping through it, or seeing a different movie than I did, because parts of his review were just plain wrong, as published in the newspaper yesterday.
At one point, Ebert wrote:
There is a bizarre episode where Carter takes Dan out drinking, in a club where patrons can observe each other via closed-circuit TV, and then hurries back to the office to join an X-rated chat room.
I don't know what movie Ebert was watching, but this scene was not in the film. And if you read the online version of the review, that sentence has been deleted.
Further, Ebert writes (and this is in both the paper and the website version):
[Dan] is concerned about [his daughter] Alex, especially after finding a pregnancy-testing kit in the garbage, but doesn't know how concerned he should be until her discovers that Carter, the rat, has not only demoted him but is dating his daughter.
The pregnancy-testing kit has absolutely nothing to do with his daughter (wonderfully played by the sensational Scarlett Johansson), but with his wife (Marg Helgenberger), who winds up pregnant, despite having two teenage daughters already.
OK, so Roger can't get them all right. He's further wrong when he says that a scene late in the film where Dan is at a "rally" staged for Teddy K, and he gets up and tells Teddy how full of it he is, is unrealistic. Given Dan's personality and how he winds up feeling he has nothing to lose, I found the scene a winner.
This movie has a lot to say about a lot of things: corporate America, how a younger generation relates to an older one, how people who find themselves declared irrelevant in corporate mergers have a tough time finding themselves in life even though they do have a lot to offer... sometimes the movie finds itself all over the place, and other times you think "Hey! This is exactly how life is!"
Worth seeing for the fine performances of Quaid, Grace, and Johansson, in addition to Morty (David Paymer), who finds himself let go and in middle-age, with nowhere to go.
This isn't the greatest movie ever made, but it's thought-provoking, at the very least, and worth the time -- and that's yet another Sun-Times error; they listed it as 131 minutes, but the true running time is 109 minutes.