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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Company Men - Movie thoughts

Ashthon went home on American Idol. We are happy. She was not good. Her exit song was one of her best performances though. Too bad she didn’t give America that earlier. We agree with the America’s Next Top Model exit too.

In the past two days, we have shunned most TV in favor of movies with our families. Don't worry, we will catch up on all of our shows. We saw The Company Men today.

The Company Men is less of an entertaining movie and more of Hollywood trying to reach the public where they are now. As a timely message piece trying to hit Americans during a recession, it's great. As entertainment, it was bland and a little forgettable. It was a little depressing, but lacked enough emotion to really touch us. It had a good cast, but there wasn’t much of a story, just a good message. The movie centered on things we can relate to, not people we can relate to.

The movie centered on three rich men. One, Ben Affleck, lost his high-paying, competitive job and had to humble himself, take a lower paying job, and spend more time with his family (and fantastically supportive wife). It was hard to relate to his character at first, because he had a very large ego, and none of us think we have very large egos. : ) Also, he was living paycheck-to-paycheck, spending everything he earned to keep up a showy, extravagant lifestyle. Note to selves: Live well beneath your means, so you have savings and you aren’t relying on material things and your next paycheck. We didn’t want Ben Affleck to find a job, because he was learning too much by not having one, so that plotline lacked tension. Another, Tommy Lee Jones, was laid off at an older age and was able to keep up his lifestyle, but he felt bad about the direction the company he had built had taken. The third man also had a hard time with losing his job. None of these men were remotely poor. They were all white collar and could survive and provide decently for their families, unlike a lot of people in the country right now. So what these men suffered was more of a loss of identity. Reflecting on how the company used to be in the past, Tommy Lee Jones said, “Those men knew their worth. Those men knew who they were.”

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Identity and a sense of purpose are central to who we are as humans, and you have to base your identity on something that won’t be a waste of your life. If you base your identity on something you will lose, believe us, you WILL lose it. This movie echoed this truth, but it picked the family and a life without worry as a replacement for work. Being dedicated to your job, taking pride in providing for your family, and working to succeed are all good things. When good things that aren’t ultimate things become your obsession, they turn into bad things. It’s for you to decide what you will devote your life to. If you don’t make a conscious decision, you will make an unconscious one/something will pick YOU without your active permission. You will end up obsessing over what people think of you, stuff, your job, worrying, one specific person, your children, romantic love, whatever. It’s much better to consciously pick what you’re about and monitor it. These men were so surprised by the devastating effect of losing the prestige and purpose their jobs brought them. To be making more than $120,000 per year and then have to live off of $65,000 per year? GAH!!! (Sarcasm. These people went from rich to still rich.) This movie is perfect to take your work-obsessed husband to. It’s well-written, but you already know what’s going to happen. Just watch the trailer. People get fired, lose a sense of self, then either pick their lives up…or don’t. Stretch that over two hours.

Movie grade: B-


  1. I purposely didn't see this movie because I'm a news junkie, and I am SICK.TO.DEATH of all things recession. Economies work in cycles, and when it's a down cycle, it sucks like whoa. But it will go up again, eventually. So seriously, media, stop with the doomsday about America crumbling into the sea and becoming the new Atlantis.

    But I do sympathize with these men a little. I do not base my entire self worth on my job, but I do identify by what I do. And working technically part time the past two years has definitely left me feeling inadequate at times. In a society where we base so much of our success on how much we can pay for, having a limited income and no PTO definitely has its downsides.

    Still, going from several hundreds of thousands of dollars to 65k is going from wealthy to doing-just-fine. Not too much sympathy.

  2. Word. ^ totally agree. People need to chill.