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Company Man

Starring Woody Allen, Alan Cumming, Anthony LaPaglia, Denis Leary, Doug McGrath, Ryan Phillippe, John Turturro and Sigourney Weaver
Written and Directed by Doug McGrath and Peter Askin
no website

IN SHORT: A dateflick for grownups. [Rated PG-13 for sexual humor and drug content. ]

There are two kinds of comedy movies. There are the gutbuster silly descendants of Animal House and there are the well written films with jokes so subtle that a better than average IQ is required. No one has done the latter better than the Marx Brothers, who added a healthy dose of frenetic action to their work, but considering what passes for comedy these days, it's nice to report that there's a funny flick aimed at grownups. The first third of Company Man, in which responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco is laid on the shoulders of an English Grammar teacher from Greenwich Connecticut, is so cleverly written and so subtle in its humor that a good knowledge of American History is required to get most of the jokes. Thankfully, Kevin Costner just made Thirteen Days. See that and you'll know just about everything you'll need.

In the days following the Bay of Pigs debacle, Senators in DC were demanding answers of the CIA. Their top secret investigations discover a heavily redacted memo, which lead to one well-spoken agent, Allen Quimp (Doug McGrath). Quimp is the Grammar teacher mentioned above who, when pressured by his wife Daisy (Sigourney Weaver) and father-in-law to excel in business and match the income and fame of his brothers -- one's an astronaut, the other won a Nobel Prize -- cops to being a secret undercover CIA agent. Sworn to secrecy, Daisy tells all of Greenwich and soon Quimp finds himself point man in the defection of a Russian ballet dancer (Ryan Phillipe).

Quimp was lying, of course, but he did it too well. Once the Russian "situation" develops, the CIA signs the teacher on and packs him off to a third world nation where he can't make any waves or do any harm. Cuba. The description above should have you thinking "gee, sounds like a wacky comedy!" All the laughs are buried in the dialog and McGrath's Quimp is as dry as toast. That means we've been set up with a first act filled with chuckles, leaving us desperate for some kind of comic maelstrom.

In Cuba, agents Fry (Denis Leary) and Johnson (John Turturro, more over the top than usual) kick everything up a notch but the maelstrom is generated by a man named Woody Allen, with whom McGrath co-wrote Bullets Over Broadway a couple of years back. It doesn't matter what role Allen plays, in this case he's the CIA Station Chief in Havana, he always plays "woody allen" and he's always funny. In this case, funnier than usual. As for the idiotic efforts made by these agents to take Castro off the market, history is stranger than fiction. All these dumb things happened.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Company Man, he would have paid...


dateflick level. It may be too intelligent for its own good, but we got the jokes and found Company Man to be one of those rare things in moviemaking, a comedy for grownups.

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