(PG-13) 3 1/2 starsEd Johnson-Ott

When a national sports magazine gets gobbled up in a corporate takeover, Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid), the 51-year-old head of ad sales, gets demoted and finds himself answering to a new boss, the very green 26-year-old Carter Duryea (Topher Grace). "I think you have the potential to be an awesome wingman here," Carter says to Dan, honestly thinking his words will be received as a compliment.

That's why the comedy/drama works. Writer/director Paul Weitz (co-writer of About a Boy) consistently presents both Dan and Carter sympathetically, because the villain in this story is not Carter, it is mega-corporations and the idiot decision-making that comes with them. Why is a qualified, successful man demoted and replaced with a glib, clueless pup by a mega-corporation?

Rhetorical question.

Carter is a loveable twerp because he knows his failings; not enough to correct them, but at least enough to admit them. When his wife Kimberly (Selma Blair) ends their seven-month marriage, a lonesome Carter attaches himself to Dan and his family, especially Dan's 18-year-old daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson).

Dan doesn't find out about the burgeoning romance for a while, which is for the best as he has his hands full: Alex has been accepted to NYU - very prestigious, very expensive - and his wife Anne (Marg Helgenberger) just found out she is pregnant with their third child.

The cast is very good. David Paymer has some fine moments as a victim of downsizing and Lost in Translation co-star Scarlett Johansson is good at appearing attracted, but wary of the eager Carter. As the jittery Carter, Topher Grace does especially fine work; you can see his foot tapping nervously even when he is standing perfectly still. And Dennis Quaid just keeps getting better as he ages. Dan doesn't like Carter and he doesn't pretend to. His open annoyance, as relayed by Quaid, is a treat to watch.

Alas, the story falls into the sitcom realm too often and the end of the film lacks the sharpness that preceded it. Regardless, a grown-up comedy goes down nicely and In Good Company is a pleasure.

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