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The Company Men deserves a pink slip

Rating: **

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THE COMPANY MEN
**
DIRECTED BY
John Wells
STARS Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones

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Back in December, The Weinstein Company tentatively pushed The Company Men as a legitimate year-end award contender. Fortunately for the studio, it also had The King's Speech in its corner to pick up the Oscar slack. After all, the topic tackled in this lackluster drama — the alarming rate of downsizing in corporate America — was already handled perfectly in 2009's best film, Up in the Air. The Company Men, on the other hand, is a superficial look at this contemporary crisis, following a group of polished suits — shallow Bobby (Ben Affleck), panicky Phil (Chris Cooper) and introspective Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) — who find themselves shown the door at the conglomerate for which they've long toiled. Humbled and humiliated, the men are forced to make sacrifices like giving up their country-club golf memberships and trading in their Porsches — and, in the movie's most cringe-worthy moment, Bobby's son discards his Xbox for no discernible reason other than to bloodily claw at viewers' heartstrings. Luckily, Bobby's brother-in-law Jack (Kevin Costner), a salt-of-the-earth construction worker, is on hand to remind everyone that it's better to dance with wolves than finagle with stockholders, or something like that. With its unconvincing stabs at real-world misery and a contrived ending that's one degree removed from a deus ex machina, The Company Men can easily be ignored for more pressing business.

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