Watching The Company Man (Paramount Classics) is like being in English and international affairs hell. Although film offers a star-studded cast, including Woody Allen, John Turturro, Alan Cumming and Sigourney Weaver, it largely fails to entertain.
The Company Man follows events after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, led by the infamous Fidel Castro. The film takes a light-hearted look at the resulting Bay of Pigs incident, in which the United States sent a small army of dissidents to invade Cuba.
Directors Douglas McGrath – who also plays lead character Allen Quimp – and Pete Askin waste big-named actors’ time and talent with a generic and contrived script.
The story follows Allen Quimp’s adventures in communist Cuba as he inadvertently caused the Bay of Pigs debacle. The plot unravels through Quimp’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Quimp, a dorky high school English teacher who constantly corrects everyone’s grammar, tells his nagging wife, Daisy (Sigourney Weaver), that he is an undercover CIA agent. Tickled pink that her husband is not the nobody she thought he was, Daisy tells the entire town. A Russian ballet dancer, played by Ryan Phillippe, who happens to live in their little Connecticut town, hears of Quimp’s secret identity and decides to defect with his help.
Because his identity is known, Quimp is of little help to the CIA, which decides to send him to Cuba where he can do little damage. Quimp is set up as an undercover radio dick jockey. On his arrival Quimp meets Agent Fry (Denis Leary), and as a result of his irritating personality, Quimp gets Fry to confess that he is leaking military secrets to the communists.
The appearance of supporting characters is one strong point of the film. Woody Allen, who plays Chief Lowther, delivers some of the funniest one-liners in the movie. Agent Johnson (John Turturro) is a testosterone-infused anticommunist who, with the help of Quimp, leads several insane attempts to knock off an up-and-coming Castro.
Alan Cummings plays the deposed General Fulgencio Batista, an effeminate dictator who cares more about his wood floors than his country. Quimp, Johnson and Batista, joined by Daisy, try to take down Castro with LSD, hair remover, a poisoned pen and poisoned cigars – all of which fail miserably.
Meanwhile, CIA headquarters, seemingly forgetting that Quimp is a moron, tries to interpret songs he plays on the radio thinking they are official military communications. Songs from the 1950s, like “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka dot Bikini” and “I am a Hog,” lead them to believe that Quimp is in trouble and that he is requesting an amphibious attack on the Bay of Pigs. After Quimp faces the Senate committee, the CIA cannot decide what to do with him, and ends up sending him back to Vietnam.
This movie, which runs 81 minutes, is moderately amusing if the audience gets over the forced script and consequently poor acting. The film gives the impression that McGrath and Askin came up with some vaguely funny jokes about the whole conflict and decided to write a movie around them.
Decent actors like Cumming and Weaver come off as just terrible because of the clich? roles they are forced to play. McGrath lacks the comedic persona to pull off his character. His character is never even nervous about the mess he gets himself into – a decision on McGrath’s part that eliminates the potential hilarity of the situation.
The audience cannot even laugh at the nerd jokes – only solemnly agree. The Company Man tries to spoof old movies like The Pink Panther and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, but the recent attempt is not nearly as funny as the originals.
On the most superficial level The Company Man is a mildly funny movie with many predictable and worn-out jokes. The film’s impressive star power should not fool audiences – not even they can save this flop of a movie.
Company Man is in theaters now