The Company Men

The Company Men is 2010 American drama film, written and directed by John Wells. It features Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones.

The Company Men
A group of people in business clothes look up at two distant figures also in business clothes walking across suspended wires.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Wells
Produced byJohn Wells
Paula Weinstein
Claire Rudnick Polstein
Written byJohn Wells
StarringBen Affleck
Chris Cooper
Kevin Costner
Tommy Lee Jones
Music byAaron Zigman
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited byRobert Frazen
The Weinstein Company
Battle Mountain Films
Spring Creek Productions
Distributed byThe Weinstein Company
Release date
  • January 22, 2010 (2010-01-22) (Sundance)
  • January 21, 2011 (2011-01-21) (United States)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$8.1 million[1]

It premiered at the 26th Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2010 and had a one-week run in December 10, 2010 to be eligible for the year's Academy Awards. The movie was released commercially in the United States and Canada on January 21, 2011.


When the publicly held shipbuilding corporation Global Transportation Systems, or GTX, is downsized in the midst of the recession, many employees are fired, including Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck). Walker is a white-collar, corporate ladder-climbing employee with a six-figure salary, a wife, and a teenage son and younger daughter.

Walker gets outplacement services from GTX but, without success, gradually loses luxuries such as his country club membership and his Porsche. He finally resorts to selling his expensive house (with a large mortgage) and moves his family in with his parents. Ultimately, Walker is forced to take a manual labor job working for his blue-collar brother-in-law, Jack Dolan (Kevin Costner), installing drywall.

Chief Financial Officer Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) challenges GTX CEO James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson)'s strategy of employee cutbacks and questions the ethics of spending money to build new corporate headquarters while laying off employees. Angry at being questioned by McClary, his longtime friend, college roommate, and first employee, Salinger asserts that the deep cuts are necessary to increase profits, to increase the stock price and discourage a rumoured hostile takeover of the company.

Later, it is determined that an additional round of lay-offs is necessary. Senior manager Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper), who, over the course of 30 years, had risen from the factory floor to the corporate offices (a decidedly rare accomplishment), is also fired. When McClary demands that senior HR manager Sally Wilcox (Maria Bello), who is also his mistress, rehire Woodward immediately, she tells him that he, too, is being fired.

Woodward's life quickly falls apart as employer after employer tells him he is either too old to start a new career, or too old to do jobs that those half his age find difficult. At his wife's request, Woodward goes out every morning as usual with his briefcase to keep his situation secret from the neighbors, but he cannot do anything to abate his mounting bills or his daughter's impending college tuition bill. Frustrated and depressed, he commits suicide in his garage by carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Despite McClary's anger, he has become even wealthier as a shareholder of the firm (the value of his GTX stock options increases due to the company's downsizing), but he feels guilty about his company ruining so many lives and, instead, would rather put people to work. Feeling the need for a change, he leaves his wife and starts his own business. Walker is the first person he hires.

Walker arrives at the bare offices to help start a new business composed of many former GTX employees.



The Company Men is directed by John Wells in his feature film debut. He also wrote the screenplay and produced the film. The project was first announced in January 2008 by the newly formed production company Berk/Lane Entertainment.[2] In September 2008, actor Ben Affleck joined the cast.[3] By March 2009, actors Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones joined the cast. Production began the following month, April 2009, in Boston, Massachusetts.[4] It completed in June 2009 (filmed April–June 2009, curiously exactly 12 years after when Good Will Hunting was filmed,in April–June 1997, another film Ben Affleck acted in).[5][6][7] Partial filming for the production occurred in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston and also in the Boston suburbs of Burlington, Wellesley, Framingham, Marblehead, and the Quincy shipyard.[8]


The Company Men had its world premiere at the 26th Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2010.[9] The film was purchased by The Weinstein Company, which committed to print and advertising commitment and a theatrical release in the United States and Canada in a mid-seven figure deal.[10]

The film had a minimal release in Los Angeles and New York City on December 10, 2010. The release lasted a week to become eligible for nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards.[11] It had a limited release in 106 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 21, 2011.[12][1]

Critical receptionEdit

The Company Men has received generally positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 67% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 162 reviews, with an average score of 6.4/10. The website's consensus reads, "It might be hard for most viewers to identify with The Company Men's well-heeled protagonists, but writer/director John Wells uses their plight to make universally resonant points — and gets the most out of his excellent cast."[13] On Metacritic, the film achieved an average score of 69 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14]

Many critics praised the film for telling a story that reflects the economic climate of the United States in the first decade of the 2000s. Rex Reed of The New York Observer stated the film "does a piercing job of making you feel the dehumanizing effects that losing a job can have on grown men, but it's more truthful and devastating than that."[15] Stephen Holden of The New York Times also notes parallels between the 2009 film Up in the Air and praised the performances from Affleck, Jones and Cooper.[16] Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips praised the cast, but criticized the story, saying that the actual status of the economic climate "demands a tougher, gutsier script."[17]

The film was named one of the best films of 2010 by David Denby of The New Yorker.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "The Company Men". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ Peters, Derek (January 14, 2008). "Wells, Levin stroll down Berk/Lane". Variety.
  3. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (September 24, 2008). "Affleck eyeing good 'Company' of real-life drama". Reuters.
  4. ^ Fleming, Michael (March 18, 2009). "Costner, Jones are 'Company Men'". Variety.
  5. ^ "Jones and Jackson Reunite for HBO Drama" Archived 2009-08-24 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 5, 2009
  6. ^ "'The Company Men' film heads to Boston in April" Archived 2009-04-11 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 5, 2009
  7. ^ "First Look: John Wells' The Company Men" Retrieved September 5, 2009
  8. ^ "Ben Affleck filming 'The Company Men' in Roxbury" Archived 2009-04-23 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved October 4, 2009
  9. ^ Swart, Sharon; McClintock, Pamela (January 24, 2010). "Lionsgate digs 'Buried' at Sundance". Variety.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (March 24, 2010). "Weinstein Co. nabs 'Company Men'". Variety.
  11. ^ Corliss, Richard (December 12, 2010). "The Company Men: You're Hired!". Time. ...the film is playing for a week in New York and Los Angeles, to qualify for this year's Oscars.
  12. ^ Abrams, Rachel (January 21, 2011). "Will Par's 'Strings' resonate?". Variety.
  13. ^ "The Company Men Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  14. ^ "The Company Men Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  15. ^ Reed, Rex (December 7, 2010). "Up the Creek Without a Paycheck: The Company Men Paints a Moving, Nuanced Picture of Life After Layoffs". Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  16. ^ Holden, Stephen (December 9, 2010). "Perils of the Corporate Ladder: It Hurts When You Fall". Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  17. ^ Phillips, Michael (January 20, 2011). "Strong effort yields merely adequate "Company"". Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  18. ^ Denby, David (December 8, 2010). "The Best (and Worst) Films of the Year". Retrieved January 21, 2011.

External linksEdit