Peer to Peer Magazine

September 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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THE COMPANY MEN by management to have no further career moves with the company because he never went to college. So what does Larry do now? Well, as the immensely likeable title character in a movie co-written, produced, directed and starring the immensely likable Tom Hanks, the normally sunny fellow very briefly suffers only two or three dark moments of pseudo-despair. But after a highly animated pep talk by his neighbor (Cedric the Entertainer, indeed entertaining as a professional yard sale proprietor), Larry climbs right back into the saddle. In rapid succession, he replaces his now-unaffordable car with a second-hand scooter, enrolls in community college, makes some new, young friends and updates his wardrobe and hair style. He also quickly falls under the academic and, later, romantic spell of a beautiful but grumpy Mercedes Tainot, whose Welcome Back, Kotter-like public speaking class and ultimate affection for Larry change his life. That affection, by the way, is slower coming than Larry's A+ final grade, because — thanks to Ms. Tainot's lazy, porn-surfing husband — she's become pretty much turned off to men and turned on to homemade margaritas. I won't reveal much more except to say that there are a few amusing twists and turns on Larry's road to renovation, predictable but entertaining, and an "awww"-type ending you see coming from two zip codes away. Once again, Julia Roberts makes a good, if not entirely believable, co-star for Hanks. And every member of the supporting cast of mostly unknowns is excellent. One familiar face is Star Trek's Mr. Sulu, George Takei, playing a rather odd economics professor. His few scenes are funny (although far less so than the continuously guffawing man sitting next to me in the theater apparently thought). Four words about the reviews: Ignore the unappreciative ones. While not a great movie, LARRY CROWNE is pleasant, well-intentioned and, as you'd expect, sprinkled with the kind of giggles we've enjoyed in Hanks' popular earlier films like BIG, THE MONEY PIT and even Bosom Buddies, the goofy 1980-81 TV series that launched his career. Hanks, the co-writer and director, avoids showing us the hard reality of job-hunting in today's depressed economy, giving us, rather, a pat Hollywood solution to every challenge Larry faces. But LARRY CROWNE's story does remind us how abruptly one's position, paycheck and work identity can evaporate without the proper education, and it nudges us to discover how good things can be! ILTA Andy Spiegel is a creative director for a business software company based in Austin, Texas, and he's a freelance writer. An ardent movie watcher, he maintains a blog called "Austinlad's Private Screening Room," which spotlights movie reviews of films from the '30s to today. He can be reached at austinlad@austin.rr.com. I n contrast to LARRY CROWNE's softer, gentler view of unemployment, THE COMPANY MEN (2010) is gritty and giggle-free. Both stories end on a positive note, but writer-director John Wells, executive producer of such hard-hitting TV shows as ER, Third Watch and The West Wing, shows us a far more harsher view of how men react to being fired — what it does to his spirit and sense of worth. The story takes place during a very rough year for three corporate denizens (Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper). Abruptly pink-slipped during a round of corporate downsizing at a multinational firm, each man handles the calamity in a different way. Of the two older men, one considers retiring from work (Cooper); the other (Jones), retiring from living. But the youngest of the trio, Bobby Walker (Affleck), an up-and-comer who's totally hooked on living the American dream (beautiful wife and kids, big title, fat paycheck and, of course, a heap of debt), simply ignores his plight, thinking it's only a shallow pothole he'll have no difficulty hopping. "I'll have a new job in a few weeks — no worries," he tells his skeptical wife (who writes checks for the bills each month). As the weeks go by, unable to find a job and his severance pay almost exhausted, Bobby finds himself increasingly helpless and hopeless. Suffering a series of ego-sapping realities (life coaching, doing part-time dry-walling for his blue- collar brother-in-law (Kevin Costner), losing his sports car and having to sell his big beautiful house and move his family in with his parents), Bobby finally … well … how he and the others wind up faring is something I'll leave for you to discover. THE COMPANY MEN has a fine supporting cast, including the aforementioned Costner, Craig T. Nelson as a CEO who suffers no misfortune other than having to fire his best friend (Jones), Rosemarie Dewitt as Bobby's supportive wife and Maria Bello as the unfortunate senior HR manager forced to deliver the bad news to dozens of employees, including a senior manager who's also her lover (also Jones). Grab yourself a big bucket of popcorn and see both movies on a Saturday night. You'll be happy to be back to work on Monday. ILTA Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 85

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