Company Man

on March 09, 2001 by Tim Cogshell
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   "Company Man" is a silly early '60s romp about a bumbling, underachieving high school grammar teacher, Allen Quimp (Douglas McGrath), whose shrew of a wife, Daisy (Sigourney Weaver), is constantly pressuring him to make something of himself. To get her off his back he tells her that he's only masquerading as a weird little English instructor, and that he's actually a deep-cover CIA operative. She doesn't believe him, of course, but when he accidentally helps a Russian ballet dancer (Ryan Phillippe) defect she wonders if it might be true, and proceeds to tell absolutely everyone. Indeed, when a couple of real Company Men show up to find out what's going on, they decide it'd be better to recruit Quimp rather than have it get out that a grammar teacher pulled off a major defection while posing as a CIA agent. To get rid of their embarrassment they send him to Cuba where he won't pose any problem. Once there--and when not correcting the grammar of everyone with whom he comes in contact--Quimp unwittingly stumbles upon a double agent planning Castro's coup, and sparks the launch of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs operation. It's all very silly, though only occasionally funny. McGrath, who wrote "Bullets Over Broadway" and wrote and directed the well received Gwyneth Paltrow film "Emma," writes and co-directs with Peter Askin here. The duo draws on a considerable list of industry friends to fill out their cast, including John Turturro as a deranged CIA agent, Alan Cumming as General Batista and Bill Murray, who, among others, was left out of the litigated final cut of the film. McGrath's mentor, Woody Allen, also turns up in a large cameo role, giving his best acting-only performance since "Scenes from a Mall." Unfortunately, it all adds up to a few good bits spread thinly across an even thinner concept for a movie.    Starring Douglas McGrath, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, Anthony LaPaglia, Ryan Phillipe, Denis Leary, Woody Allen and Alan Cumming. Directed by Peter Askin and Douglas McGrath. Written by Peter Askin and Douglas McGrath. Produced by Guy East, John Penotti and Rick Leed. A Paramount Classics Release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual humor and drug content. Running Time: 83 min.
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