The Company Men comes to theaters nationwide on Friday, January 21.

By Kacy Boccumini

About a year ago, I wrote a review for Up in the Air, and I suggested that that film asks viewers the question:  Who am I if I am not my job. John Wells’ The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and the incomparable Tommy Lee Jones, strives to answer this question.

Affleck is Bobby Walker, think if Joel Goodson from Risky Business grew up, married, and had kids.  This would be him, complete with the Porsche and ego.  He has a giant house, a giant office, and he perches atop a giant rock of MBA self-confidence.  His fall is immediate and mighty, and we are asked to follow him through his journey of self-discovery, negotiating his manhood with his family, and coming to terms with NOT being the master of his own destiny.

Wells does a good job articulating all of the nuances of losing a job:  The pink slips, the wicked HR department, the job resource center, the long lines of over-qualified candidates for every job, and the FOR SALE sign on the house.  While it is definitely relatable for the audiences, at times it feels more like an after-school special for adults to help build their self-esteem and self-image, than a serious film.

Affleck holds his own in scenes with juggernauts like Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, and a bit, but extremely well-acted Kevin Costner.  He overacts to the more emotional scenes, but handles the sweeter moments with his usual charm and accessibility.

Opposite Affleck, Chris Cooper plays Phil Woodward, a seasoned corporate manager that worked his way up from the factory floor only to find himself outsourced as well.  Cooper delivers again in this film, as the everyman.  Unlike Affleck’s MBA slickness, Phil is hardened by years of clinging to the next rung, and given his age, his working life, as he knows, it seems bleak.

At the helm of the Division, Gene McClary, played perfectly by Tommy Lee Jones, is a working mans’ executive at the top of his game, who is conflicted with the real life effects of his companies greed.  While Affleck is the main storyline, it is McClary’s actions that drive the narrative, illustrating that the company men with all of the power, make all the rules, or change the game.

With fantastic supporting performances by Maria Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Craig T. Nelson, The Company Men, although a little touchy feely, and hits very close to home in the economic downturn drama coming out this Holiday season.  It’s worth it to see Tommy Lee Jones’ triumphant return to the big screen, as he is as mesmerizing and charming as ever.  His style is effortless, and it makes you yearn for all powerful men to follow suit!