January 28, 2011 at 1:00 am

Review: 'Company Men' clocks in with lackluster result

Kevin Costner, left, and Ben Affleck are jobless in “The Company Men.” (The Weinstein Company)

"The Company Men" is one of those well-made, well-intentioned films that is also somewhat dull and depressing.

There's no lack of star power here — Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper and Kevin Costner — and the topicality of the subject matter, the aftermath of layoffs, can't be denied.

But this is a film without spark. The frustrations are real, but they are neither terribly entertaining nor enlightening. You can pretty much see every turn coming in writer-director John Wells ("ER") film, and there's an underlying nostalgia for the good old days that simply feels too easy.

It also doesn't help that we're supposed to feel sorry for three guys who've led the fat-cat executive life. Affleck plays Bobby Walker, a hotshot middle-management guy at a ship-building company who is suddenly let go. Heavens, he may have to cancel the membership at his club.

Not far behind Bobby is Phil Woodward (Cooper), in his late 50s and virtually unemployable, with kids in college. And then comes Gene McLary (Jones), the company's most senior employee.

All these layoffs are orchestrated by company owner James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson), a money-grabber just this side of Satan.

Bobby's practical, loving wife (Rosemarie DeWitt, inside the character as always) is supportive even as he's in denial. Eventually, he goes to work for her contractor brother (Costner) doing humbling chores.

And he learns the real meaning of life? Sort of. Let's just say all rich people aren't fully evil and salvation is on its way.

Which is about as hopeful as Wells can get, what with millions of people still unemployed. "The Company Men" ends up limited in both scope and impact, and a bit too convenient for its own good.

'The Company Men'

GRADE: C

Rated R: For language and brief nudity

Running time: 104 minutes

tlong@detnews.com

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