I thank my lucky stars every day that the longest period I’ve been involuntarily unemployed for since the age of 16 (meaning I’m not counting periods in college where I didn’t work) was about four days. Only once have I gone through the humiliation of actually losing a job and even then, well, I couldn’t really blame them. Besides, it led me to the job I have now and I’ve never been more satisfied. So, praise be to God, I don’t have horror stories of my own. But I know people who do and it scares me to know end.
Too many people are in that kind of situation in recent years and the story of corporate downsizing is the one that’s told in the new movie The Company Men. Three men played by Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Carpenter all lose their jobs at a company and all three deal with it in different ways. They cycle through denial, anger and the other stages of grief as they try to deal with a life they’ve never known, one without gainful employment.
The movie’s poster takes an interesting tone and one that doesn’t seem to be fully in line with the marketing materials that had been released before it.
All four of the men – Jones, Affleck, Cooper and Costner – are shown here along with Maria Bello, who’s only briefly seen in the trailer but who’s included here for some reason I’m not quite clear on. They’re all looking up at a couple of figures who are walking on tightropes above them, an image I assume represents these characters being on the outside of the corporate stresses and looking in on them from that vantage point.
It’s an alright poster but it doesn’t really provide any interesting points that it’s trying to sell the movie by. Having a bunch of actors standing around looking at something isn’t exactly the most dynamic image in the world and there’s little here that goes in to the movie’s story or makes us care in any meaningful way about the characters.
The first trailer, released just a week or so in advance of the film’s debut at Sundance ’10, is wordless but full of emotion. Because no dialogue is featured it can be, at times, hard to follow completely but you do get the general overview of this being a film that follows the three main characters as they navigate the difficulties resulting from major life upheavals. Most of the relationships are more or less sorted out but there’s very little time where all three core actors are on screen together so it’s assumed that it’s a sort of “bobbing in and out” story with everyone’s arc touching the others at various points.
While that was more of a promotional reel, the first official trailer was much more traditional though no less impactful.
The official trailer sells Affleck as the main focus of the movie as we follow his story from an ordinary day at the office through the process of finding himself laid off and struggling to find a new job to the extent that he agrees to sign on with his brother-in-law’s construction company and through him eventually on the verge of starting something new with Jones’ character, who also finds himself without work. Jones’ character is obviously a high-ranking executive who attempts to struggle against the massive layoffs coming. Cooper is shown only a few times but it’s clear he’s a mid-level executive who is laid off along with thousands of others but who takes it particularly hard.
As I said, the trailer emphasizes Affleck and makes the movie appear to be a vehicle for him but the hints there involving Jones and Cooper make it appear to be more of an ensemble movie, which is actually more interesting.
I’m not even entirely sure the movie has an official website. Back around the movie’s appearance at Sundance a teaser site was put up but it very much looked like a small affair that was meant to act partly as a sales tool for interested distributors to find or for people to check out after hearing some of the festival buzz.
When the movie was acquired by TWC it got one of their placeholder sites but with a full site promised there. But it opens tomorrow and that link to the site is still labeled as “Coming Soon” and doesn’t go anywhere, so it’s entirely possible there is no site to even discuss here other than that placeholder, which just has the poster, a synopsis and the trailer
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing here that I’ve come across.
Media and Publicity
The vast majority of the movie’s press and buzz have come either the movie’s appearance and activities at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival or the release of various marketing materials. It’s been mentioned as a movie some people were excited about seeing in the last part of the year, but there haven’t been any major stories that I’ve seen that have been coordinated to help raise the movie’s profile.
It has a good trailer and a decent poster, but the missing components of this campaign are just too glaring to really overlook. No website to speak of? That’s just bad. And while the lack of advertising isn’t completely surprising, the fact that press opportunities don’t seem to have been taken is, and all that combines to a lackluster campaign for a movie that has some decent word-of-mouth behind it.
More than a little disappointing for a movie that has such a hefty cast.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
- 10/23/10 – The movie’s place in Hollywood’s history of examining the issue of jobs, success and related topics gets examined by The New York Times.
- 11/07/10 – Another story along the same lines was published by The Los Angeles Times, though this time looking at how Hollywood doesn’t seem to be paying attention to focusing on recession themes.