In the Company of Men (1997) Poster

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A gripping, intense character-driven study of human nature in the corporate world
polystyreneman6417 March 2003
Neil Labute's In the Company of Men is an amazing motion picture, one of the best films of 1997 and a shocking indictment of the ego-driven corporate world in which we live. On the surface, the film, expertly written by Neil Labute in his first feature effort, seems to be a cruel tale of misogyny. Lurking beneath the surface, however, is the film's true message, one which depicts the business world as a battle of survival of the fittest, a harsh world where men sacrifice their integrity and compassion in favor of oneupsmanship and greed.

Fed up with their failures with members of the opposite sex, two co-workers, Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) decide to play a cruel prank on an unsuspecting female victim. They will both date her, and then after a six-week period, they will dump her, a plan they've devised after years of being tormented and unlucky with women. They eventually choose their prey, a deaf typist named Christine (Stacy Edwards) and begin their quest, asking her for dates, sending her flowers, and sharing intimate moments. All this seems like a pleasant surprise to Christine after years of no dating--but, of course, she doesn't know the plan the men have hatched.

I don't want to reveal too much more about the plot than this. I will say that the film has two climactic scenes, one expected and the other inevitable in retrospect. The first climax makes the movie a success, the second makes the film great--only then do we see Labute's true intent.

Labute's cast of no-names is uniformly excellent. Eckhart, who has since become a Labute staple, delivers a fascinating performance as a truly despicable character, the smooth and fast-talking Chad. Matt Malloy is excellent as Howard, the "weaker" of the two men, and Edwards is great as the hapless deaf typist, presenting her character as likable, intelligent, and sensitive, not just a stereotypical handicapped woman. But the real star of the film is Labute's script. Judging by this, and his three more recent films (Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, and Possession--all quality films), Labute is a writer-director to monitor for years to come.

A noteworthy comment about In the Company of Men is that it has been marketed as a comedy. Those of you expecting slapstick humor and romantic charms might be better served seeing another movie. In the Company of Men is NOT comedy. There are elements of black humor, especially one particularly depraved scene involving one of the men and an office intern. However, In the Company of Men is more tragic than comic, a look into the tarnished male psyche brought on by years of corporate stress and paranoia. I couldn't help but think of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, another film about corporate greed in today's world when I was watching this one. However, while Glengarry plays as more of a character-driven mystery and morality play, In the Company of Men is much more insidious, and it offers no solutions in the end. In fact, the final shot of the film is, in my mind, one of the most memorable in modern cinema. Just who exactly has the upper hand?....

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One of the best-ever depictions of evil
Steve Schonberger28 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
This movie has no physical violence, but it's truly scary. Chad is evil. He hurts others' feelings for the pleasure of showing himself that he can. He has an explanation for his cruelty, but that's just to draw Howard in to play his game. Without that explanation, he'd still find reasons to be cruel, because his pleasure comes from seeing others in pain. Worse, he can get away with his cruelty, because he is charming, charismatic, and effectively manipulative in his dealings with people. Except in the central plot, he manages to hurt people without taking the blame, by making his victims blame themselves.

Howard is both a victim and a willing participant in Chad's evil plot. Without people like him, people like Chad are much less able to hurt others. But people who are too weak to stand in the way of bad people are fairly common. Even those weak enough to be drawn into the plots of bad people are common enough. Even a person strong enough to foil Chad's plot could only have done so if he had known about it, and Chad knew not to trust his plans with such a person. Howard had a chance to be the hero, but he was too weak and became another villain.

The central victim, Christine, started out suspicious, but was drawn in by Chad's skillful manipulation, and to some extent Howard's real interest in her. Chad was also good at choosing a victim who would fall for the plot, just as he chose an accomplice effectively. Other victims had other weaknesses that Chad found ways of exploiting, like the man whose speech he mocked in a way that made that victim feel like he himself was to blame.

Most people have never met a serial killer, but many have met people like Chad, who enjoy hurting others. The fact that Chad is an example of a more familiar type of evil makes him much scarier. He's more chilling because he doesn't have a clear reason for his badness -- he just enjoys being cruel. What is scarier than an evil that one can imagine falling victim to in everyday life?
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A portrait of the Alpha Male and how he got that way
Sean Gallagher23 February 1999
This is a riveting movie, but also an unexpected one. I didn't see this until it came out on video, and I had heard a lot about it of course, but luckily I was in the dark on the twist LaBute throws in at the end. Most people got that this was a study of male-female relationships from a wildly off-kilter view, and that was powerfully done. But I think most people missed this is also about the workplace, specifically the Alpha Male in the workplace, and how he got that way. Is it any wonder that Chad and Howard decide to make a game of their seduction of Katherine when it's clear they've had to plan their whole careers as if they were competing in a game of some kind?

I think I agree with an interview I saw with LaBute where he said he thought Howard was actually the more despicable character, because Chad is only in it for the game, where Howard starts to take those feelings seriously. Nevertheless, Eckhart's performance makes Chad one of the most chilling characters I've ever seen in movies. Where a lot of movie villains "indicate" to let you know they're just acting (which does work when it's done right), Eckhart gives away nothing, so you never know what he's thinking, even if he tells you what he's thinking. I hope he goes on to bigger things.
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Why was this movie so controversial?
stubhall16 November 2003
When I first heard about this movie my main motivation for seeing it was related to the controversy that surrounded it. I had heard all sorts of things said about what a misogynistic piece of garbage this was, but not afraid of a few negative reviews I went and saw it.

It's hard to say what impressed me most about this movie. I thought the performances were excellent, the dialogue was sharp and inciteful and the story intense. Aaron Eckhart's narcissistic, callous performance was amazing.

I cannot understand how this movie is misogynistic in any way whatsoever, as the characters are so hideous there is no way known you could empathise with them or consider their behaviour as anything other than abhorrent. I thought that the snapshot of the corporate male dominated workplace was fantastic and the picture it painted of testosterone charged males excellent.

The ending was amazing and I recall leaving the cinema and not being able to speak for a full 10 minutes.

See this movie.

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An ambitious & troubling film
Afracious2 May 2001
The film begins with two men in an airport lounge, both discussing how they recently broke-up with their girlfriends. The first man is named Chad (played by Aaron Eckhart). He is seemingly cordial to talk to but behind the smiling facade lies a loathsome, callous, spiteful fellow - one who is ruthless without showing any sign of remorse - in fact, he seems to derive great pleasure and pride from inflicting anguish on others, especially women. The other man is Howard (Mike Mallory), Chad's colleague at work and also a former member of the same college as Chad. Howard is a quieter chap, and seems to just go along with Chad's comments.

The two men have just arrived in a new town on a six week stay regarding their office work. Chad suggests that they date the same woman for the duration of the six week stay then dump her. Howard eventually agrees. The woman they pick is Christine (Stacy Edwards), a deaf woman who works in their office block. Chad thinks Christine is the perfect victim, with her being deaf, and mocks her distorted speech to Howard, and refers to her as a 'freak'. The two men start to date Christine, but problems start to arise when Howard bumps into them both in a restaurant. The film displays the start of each of the six weeks with a title and a burst of chaotic music. There are a few memorable scenes towards the conclusion of the film. The film focuses on the dog-eat-dog materialistic corporate world, and some of the envious and vindictive people that exist within it. I don't want to reveal any more, but I recommend you see this troubling film.
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Who is the real victim here?
jonathanlinscott28 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Most people I know who saw this movie thought that Chad was a total jerk; that Howard was a total sap (who got cajoled by Chad into being a half-baked jerk); and that Christine was the "victim" here. I disagree.

Chad and Howard were deliberately playing a 'game' (albeit a nasty and mean one) to strike back at the opposite sex for what they perceived to be inter-personal injustices perpetrated against them by the female gender. In doing this both Chad and Howard pursue Christine, despite her handicap, but whereas Chad continues the ruse until the bitter end, Howard actually does let his better sense of humanity prevail and falls in love, for real, with Christine.

But Christine chooses Chad over Howard, clearly because Chad was more cute and charming in her eyes. By contrast, she more than once breaks Howard's heart before anyone has a chance to break hers.

So, I would argue that HOWARD, not Christine, is the real victim here: he is set-up and manipulated by Chad, whom he reluctantly plays along with from the very onset, and has his true emotions trounced by Christine, whose vanity leans her toward Chad, who is heartlessly playing a cruel joke on her all along.

The movie is an excellent social commentary and is impeccably cast and brilliantly acted, all the way through. The real victim here, though, IMHO, is basic human decency.
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Fascinating and Important
Nick Dets26 April 2003
Neil Lebute's "In the Company of Men" is a film depicting emotional terror inflicted by two guys onto an innocent, deaf woman. One is sleazy, self-absorbed and mean-spirited, but charismatic and socially powerful and popular. The other is less than popular and tags along for his "therapeudic" plan to put a woman through romance-related stress to relieve them of their woman troubles. The result is a haunting, realistic wake-up call. From it's disorienting opener to a truly disturbing closing shot, "In the Company of Men" is a truly important motion picture.
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Harsh comedy that almost succeeds
bob the moo8 November 2001
Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) are in a new town for 6 weeks on business. Frustrated by the women in their lives they decide to use the time to seduce an insecure woman and make her feel loved - only to destroy her before they leave. They pick Christine (Stacy Edwards), a deaf girl from their office and set the plan in motion.

This is a fascinating black comedy looking at the macho world of American businessmen - although it is a look at the shallowness and competitiveness of men generally. The plot may sound simple but it is very powerful and insightful - although the men are exaggerated versions of reality in order to make clear points. The film doesn't totally satisfy but it is a great character piece.

Almost to a man the leads are all excellent, Eckhart is almost pure evil as the man who we all recognise or know, while Malloy is great as the man who wants to be in the game but is getting to the point where he longs for simpler values. Edwards is beautiful as the vulnerable Christine who gradually opens up with confidence as she is made to feel more and more special.

Labate's direction is spot on for this - most of the action is dialogue based and the sets are made like theatre sets. As such the direction is quite static but the camera is often set in very interesting shots. Labate's writing is the real strength with the whole dialogue strong, perhaps exaggerated and yet totally believable.

A wonderfully harsh drama that will make you aware that will carry you along effortlessly.
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This film is not a comedy!
Tiger_Mark15 July 2002
When I rented this film I had heard a lot of good things about it. I also heard that it was a comedy. It was in the comedy section. It was promoted as a comedy. IT WAS NOT A COMEDY! This is a very serious film that is sometimes very difficult to watch. Moreover, the ending is very depressing. Eckhart plays the biggest jerk in the history of film. A good movie that you will probably not enjoy watching.
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Monsters in suit and tie
Superunknovvn18 July 2006
"In The Company Of Men" is a simple story that is told in a simple way. A lot of shots are still frames that last for about 10 minutes, which centers the dialog and gives the movie a realistic feeling. And as scary as it may seem, "In The Company Of Men" is very realistic.

There are people like Chad and Howard out there. Even though few are really quite as devilish as Chad is, many who have a certain amount of power and income behave that way. That's why this movie isn't easy to watch.

Aaron Eckhart, Stacy Edwards and Matt Malloy do a great job. The direction is appropriate in its simplicity and the topic is an important one. Whoever has worked for a company like the one in the movie one time, will recognize the precipices of the human mind. Everybody should see this and learn.
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Disturbingly Cruel and Wicked
Claudio Carvalho1 September 2006
The executives Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) have just been rejected by their mates. While traveling for a six weeks temporary assignment in another office, they plot an evil game to get even with women. They plan to seduce a vulnerable woman and dump her with her feelings and self-esteem completely destroyed. When they meet the deaf secretary Cristina (Stacy Edwards), they find their perfect victim. However, things get complicated when Howard falls in love for Cristina.

The first time I saw "In the Company of Men" on 08 April 2000, I was really disturbed with this movie, which has been recently elected the number 28 in the ranking of the best fifty independent movies promoted by a cinema magazine. I decided to reevaluate my first view, and I did not change my original opinion that it is a gem of cruelty. The character Chad is actually the personification of evil, not those caricatures that we usually see in other movies, but a very real one that we face in our jobs, clubs or social lives. Chad is charming, handsome and charismatic on his outside, but rotten, ambitious, cold and malevolent inside, manipulating and destroying other people for his self-satisfaction and promotion. Howard is also a very real character, that type of stupid guy with lack of personality and self-esteem that is easily used by others, becoming a loser in the end. And the poor Cristina is the innocent victim of this nasty game with her initial pure and later broken heart. The game is actually against Howard and she is the tool. The performances of Stacy Edwards, convincing that she is actually deaf, and Aaron Eckhart, with his cynical character, deserved a nomination to the Oscar. The debut of Neil LaBute could not be better. For those who liked this film, I recommend "The Shape of Things" (2003), from the same director. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Na Companhia de Homens" ("In the Company of Men")

Note: On 15 February 2015, I saw this movie again.
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A challenging, yet rewarding film (spoilers throughout)...
stephen-44 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Where to begin. I have thought about the films I've seen over the last 5 years and tried to come up with some of the most significant. This film is one of them.

First of all. First-rate acting from the three principle characters. Chad (Aaron Eckhart), Howard (Matt Malloy), and Christine (Stacy Edwards). Particularly on the part of Stacy Edwards. Its very hard to imagine that she isn't hearing-impaired.

Hopefully people will see this film and it will open their eyes to what happens in the corporate society we live in. People like Chad and Howard exist in 90 percent of every office you have worked in and will ever work in. If you and I walked into any corporate workplace, I could point out the Chads and the Howards in the office. "Chad" that guy's a Chad. "Howard" that guy's a Howard. They may not fulfil the role exactly, but trust me it's them. The difference between what I point out and what you see, is that they have adapted to their roles better than these caricatures in the film (I'll explain this further with my impression of Chad). Neil LaBute presented us these simple characters, so its just a little easier for us to define.

Chad. Aaron Eckhart (poor sap :-)) had to walk the streets for a year with people hitting him over the head about his role in this film. He played it excellently, but over the top. Most of the Chad's I've seen aren't so obvious about their intentions. The Chads I know keep it hidden. That is one criticism about the film. Maybe LaBute told you to play it that way, so the blame may be elsewhere. However, one criticism of this film is that performance. Howard would have been a complete dimwit not to see through your machinations. Heck, upper management(management doesn't like the obvious) would have seen through you and not given you that promotion that you so desparately wanted. You are a sociopath. You are a lion that feuds with the other alpha male lions to achieve status in the food chain. After the end of the fight, you are nothing. You will be nothing. The corporate ladder that you so desparately want to climb, will lead to nothing. One hundred years from now, the Chads of this world. They will be exactly that, nothing. Just like the rest of us. The problem with people like you is that you are too stupid to understand this. This isn't a statement of Aaron's performance (which is very good). It's a statement about that character and what LaBute intructed.

Howard. Matt, you played the role as well as anyone could have played it. However, you got what you deserved. You allowed Chad to manipulate and ultimately control you. Of course, this was the only way. You are the weak. You are the people that are stepped on each and every day of the week in this corporate world. I would feel some sympathy for you, but you had selfish reasons for wanting Stacy. My sympathy would be with you if only you weren't so pathetic. Maybe LaBute wanted us to feel this way. LaBute was making this statement in the film, so maybe I'm justified in my opinion.

Christine. Wow. Stacy Edwards you are a terrific actress. I really, really hope you are able to shine in many other films. I can't quite remember the way I was so entranced with any performance in a film. I just thought you were totally capitivating. I couldn't believe you weren't hearing-impaired. Very good performance. Pains me to say this, because I thought you were excellent. However, you are far too beautiful for this role (I'm not complaining too much though!). Maybe LaBute could have lessened your looks somewhat, although thats doubtful. Its just hard for me to believe after 2 seconds of screen time that I (or any man) wouldn't want to date you :-). You were simply gorgeous.

* Observations *

I've read that this movie is misogynist. This is very untrue. It's clear to me that Labute's contempt was directed towards Chad and Howard. True, Christine was devastated. However, she is a survivor more than these "men" could ever be. Yes, she learned a lesson at the end of the film, but it only made her stronger. It was a lesson that Christine needed to learn. Howard learned nothing and will continue to be as weak and pathetic as he is.

Where does it end? There are no answers. That is the truth folks, sorry. There are no answers. Neil Labute gave us only a piece of our lives. A piece of how we live our lives today in this society. What you do with that life is up to you.

One of the best films I've seen in the past five years.

I very highly recommended film from me.

If you are young and entering the corporate world for the first time, SEE THIS FILM. THEN, WATCH IT AGAIN AND LEARN. This is an important film.
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Best Film of the 1990s
waltergl25 November 2002
That's a big statement, but I stand behind it without reservation. This is my favorite movie of the past decade and it easily makes my top five films of all time. First off, don't come in expecting a stylish, extravagant film with excellent cinematography. Neil Labute's direction is the epitome of minimalism, with virtually no camera movement and entire scenes played out in one shot. I'm not totally sure, but I'd say there are maybe two or three medium close-ups in the entire film, and that's it. The characters are always viewed from a distance, reflecting Labute's background in theater (if you like this, by the way, read Bash, it will blow your mind) and allowing his actors to be as realistic and naturalistic as possible. Contrary to popular belief, stage acting is more natural than film acting; Labute's distance and long takes create a realism that is rarely seen on celluloid.

This film is pretty much all dialogue, but this is some of the best-written dialogue I have ever heard. I don't think any man can watch this movie without recognizing some of the conversations that take place in this film. Aaron Eckhart and Matt Molloy are pitch perfect as the chauvinist, attractive, and ultimately evil Chad and the nerdy, pathetic, and ultimately emotionally doomed Howard. Stacy Edwards as the deaf Christine is also very strong; in fact, when I saw her in another movie speaking normally I almost fell out of my chair. I won't say much about the plot, for this is one of those movies that's really better to go in knowing nothing and watch the sickening events unfold. Let me just say that this film has a twist ending that marks one of the few moments in film that truly shocked me. In fact, I challenge anyone to sit still through this scene; I've seen the movie five times and it still makes me squirm in my seat. If you're looking for a big shock, look no further than this masterpiece, but don't expect a cheap thrill. Next to Vertigo, I don't think any film has hit me with a greater psychological impact. Oh, and if you're a female, and you don't want to become a lesbian, don't see this movie. Period. 10/10
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Life is for the taking, is it not?
Andy (film-critic)19 March 2006
Corporate America can be a very cruel place. The constant attention towards competition, survival of the fittest, and determination towards top performance can easily drive the sanest employee into an early stage of insanity. Thus, due to these pressures, employees are constantly found in a heated battle for the top spot or the illusive management position. Many will step directly onto your abdomen to ensure a promotion or pay increase. This form of random competition in Corporate America is very rare to capture, much less on film, but famed director Neil LaBute did a bit of the impossible. LaBute took the pressures of competition in Corporate America and camouflaged them using some stereotypes linked to "men" in the workplace. While some will argue that LaBute is doing nothing but exploiting male sexism/egoism and only built a stronger "glass ceiling" for women, I saw this completely different. Much like others, In the Company of Men initially enraged me due to the harsh treatment and depiction of women in the workplace, but then it occurred to me, that isn't what LaBute wants to show. As I watched this film a second time, I saw the real reason that LaBute created this picture. He wanted, and successfully accomplished, to show that you have to be smart both in your personal and business life if you want to succeed in this demolishing corporate world.

LaBute's approach to this ingenious subject reminded me of how Soderbergh used "sex" to debunk his story in sex, lies, and videotape. From the opening scene, we think we know what this movie is going to be about. We think we understand that this is just going to be another "dark" comedy about how cruel the corporate world can be to women, but wildly LaBute (like Soderbergh) will pull the hypothetical wool over your eyes if you are not careful. This is not a movie about sexism (while it is used quite often to hide the real truth), but instead the power of manipulation, the power of emotion, and the ability to use your friends to reach the top. This is the ultimate betrayal film. After watching this film, I read some reviews that discussed how viewers hated LaBute for doing what he did to Christine, and that made me a bit angry. I too was disturbed by Eckhart's performance, but by being upset about what happened to Christine, you miss the truth behind this film. When I finished watching this movie, I was more upset with LaBute for what he did to Howard (Matt Malloy) than with Christine.

How did this dramatic change occur? How could a viewer feel more sympathy for Howard than with the weeping Christine? LaBute has this amazing ability to cast believable actors that mold themselves well within their roles. Matt Malloy plays the perfect ying to Aaron Eckhart's yang. The two could not be closer to polar opposites, but the chemistry between them keeps us connected and glued to the screen. Their relationship reminded me of every Hollywood movie where the popular jock is great friends with the insecure geek. Malloy and Eckhart's relationship reminded me of the frat boy who happens to be a friend with the computer nerd. There is no initial understanding of why these two are friends or why they have anything in common. Sure, they went to the same college, but does that constitute life-long friendship? I believe from the beginning of this film, and possibly further into the pre-text, Eckhart has Malloy on a plan. We don't see the plan initially, but when it comes into light at the end, it hits us deep within our gut, giving us more pain than the Christine incident. How did LaBute set this up so well? Again, I state, Malloy and Eckhart. These two were methodical, malicious, and very close to perfection with their characters. We believed them. They sold us on themselves, which needed to happen for LaBute to make his point. Stacy Edwards is decent, but honestly LaBute could have had anyone in that role and we would have bought it. Why? Again, Malloy and Eckhart.

LaBute did not just give us impassioned characters with devoted actors, but he also gave us an amazing story. He used the power of language to give us our opening, plot, downfall, climax, and twisty ending. It is not often in Hollywood that you see this technique used. It takes a combination of both a great (and engrossing) story with sublime characters. We already know that we had the characters, but what about the story made it worth watching over and over and over again. Having seen American Psycho several times, I felt like LaBute had read Bret Easton Ellis' novel over and over. He embodied the spirit and insanity of corporate America nearly as well as American Psycho director Mary Harron did. The pacing was tight, the six weeks seemed to fly by because we were glued to the results. LaBute kept us glued to the screen by shocking us with sexist remarks, macho thinking, and corporate taboos. Then, when he thought that we were not paying attention, he gave us the ending of a lifetime. The writing for this film was quick, powerful, and thought provoking, which nearly symbolizes this film. LaBute should have won an Oscar for this powerful and intelligent piece of cinema.

Overall, I thought this film was vile, belittling, and grotesquely unsettling … which is why I cannot wait to add it to my collection. LaBute proves to us once again why he is a master behind the camera as well as a commander with his pen. I read a comment that stated that Eckhart's Chad is the epitome of a villain, and I could not agree more. Neil LaBute has given us his first in a very long line of challenging, yet beautiful, cinema.

Grade: ***** out of *****
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One of my Favourites
jedelstein23 October 2000
This is a totally unexpected find, a movie that you know nothing about when you sit down to watch it, yet totally engrosses you and blows you away. While the plot involves the seduction of a vulnerable female by two co-workers, the sub-plot is a dark look at the corporate world with an ending that will hit you in the gut. In the Company of Men should be watched by men, only with other men, and not with their significant female others. One of my favourites. Highly recommended for those who like dark comedies.
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Brilliant all the way around
spfi2 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
*****************Possible spoiler******************

Intense and sometimes shocking movie about two ignorant men who decide to rage their own private war on women. The sense of 'justice' our main characters employ taught me that two wrongs don't make a right. Be warned; the ending may leave a knot in your stomach, but a lesson on the way not to treat people who have done you no wrong. Brilliant film making.
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A Great Character Study
Brian Washington19 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I saw this film was in an ethics class and I found it extremely difficult to watch, not because I didn't enjoy it, but because it was hard for me to see how difficult it was for the two main characters Chad and Howard play their cruel game with Christine's heart. This is definitely a very engrossing movie on human nature. All the time I was hoping that Neil would get his in the end. Too bad this film allowed the truly evil one to win in the end.
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Controversial Debut Film For LaBute
CitizenCaine29 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Few films in recent memory provoke the polarized responses that first time Director Neil LaBute's In The Company Of Men does. From the early suggestion by Aaron Eckhart's character Chad to seduce and then dump a vulnerable woman to all the rest of his obnoxious comments, LaBute paints a picture of a vulnerable corporate ladder-climber afraid of losing control in his life. His bottom line is getting the one up on all the people in his orbit before they do. He knows how to play this game better than anyone around him also, especially better than his wimpy boss/friend Howard (Matt Malloy). Aaron Eckhart is absolutely astonishing as the corporate reptile with no conscience. Matt Malloy is just as perfect as Chad's boss/friend Howard, who has no idea that he's in over his head with Chad until it's too late. LaBute presents the wimpy Howard and the amoral Chad as corporate male bookends, who are finding it increasingly difficult to negotiate the corporate environment and female relationships.

Clearly the Howards of this world will fall through the cracks, if they don't at least occasionally consult with their inner Chad. What disturbs some viewers is that LaBute is right and they know it. They just don't want to believe it. Surely, they frequently see exactly the same kind of behavior transpire unabated both in workplaces and in social circles. The Chads of the world win out over the Howards of the world a vast majority of the time; wimpy does not win in the workplace or in love. Perhaps if LaBute provided some introductory exposition, a la Michael Douglas in Falling Down, it would be easier to understand how Chad came to be. However, that would have lessened his impact in the film significantly and reduced him to a disenfranchised caricature. Maybe there is no reason for Chad being the way he is, and that idea is frightening.

Admittedly, this is not a movie for all tastes, but there seems to be an abundance of misguided perceptions thinking this film is just some misogynist exercise. Perhaps the reason for this is those viewers' mistaken notions about who the real victim is in this movie: it's really Howard, not Christine. He's a victim of his own weaknesses, not so much of Chad or Christine, and his inability to realize them. Christine is victimized, but if it wasn't for her willingness to simultaneously date two guys as long as she did, the plan never would have turned out the way it did. However, she is far more assertive and able to address her mistakes than Howard. The ending makes this very clear, utilizing her unique perspective to have the final say. The ending also disturbs many viewers, but it's very consistent with its characters, who they are, and how they behave. One problem with the film is that Stacy Edwards is too beautiful to be believable as a wallflower type, but she is very good as the deaf, shy Christine. As with many low budget, independent features, the film's strongest elements are the screenplay and the acting. This is a bold effort, especially for a first film, making no apologies for its provocative assertions that are all too real too often. ***1/2 of 4 stars.
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Grossly overrated, not shocking, controversial or emotionally engaging in any other way
FlorisV11 June 2015
I felt cheated when watching this film because the comments were so promising, it was sure not to leave me unmoved while in the end that was all it did...

The minimalist low budget style with very little music and only the 2 friends chattering filling up the entire movie made it a rather dull experience. This film is as interesting at times as listening to your colleague nagging about his pension or car insurance.

Yes it's a sick plan these 2 guys agree on. And while I do get their anger towards women I don't get how their "revenge" would work if done against somebody (seemingly, but not all that) innocent. But of course the film is by that point not showing the real game that is being played.

People should not treat the given plot line, random victim being chosen to be hurt by cynical men, as shocking or's been done before and in more convincing ways. Watch Cruel Intentions or Dangerous Liaisons for viewing a more emotionally engaging manipulation story. Those films are not perfect but far more entertaining.

I read about this film when reading comments about a much better film, "Extension du domaine de la lutte", based on a Houellebecq novel. It had a lot more heart and soul than this waste of time, there is simply no value in this movie that can make me recommend it. No new insights, no deep feelings, nothing impressive. Don't believe the hype about this film.
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One of the ugliest characters
SnoopyStyle7 June 2014
Two middle management on a business trip talk about their relationships. Howard (Matt Malloy) is a meek sweet guy but Chad (Aaron Eckhart) is a bitter mean-spirited misogynist. Chad convinces Howard to get back at womenkind by finding a vulnerable woman to romance and dump. Christine (Stacy Edwards) is a new temp that fits the plan perfectly and she's deaf.

This is a disturbing movie. Chad is a psychopath and it's wonderful. It is original and compelling. Aaron Eckhart puts in a great performance as the douche. It's a shocking debut for Neil LaBute. He has written one of the most cynical disturbed ugliest human being on film that doesn't do anything that's actually illegal. Stacy Edwards is amazingly endearing and the reason why this works so well. But it's Eckhart's heartless performance that puts it over the top.
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There's no word for it except 'evil'
ametaphysicalshark11 February 2009
Wow, Neil LaBute doesn't like people much, does he? Just a couple of days after seeing his superb 2003 effort "The Shape of Things", I decided to watch his first film and Sundance hit "In the Company of Men". This makes the bleak, misanthropic "The Shape of Things" look like "Singin' in the Rain". The IMDb plot summary says it all: Two business executives--one an avowed misogynist, the other recently emotionally wounded by his love interest--set out to exact revenge on the female gender by seeking out the most innocent, uncorrupted girl they can find and ruining her life.

The avowed misogynist is Chad, played by Aaron Eckhart in one of the most subtly effective male performances of all time. Chad, this character, is probably the most purely evil character ever portrayed on film. Sure, there are psychos, sickos, nuts who chop people up, but they're really not all that real, and sometimes it's because they're not sane. Chad's real, and Chad's sane. When asked why he did it near the end of the film he says, coldly, 'because I could'. That's pure evil right there- a phenomenon we'd love to think is rare but which really isn't.

The film is not a 'comedy' as the IMDb page suggests. I find the suggestion to be absurd and idiotic. Sure, there is dark humor here, and it is ultimately satirical, but it is at least as much a drama as a comedy and in my own perception far more significantly a drama. The film confronts head-on the male-driven workplace and its victimization of women, it confronts head-on the brand of misogyny that isn't uncommon among the white male businessman in North America today. That's not to say these characters, and the situation, aren't exaggerated. Sure they are, but that's a perfectly conscious, acceptable decision by the writer. The important thing is that the characters feel real, and that it is entirely possible for something like this to happen.

Like "The Shape of Things" LaBute's screenplay is in-your-face and clear-cut about what it's trying to say. That there are people out there still having indignant 'it's so misogynist!' reactions to this film is amazing, they have to be either incredibly stupid or maybe they just weren't paying attention. Oh, I'm sure guys like Chad loved watching the film in spite of what it was trying to say because they supported his actions, but that doesn't change the fact that Chad is the villain in the film. Howard's a victim as well, not to the degree that Christine is, but still a victim. Without any overacting or psychotic antics, Eckhart embodies a significantly real, cold sort of evil which the movies rarely feature. This movie may feel a bit pointless in the end, because it's basically about how incredibly awful us human beings can be to each other, and how naive the victims amongst us are, but it's a terrific screenplay and film regardless.
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A Neil LaBute classic
Framescourer29 October 2008
Taut, stylish, touching and disgustingly misogynist. LaBute's small-scale kitchen-sink parable about men in the workplace is a dead-eyed look at lost love and fads: timeless truisms and modern trends that favour the unscrupulous opportunist. One might see it as a warning shot across the bows of the media-invented demands on men trying to decide between new-laddism and burgeoning 'metrosexuality'.

Either way, Aaron Eckhart's vile, not-quite-alpha male Chad goes in search of promotion and kicks by luring the impressionable Howard (Matt Malloy) into mistreating a new secretary, Christine. Pulling these sorts of office stunts is bound to complications and LaBute has a beautiful twist for the mix as well. Quietly demonic and horribly accurate. 7/10
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"Women. Nice ones, the most frigid of the race, it doesn't matter in the end. Inside they're all the same meat and gristle and hatred just simmering." - Chad
Michael Margetis21 October 2005
Neil LaBute's 'In the Company of Men' runs very much like a stage production. In fact I was utterly shocked when I heard it wasn't based on one. It should have been, and I would go so far as to say it should be adapted into a stage production. The reason I say this is because the film relies on the dialogue, acting and character's emotions to move the storyline, and not action or explosions or nudity. Nope, 'In the Company of Men' is like a 90-minute play following three key characters. The first is Chad (Aaron Eckhart - in his feature film debut performance), a young, good-looking cocky businessman who's a crude and cruel misogynist. His partner/boss is also his best friend, Howard (Matt Maloy) a semi-geeky quiet guy who's very shy, especially around women. Distraught about their incredibly back luck with the ladies, the two decide to go through with a plan (initiated by the devilish Chad of course) to find a woman, both target her and trick her into loving both of them, then just leave her with nothing. Howard goes along with the plan with doubts, while Chad warm-fully embraces the idea. During a six-week business trip, Chad meets a beautiful, kind, understanding and affectionate office worker who happens to be deaf (Stacy Edwards) -- Chad's perfect mark for this plan. The rest of the film is pretty much Chad and Howard trying to score this chick and zeroing in on their torturous plan. It doesn't sound very interesting and entertaining, does it? A lot of the film drags, but I really liked it for three reasons -- the three main characters.

The characters in Neil LaBute's 'In the Company of Men' are miraculous -- the three are very detailed and the actors who play them are phenomenal. Malloy is great as the nervous sap that is Howard and Edwards is always a pleasure to watch, but Eckhart steals the show by a mile. Astounding doesn't even begin to describe young Aaron Eckhart's performance in this as the sadistic and menacing power-hungry creep, Chad, who makes Stalin look like 'Mickey Mouse'. Chad could be described as a socio-path in that he doesn't give two sh*ts about anyone except himself and sneers at the thought of helping anyone out. For me, Eckhart was 100% believable during the entire runtime of the feature and he does such a fantastic job of reeling you into his mindset -- in other words Eckhart should have received an Oscar nomination for his work in this. Like I mentioned prior, Neil LaBute's writing has it's ups and downs and some pacing problems, and his directing is nothing impressive in the slightest. I'd say after viewing 'In the Company of Men' I was more interested in the greatly talented actor Aaron Eckhart then I was the filmmaker, Neil LaBute.

In conclusion, I recommend this if you could enjoy and appreciate a film based solely on superb acting. If not, don't waste your time with 'In the Company of Men'. If you can fully appreciate acting at it's best, be sure to check it out. Grade: B
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Macho Macho Men!
Henry Fields17 September 2004
As shown in "Shape Of Things" and in "In The Company Of Men" Neil LaBute seems to feel attracted by soul-less, cool-blooded, manipulative people... and that's nice, because I've always find evil characters much more interesting than the good ones.

A couple of executives are sent to some middle-America city for 6 weeks in order to give a hand to their partners there. They both seem to be a "little" misogynist (especially Aaron Eckhart's character), they talk about how evil the modern women are, and how they deserve a real punishment... So they decide to take revenge on a deaf secretary that works in the office they're going to. They've decided to tear her limb from limb... and they will.

LaBute shows no mercy. He's telling a story about real MF's and he doesn't gives us a break (nor to the deaf girl!): MF's have no conscience. The dialogues are just what we expect from a couple of women-hater "maquiavelos": cruel, sarcastic, politically incorrect... If I were a suspicious-minded I would think LaBute is just an especiallist in that kind of talks. Anyway, thanks God that there're some provocative filmmakers there in the Hollywood hills.

My rate: 7.5/10
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The Horror .....
Cheetah-630 August 2002
There are a few films that are so good at making us feel bad that they are hard to give the credit that they deserve. This is certainly one of those. What's really scary about this one is that it holds a mirror up on a certain faction of men that really exists, which is far scarier than any imagined evil of horror movies. In fact many "successful" corporate types are probably not that far from these superficial, self centered, insensitive characters we see here. I've read in many comments the reference to Chad as the "strong" one. Only great weakness turns to prey on those most venerable and trusting around them when they themselves are feeling hurt or mistreated. He has a large ego and a good act, not strength. Howard is just the type that goes along to be accepted or be part of the guys who appear to be cool. Very effective film at striking a sense of uneasiness and loathing in the viewer and placing a little palpable distance between men and women as they leave the theater.
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