WHEREAS SOME critics took Paul Weitz's corporate dramedy (on disc May 10) to task for sugarcoating the cutthroat world of advertising, I thought Company simply humanized a much-stereotyped, little-understood milieu. Still, as the director notes on the commentary, which he shares with star Topher Grace: "DVD commentaries lend themselves to self- congratulation." So, unfortunately, do featurettes. Company's range from typical behind-the-scenes fluff to insidious advertising—ironic for a film that glorifies honest business. The featurette "Youth" finds Grace's love interest, Scarlett Johansson, lauding his comic timing and "sensitivity" with a blank, ultraprofessional tone. In "Getting Older," the sycophancy comes on stronger: Grace suggests there's "so much to be learned" from older colleagues—like Dennis Quaid's character, who resents Grace's much younger boss.
Luckily, things get a whole lot better on the commentary. Weitz is modest and even self-deprecating throughout, and he provides some helpful insights into the film's visual style. During the opening sequence, in which Quaid prepares for work, Weitz says: "When you're a kid, you get certain angles on your dad"—generally low angles. Those angles, it turns out, are what he tries (successfully) to re-create. Grace claims that Weitz let him be "as unlikable as possible" in the film's first act, though he doesn't even approach the sinister, amoral blankness he displayed in Traffic. Still, what unpleasantness he does bring to the character gives Company its momentum, since we grow to tolerate Grace at roughly the same rate as Quaid does. Perhaps Weitz's best observation is that the mixed-age ensemble allows different audience members to "access" the film in very different ways. He reports that his own father disagrees with him about which performer the movie belongs to; one of Company's strengths is that there's no wrong answer.
ALSO NEW to DVD are Jonathan Demme's excellent documentary about Haiti, The Agronomist; the Danish drama The Inheritance; Travolta's dismal sequel Be Cool; David Cronenberg's psycho brothers flick Dead Ringers; the gay-marriage documentary Tying the Knot; and the somewhat beyond- category Japanese Battlefield Baseball. Among worthwhile oldies, Fox is reissuing Nightmare Alley and Sam Fuller's House of Bamboo. A new Steve McQueen set includes the classic cop-chase flick Bullitt. Also look for the music docs Made in Sheffield and Moog.