In Good Company, directed by Paul Weitz.
A stream of consciousness plot summary combined with a personal reaction.
(Warning: contains plot spoilers.)
He had to fire his friends. And one was like Fuck you, man! and the other was so understanding, he had only one question, a question that couldn't be answered but just had to be asked, What the hell am I supposed to tell my wife? She already wears the pants. Now she has to wear the coat and tie too. And Dan just looked at him, but you know he was torn up. He wanted to say, It wasn't my decision, I laid down on the tracks for you and shouted like hell: I shall not be moved, but he couldn't say it. Because he did decide it. And it would be so easy for his friend to accept this answer because it's life, and life goes on no matter how tightly you try to hang onto the doorway, it just tears you away, no matter how fast you hold onto the placenta, you just get ripped right out. Thrown into a suit, made to shake hands and laugh at the appropriate moments and jump when instructed. Jump!
Carter, 26 and already his life had peaked. Already a divorcee. Already the boss. But what did it all mean to him? Everything was just a stepping stone leading to the next big thing, whatever that may be, on whoever it may lie. Until he had dinner at Dan's house. Until he fell in love with Dan's daughter. Until Dan socked him in the face. Until she broke his bruised heart. Until they saved their jobs together. Until Dan said... And the best thing is, it will help his company.
And then Carter said, This all really means something to you, doesn't it?
Of course, why else would I be doing it? Dan smiled, like he was on top of Mt Olympus shooting pool with the guys.
And then it hit Carter.
And then Carter was fired.
And Dan did nothing to stop this.
But what could he have done, anyway?
And then a month later, he calls Carter up, having been given his old job (and now, Carter's old job) back. He offers Carter a job as his second in command.
The offer means the world to Carter.
Carter says no.
I want what I do to really mean something to me, the way all of this means something to you. And they hug. And Carter closes his eyes real tight, standing at the edge of the canyon, not looking down. Looking up. He doesn't cry. He really wants to, but he doesn't cry.
When he gets off the elevator at the ground floor, he bumps into one of Dan's old friends. He was rehired as well, and his wife was just laid off. Timing is everything, he says.
He bumps into Scarlett Johansson, Alex here. They exchange words that don't mean very much but there's that look. You know, the look that overrides whatever meaningless tangents you awkwardly force between your lips. The look that says, No really, how have you been? The look that says, If you smile for me just one more time, this lump in my throat might explode. The look that says, We will never see each other again.
Except one phrase escapes Carter's mouth that didn't come from the babbling brook of what-else-can-I-say-to-make-you-stand-here-for-just-one-more-minute.
She asked, How is everything? And he said, Good. Really good.
Where did that come from? How can he say that, after all that's happened?
He says, I'm leaving the city.
She looks at him through the closing elevator doors just like she gazed after him that first night through her bedroom window back home. This time knowing more and she ever did before.
And he leaves the city.
In the last scene, Carter is jogging on the beach, and Trapeze Swinger is playing, and the credits begin to roll.
Dan Foreman stood up to K fuckinwhatshisname and said What do computers have to do with sports? Or cereal with cellphones? What do layoffs have to do with working together? We're a company, not a country. A magazine, not a colonizing empire. And he looked at K, and his colleagues, who not too long ago shook with fear that they would be the next to be "let go" (Why do you call it that? Dan asked Carter. You're not letting them go. They don't want to go. You're firing them. Just say that.) And K looked back at them and said, You've asked some excellent questions... and I'm going to turn them over to all of you. Think on this. And he left. And they clapped. And he sold the motherfucking company. And the asshole from Globecom got fired, had it coming. He said I feel like I've been used. And he was. And you want to feel victorious, that he was finally out the door too but you can't cuz he's fucking human too.
What about the people that don't get to go jogging on the beach? Where does that leave the rest of us? Not all of us have that much time, and a lot of us have lost our running shoes.