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In Good Company – Relationship

In Good Company – Relationship

Criticized by commentators as a movie lacking innovation, Paul Weitz’s In Good Company embodies the complexity of contemporary relationships. The film covers how individuals juggle work and personal relationships. In Good Company is an illustrative example of the mutual impact of the relationships at the workplace and in a family.

Summary of the Movie

The movie starts with Dan Foreman (Quaid Dennis), an executive salesman at a major US sports magazine, Sports America, learning that his company is about to sold to Globecom. At the same time, Dan sees pregnancy kits and suspects her daughter Alex is pregnant. He later realizes that it is his wife that is expecting. The acquisition of the firm by Globecom creates havoc in the company and results in the firing of a majority of Dan’s longtime colleagues at the magazine. While Dan survives the onslaught, he is demoted and his place taken by a 26-year-old sharp Duryea Carter. The acquiring company works with the “synergy” creed that Carter protects enthusiastically. Carter goes home to see that his angry wife has packed and left him, and he later signs the divorce papers. At the office, a new fragile and complicated relationship begins between Dan and Carter, and outside, a romantic relationship ensues between Carter and Alex, Dan’s 18 years old daughter. Carter’s relationship with Dan sores when Dan realizes that Carter is seeing his daughter Alex, a confrontation results and Alex quits the relationship.

Later, the CEO of the mother company, Teddy K, visits to train employees on synergy and other Globecom’s corporate strategies. Dan asks an intelligent question that the CEO ignores,  provoking the wrath of the middle-tier manager, Mark Steckle, to request that Carter fires Dan. Carter turns down the request arguing that Dan bridges a gap between the company and a lucrative deal.

Then, company undergoes a significant shakeup that results in the selling of the company. During this period, Dan acquires back his executive position, and both Mark and Carter are laid off. Owing to the relationship that Dan and Carter had created, Dan offers Carter a job that he refuses. Dan’s wife later gives birth to a boy and invites Carter to the baby warming party.

Analysis of the Relationship Concept

The movie reinforces the belief that there is no particular succinct definition of the term relationship. So many relationships occur in the movies that are not only complex but dynamic and continually advancing (Mehrabian & Blum, 2003). It is vital to note the manner in which Dan and Carter build a relationship. Carter has a liking for Dan, because he particularly assures him that he has “the people you need,” referring to himself. While theory posits that the similarity thesis defines most relationships (Adler, Rosenfeld, Towne, & Scott, 2014), the relationship between Dan and Carter tends to be based more on the complementary dimensions of relationship building. Carter is sharp, young and inexperienced, while Dan is an astute career salesperson who is nearly twice Carter’s age. He is experienced both at work and in life, especially having two daughters (an 18-year-old waiting to join college and a 16-year-old) and later a son. As theory states, Dan helps Carter navigate through the many challenges at the company. For instances, when they are struggling to gain a deal just before the selling of the American Sports, it is Dan who does everything through experience. This example reinforces the assertion that differences strengthen relationships when they complement the weaknesses of the other parties in the relationship (Swami & Furnham, 2008). It also shows that competence is a factor in building relationships (Vangelisti, 2009). Research shows that individuals are likely to be attracted to people’s competence, especially when they include a warm personality (Swami, Hadji-Michael, & Furnham, 2008: Adler et al., 2014). Dan is welcoming, warm, and open to Carter, and he has shown a particular commitment to improving the fortunes of the company. Moreover, Carter believes in the experience of Dan and openly shows it when he seeks advice on marriage:

Carter Duryea: Dan, you seem to have the perfect marriage. How do you do it?

Dan Foreman: You just pick the right one to be in the foxhole with, and then when you’re outside of the foxhole you keep your dick in your pants (Weitz, 2004)

Since the relationship was built purely on differences, a relationship results from complimentary differences. The similarity thesis loses meaning and application. In essence, similarity and complementary differences cannot be simultaneously applied in building a relationship.

Carter’s relationship with his seven-month pregnant wife is particularly threatened and eventually ended due to a lack of reward. According to the exchange theory, a relationship thrives when the cost of maintaining the relationship is either equal or greater than the rewards received from the interaction (Adler et al., 2014; Floyd, 2015). The wife felt that while she sacrificed so much to be with Carter, he tends to love his Job more and do not spare time to be with her (the most important reward to her). To her, committing her life to Carter resulted in more emptiness to her than the fulfillment that Carter received. It also occurs when Dan confronts Carter and Alex over their relationship. Alex feels that her relationship with the father is far much a higher cost to pay for the reward of being with Carter. The two women’s comparison levels occasioned the breakups between Carter and his wife, and later with Alex.

The comparison level (CL) is the minimum behavior that a party to a relationship is willing to accept to ensure that the relations survive (Adler et al., 2014). Indeed, the CL often goes hand in hand with the comparison level of alternatives (CLA) which compares the rewards that the party to a relationship receives in the current relationship arrangement and what they expect to gain in others (Adler et al., 2014). If the current reward is lower than the expectations, and the behavior barely acceptable, the relationship will most likely fail.

The growth of the relationship between Alex and Carter is particularly a critical relationship. It embodies the role of physical appearance in starting relationships while similarly asserting what disclosure can do (Baker & Oswald, 2010). The relationship between the two mainly begins in the elevator where they meet and marvel at each other’s charm. It is evident that the physical appearance between the two created a rapport and a good impression that initiated what would be the most romantic relationship of the movie. Moreover, Carter’s declaration that while he was obtaining a job in the company, he was exceedingly fearful and even clueless about what he was going to do. Such an averment is severe, especially coming from such an astute young man who had been trusted with the management of a whole organization.

Additionally, the growth and eventual collapse of the romantic relationship between Alex genuinely exemplify the relational development stages. According to Knapp, Vangelisti, & Caughlin (2014), the “coming together and coming apart” of relationships takes ten steps, which also include the dimension of relational maintenance. The stages are initiation, experimentation, intensification stage, integration, bonding between two people, differentiation, circumscribing, stagnation, avoidance, and termination of the relationship (Adler et al., 2014). The initiation of the relationship occurs when the two meet in the elevator and start chatting. The two move to experimenting when they meet twice more and later start the intensification and bonding processes with regular meetings, including Carter’s visit to Alex’s campus room. The differentiation begins when Carter realizes that Alex is not serious about the relationship and is just having a good time. The interference of Dan with the development of this relationship, however, terminates it even without the circumscription and avoidance periods. However, Carter’s relationship with his wife is a complete exemplification of all the relational development stages.

From the shared examples, it can be deduced that the process of relationships development is not prescriptive, but guiding. Indeed, some relationships tend to stay longer or even stop at the bonding stage for a lifetime especially blood and marriage relationships. The relationship between Alex and her father Dan stays in the bonding stage for so long that even when Carter comes in to create a differentiation; Alex forfeits Carter in favor of the bonding between her and the father. Additionally, when a marriage relationship stagnates at the bonding stage, it becomes the envy of others like Carter admires Dan’s marital life.

It is crucial to finally note that it is the proximity of the characters of this movie that enabled the development of all these relationships. Proximity allows individuals to not only meet but understand the more in-depth aspects and alluring attributes of the other (Adler et al., 2014). There has, however, been a continual revision of the definition of proximity in the context of interpersonal relationships. While some insist on the traditional physical closeness (Adler et al., 2014), others include the technological closeness (access by phone, email, chat applications and social media) in the definition (Baker & Oswald, 2010). In the movie, the physical proximity as asserted by Adler et al. (2014) plays the role of starting all the relationships. For instance, a relationship begins between Dan and Carter when the latter is transferred to Dan’s company as a top manager. The relationship between Carter and Alex also start when they meet in the elevator and continues to grow because they can incessantly see and meet each other. This further implies that the proximity that begins a relationship is proximity that initiates interpersonal conversations: the people within proximity, whether physical or technological must communicate before a connection can occur.


In Good Company is an exciting movie that elucidates the intrigues into relationship theories. It wittily, although not innovatively, weaves a realistic picture of relationships both at work and at home in the contemporary career-obsessed capitalist world. The plot exemplifies how relationships are built as well as the development processes of relations ships. The exploration of this film in the context of relationships and connected theories give a deep insight into how movies may influence the comprehension of important theories and concepts in academia.

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