A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Now here is true evil: Cold, unblinking, reptilian. The character Chad in "In the Company of Men'' makes the terrorists of the summer thrillers look like boys throwing mud-pies. And for every Chad there is a Howard, a weaker man, ready to go along, lacking the courage to disagree and half intoxicated by the stronger will of the other man. People like this are not so uncommon. Look around you.
The movie takes place in the familiar habitats of the modern corporate male: Hotel corridors, airport "courtesy lounges,'' corporate cubicles. The men's room is an invaluable refuge for private conversations. We never find out what the corporation makes, but what does it matter? Modern business administration techniques have made the corporate environment so interchangeable that an executive from Pepsi, say, can transfer seamlessly to Apple and apply the same "management philosophy'' without missing a beat.
Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) have been assigned for six weeks to a regional office of their company. Waiting for their flight, they talk. Chad is unhappy and angry because he's been dumped by his girlfriend ("The whole fade-out thing''). He proposes a plan: "Say we were to find some girl vulnerable as hell ... '' In their new location, they'll select a young woman who doesn't look like she has much of a social life. They'll both shower her with attention--flowers, dinner dates--until she's dizzy, and then, "out comes the rug, both of us dropping her!'' Chad explains this plan with the blinkered, formal language of a man whose recreational reading consists of best-selling primers on excellence and wealth. "Life is for the taking--is it not?'' he asks. And, "Is that not ideal? To restore a little dignity to our lives?'' He hammers his plan home in the airport men's room, while Howard, invisible behind a cubicle door, says he guesses he agrees.
The "girl'' they choose for their target turns out to be deaf--a bonus. Her name is Christine (Stacy Edwards). She is pleasant, pretty, articulate; it is easy to understand everything she says, but Chad is cruel as he describes her to Howard: "She's got one of those voices like Flipper. You should hear her going at it, working to put the simplest sounds together.'' Howard makes a specialty of verbal brutality. Christine is not overwhelmed to be dating two men at once, but she finds it pleasant, and eventually she begins to really like Chad.