Company Man (review): A CIA Secret Agent tries (and fails) to overthrow Castro in Cuba.

Grammar (and sometimes Spanish substitute) teacher Alan Quimp, played by Douglas McGrath, is so sick of being pushed to get a better job by his wife (Sigourney Weaver) and father-in-law that he comes up with the perfect lie: he is really an undercover CIA agent. When his father-in-law tells him that the only way he could be an agent would be if CIA stood for “Cowering Idiots Association” Quimp is encouraged. He makes such a good spy because nobody would believe he is one. Of course, he isn’t and his lie escalates until he finds himself helping a Russian ballerina, played by Ryan Phillippe, escape the KGB and defect from Soviet Russia. In order to take credit for it, the CIA recruits him and ships him off to a little place where nothing ever happens: Cuba.

Quimp Arrives In Cuba

Once there he meets his fellow agents; Officer Fry (Denis Leary), the Chief (Woody Allen), and the crazy Crocker Johnson (John Turturro). His first assignment is to find Agent X, an agent believed to be leaking information which has resulted in the deaths of undercover agents. In less than a day, Quimp succeeds. If it weren’t for the fact that he “doesn’t have the wits to be a single-agent” the company would be concerned about him being a double-agent. His other purpose in Cuba is to keep the Cubans happy. Agent Johnson believes that Cuba is on the verge of a revolution. Of course the Chief and Quimp agree that they seem happy and their custom of flaming piñatas (which read Batista and Viva la Revolucion on them) is cute. But Johnson is right. When the newly overthrown General Batista (Alan Cumming) arrives at his door, Quimp is thrown into a mad scheme to assassinate Fidel Castro (Anthony LaPaglia) before he fully takes control of Cuba to return power to Batista. To make matters worse, his controlling wife arrives to view his work firsthand so that she can write a book that will make her lose her faith in God if it “does not outsell the Bible”.

The Bay of Pigs

Quimp and his fellow agents embark on a series of ridiculous plans to kill Castro, including making him bald and thus unpopular, to offering him poisoned cigars. At the same time Quimp, as part of his cover, runs a radio station to convince people that they really are happy living in Cuba. Their efforts to unseat Castro and a misinterpreted set of songs Quimp plays set off a chain of events that result in the famous, failed mission that history would call The Bay of Pigs.

The Movie Company Man

Directed by Peter Askin and Douglas McGrath, this movie is a hilarious retelling of a historical event and how it could have happened. Although for the CIA’s sake, the viewer hopes it was fictional. It has a unique way of advancing the plot by beginning with Quimp and another CIA officer (Paul Guilfoyle) trying to explain to a Senator just how the Bay of Pigs disaster occurred. The movie cuts between Quimp’s flashbacks and the secret Senate meeting where he tries to plead his case. Despite coming out in the year 2000 and boasting a great cast, this movie got very little recognition. The vast majority of people who would love it have no idea it exists. The movie is full of great quotes and memorable moments as Agent Quimp bumbles through his new job while trying to make the world a better place using proper grammar and insisting on speaking butchered Spanish.

 

The acting is superb and the sets beautiful. The entire movie is filled with theatre style entrances and exits, making it seem almost like a play instead of a movie; an interesting change from usual movies. Anyone who enjoys secret agent movies, comedies, and a dash of history should hurry out and get this movie.