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Movies Take On Recession Themes

It was only a matter of time before Hollywood would start tackling this recession head-on. Yes, escapist films do incredibly well in tough times — people are happy to forget their troubles in a cool theater. But people also want to feel like movies are relevant to these times. And here comes the most notable example: Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones are on board to star in "The Company Men" about the impact of layoffs.

With the studios pulling back on the number of films they make each year, perhaps it's no surprise the movie is independently financed. But there are big names behind the camera as well as in front of it. John Wells, an executive producer of "The West Wing" wrote and will direct. Ben Affleck has been attached to star in the film since the fall, and now that Costner and Jones are on board, production will begin next month.

The story sounds like it's riches to rags—I'm guessing it's about a rich jerk starts a blue collar job and becomes a good person. Affleck is a corporate exec who gets laid off; he loses his Porsche and gets a construction job from his brother-in-law, played by Kevin Costner. Jones is the exec at the company who Variety describes as "a principled man who struggles with the greedy actions of his partners."

There will certainly be *many* more movies that directly address the challenges of being downsized. The question is, with the amount of time it takes to produce a film from start to finish, will the economy be better by the time recession-related movies open in theaters? That's not a worry for this movie, which is slated to open in 2010, and could be ready to go early in the year. But here's hoping that the economy is in good enough shape by the end of 2010 that this kind of film will seem less relevant.