How to Get Ahead in Advertising
Director: Bruce Robinson
Year: 1989
TRT: 1:34

Reviewed: 7/28/04

The cynical advertising pitch-man is ruthless in his sales approach. Anything can be sold, all you have to do is create the market. And who better to sell to than the ignorant public, as they'll trust virtually anything they see on the tele. Right?

Dennis Bagley (Richard E. Grant) is a top advertising executive, successful in selling pretty much anything. But when trying to sell a "solution" for boils falls across his plate, he's utterly stumped. So much so, that he externalizes his frustrations with the product, his job, and life itself in the form of a quickly-growing boil on his neck. If that weren't bad enough, the damn thing starts to develop it own personality. No shit!

This is an unabashed bashing of modern consumerism from a marketing standpoint. Has some good points/truths to it, but while there are a few darkly humorous scenes, the movie forgets that it's trying to be funny. Or is it? What we're left with is a somewhat drab, barely interesting British satire telling us how evil the ploys of marketing really are. The only real saving grace is Grant in his disheveled/slick performance. And while his wife Julia (Rachel Ward) is pleasant enough, she's really not given the right material to work with. Too bad. I know there's plenty to draw from.

Great Scene: Full blown break-down as Bagley runs amok in the house testing all their household items wearing nothing but an apron (chickens be Damned!).

Media Notes: While a decent transfer put out under the Criterion Collection banner, quite disappointed to not see a lick of extras. Apparently they were so gung-ho on the anti-marketing concept that they refused to even market their own movie.


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