Dennis Dimbleby Bagley is a brilliant young advertising executive who cant come up with a slogan to sell a revolutionary new pimple cream. His obsessive worrying affects not only his relationship with his wife, his friends and his boss, but also his own body - graphically demonstrated when he grows a large stress-related boil on his shoulder. But when the boil grows eyes and a mouth and starts talking, Bagley really begins to think hes lost his mind. But has he?
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This is film is definitely a black comedy, which some may find ratherbizarre. It isbased on an allegory: Our conscience. Richard E. Grant was fab!! Hisworkinthis film, is not to be missed. The entire cast was fantastik, includingthebeautiful and talented Rachel Ward, Jacqueline Tong, Pauline Melville & Ibelieve that was Susan Woolridge! They were all sublime!Initially you may feel that the acting is a bit forced, or quirky, butit'ssupposed tobe. If you don't understand it, don't give up, try to listen between thelines. Themessage relates to the advertising world & the media, which in turn, trytocontrol the minds of the consumer. It's the advertisers who pay the adagencies,media & newspapers to advertise. What's scary is that there areindividualswho believe just about everything they see, read, or hear. Why? I don'tknow.Maybe you'll get it after seeing the film & start listening toyourselves.We lovedit!
This film is literally about "How to Get A HEAD in Advertising." Once avigorous advertising agent in his field, able to sell anything to anyone,Denis Dimbleby Bagley (Richard E. Grant) has suddenly found himself workinghimself to death trying to come up with a sales pitch for pimple cream. Hisobsession with trying to conquer those bloody boils suddenly leads to anunexpected epiphany in which Denis, sick of how everything has become sorelentlessly commercialized and every single value of life turned into amoney making venture, decides to give up the advertising trade and wage awar on the commercialization of life. But, if there's one thing arevolutionary cannot do freely, it's stand in the way of profiteering.Denis faces a nemises, the one who wants him to keep on ruthlessly selling(and lying) to the world and stomp out the idealistic and possibly costlyambitions of the born again Denis Bagely. But it is no ordinary nemesis. Itis a boil that grows on the his neck, an alter-ego that grew out of Denis'sinability to sell everything (i.e. the pimple cream) and his newfound waragainst advertising. This boil comes to gain it's own personality, it's ownvoice, and even it's own appearance (it looks exactly like Denis). Everyonethinks that Denis is insane with his talks of a muttering boil on his neckwhich he engages in conversation with. The boil starts to grow a life ofit's own, and even a head of it's own, seeking to stifle Denis before hisepiphanies are carried to far, and people start thinking for themselves andso forth.It is certainly an off-the-wall dark comedy, but an absolutely hilarious onewith a valid point about the incessant commercialization about nearly everyaspect of life, and one person who recognizes what a load of bullocks it isand tries to rid himself of it as much as he can. The ending makes for acool finale as boil head Denis is yapping like a proud general riding hishorse around unconquered territory about the possibility of amassing theearth and selling the world bit like bit. He ideas so dangerous, yet he isunstoppable and out of control. It is one hilarious movie and certainly aninventive story.
Richard E. Grant as Bagley brings to the film both his best and most outrageous performance. As the slick advertising salesman, Bagley is the cold-hearted business man who would see his own mother lose all her teeth if he thought it would sell more denture cream. The brilliant opening scene has him announcing that we want to sell them 30% less [of fat] and 20% more [of nutrition]; they are selling an image and idea, not a product! Bagley begins to second guess his profession and when the idea of having to come up with a boil cream begins to make his conscience ill, he opts to quit in pursuit of higher ideals.It is then, that the supernatural takes over, and Bagley gets a boil on his neck that he believes has begun to turn into a face, causing him to go utterly insane to the horror of his wife who sees nothing but the boil. The insanity multiplies and the boil becomes Bagley's evil advertising alter-ego, and the insanity delves into the depths of all that is great in British black humour.The boil-alter-ego finally takes over the reformed Bagley identity, and Bagley becomes much worse than he'd ever been.The script is poignant, if not a little bit preachy on the evils of advertising. But Richard E. Grant gives his heart and soul to make the character fully dimensional and incredibly funny. His insanity is put in perfect perspective by his wife, played sublimely by Rachel Ward, who is as supportive and understanding as she can to a husband who seems to have gone over the brink.For the originality, commentary, wittiness, acting, quotable dialogue, and pure insanity, this has been one of my favourite movies ever. It's no Citizen Kane (do people really like that movie, anyway! ), but it is without a doubt a must-see, just for the experience!
I imagine the handful of other people who have watched this film werelargely, like myself, drawn to it by the desire for something -anything - that could possibly be as good as Withnail and I.This is BETTER.The premise is quite simple. Richard. E Grant plays a disenchanted,unenchanting advertiser, who is not only struggling with his sociallife, but also with his latest pitch - a new cream to cure boils. Afterspending a weekend frying his brain over it, he has an epiphany (or abreakdown) and decides that he has finished with advertisement. Heshows this by removing every object 'corrupted,' by the industry.Chickens are thawed in the toilet, and televisions drowned in the bath.If any other writer worked with this plot, the film would be much lessinteresting. We would see the protagonist discovering what reallymatters. Love. Giving money to the poor. He would decide to go back toadvertising - but this time, with integrity. The last scene would havehim doing an advertisement for a charity, before stepping into theloving arms of his wife, Julia.Of course, it's not any other writer. It's Bruce Robinson. This meansinsanity. This means genius. This means...talking boils? Yes, that'sright. A talking boil. This character - played by Bruce Robinson -hangs about on Richard. E Grant's neck, slowly destroying his life. Noone else could lend so tragic an edge to this farcical comedy. RichardE Grant does another effortlessly beautiful turn as the supplantedhusband, forced into submission by the malignant pustule controllinghis life.I won't spoil the ending for you - but you must see this film. LikeWithnail and I, it only has a couple of large characters. The settingis small and the plot strange. Not an awful lot happens, but you willfeel every beautiful insult or idiom sinking into your brain, ready tobe used on the next person who cheeses you off.
This is really a pretty darn good movie until the ending. 7.0/10.0 I guessI was supposed to listen at the end and be fascinated by the dialogue. Ireally would have rather seen the two talking heads grow to the same sizeand be convicted of some crime and be the first double hanging for oneperson. Or one head could have bit the other in the throat thus causingmurder and suicide at the same time. A nice satire but all the same, giveme an ending I can sink my teeth into. Would have been nice to seeninvasion of the boils from outerspace or a boil on his wife so they couldall live happily ever after. Pretty off the wall humor but the ending wasjust too abrupt and unresolved.
This movie is a riot. Richard E Grant gives an amazingly intense performance. His entire role seems to consist of nothing but brilliantly scabrous monologues. His acerbic take on everything around him starts at a fever pitch and then giddily topples over into outright inspired lunacy. See this film if for no other reason than to get a glimpse of him naked save for a kitchen apron, gleefully stuffing raw chickens down the toilet drain and all the while explaining, " Everything I do makes sense, everything i do has a reason!"I prefer this style of over the top attack much more than the drier and more subtle (!) mode employed by both writer-director Bruce Robinson and Richard E. Grant in their first collaboration, WITHNAIL & I.The heights of comic outlandishness achieved in HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING is something that is rarely achieved by any film and it is doubly commendable that everything done here ( no matter how tastelessly crazy) still never stoops to the childishly vulgar levels that most American comedies regularly splash about in like mental asylum inmates happily playing with their own feces. Yes, despite everything this film attempts ( and achieves) it still retains a sense of sophistication that shows what thuddingly awful garbage ( i am looking directly at you AUSTIN POWERS, SCARY MOVIE, etc, etc) is usually regarded as the height of comedy. This film knocks them all dead.
***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***How To Get Ahead In Advertising is a film about a man and his preoccupationwith boils. Doesn't sound like your cup of tea, eh? Well, if you're a fanof dark comedy, this twisted British satire is a riot! I was a littlehesitant because the title of this film seemed like some sort of bore, trustme though, you will be in stitches! I would certainly like to see some ofthe directors other works, especially Withnail & I. Too bad the CriterionCollection DVD is out of print, for I would certainly have it among mycollection. Great dual performance from the lead actor Richard E. Grant. Igive this a 7/10, and recommend it for anyone who enjoys outlandishcomedies.
Just to illustrate Black_Rider's depth of critical thought (or lackthereof), I'd like to point out that there are more trees in the U.S.now than there were in colonial times because the country is about 10times as large now (thanks to native genocide and the unprovokedinvasion of Mexico, among other things). That's one essential point ofHow to Get Ahead in Advertising: capitalism isn't about products, it'sabout selling. The drive for profit favors high-risk, short-termoriented business strategies. Businesses can't afford to think in thelong term, or a more irresponsible competitor will undercut them.Businesses centered around rapidly shrinking natural resources such asthe paper, lumber, fishing and oil industries are going to keep sellingtheir products as fast as they can until they become so rare (i.e.depleted) that there's no longer a market for them. Then they'll eithergo belly up or move on to a more profitable market. But the market on awhole is unconcerned with matters like preserving enough forests toallow us to keep breathing, its only directive is to continue theexponential acceleration of its growth. As the movie points out, thisever-increasing growth of industry has to be supported by increasedconsumption, which means the all-pervasive coercion of advertisingdoing its damnedest to convince us we need things we don't to solveproblems we didn't know we had. This movie is a favorite, both for the pure entertainment of acaptivating fantasy and the razor-sharp screeds against commodityculture. It's not simple-minded leftist sloganeering; although it'sclearly hyperbolic, the underlying critique is, in my opinion, quitesophisticated. Although I love Withnail and I, I'd have to say I getmore out of this film.
This movie will blow your mind. It is a semi-sequal to "Withnail and I," which also featured Richard E. Grant doing non-stop, over the top, mile a minute acting. This movie has, in my opinion, the best acting performance of all time. Richard E. Grant plays a snide executive, then that character gone completely nuts, then a nervous wreck, and then the dark side of that character all in the same movie. Utterly bizarre and hilarious.
Hilarious, bitter satire of adverising, humanity, and personality. Ad execDennis Bagley gets so hung up on boils developing a "boilbusters" adcampaign that he grows a malignant boil which takes on its own personalityand eventually takes over the show. Grant is perfect in the lead role, thedirection and photography are excellent, and the effects cheap butgrotesque. There are so many hilarious scenes, I found myself laughing outloud through most of the film even though I saw it by myself! I love thescene where Bagley explains to his wife why the boil only talks to her whenshe turns away : "He's waiting for you to do it!" A classic, should besought out by all fans of sadistic humour(especially British, i.e. League ofGentlemen, Monty Python) .
Its a movie about a talking boil....what more do you need to know?
This review is from: How to Get Ahead In Advertising (DVD) A comedy of morals set in the world of advertising.Despite being fully aware that it's a send-up, the naked truth of some of the dialogue helped blow away the last shards of advertising credibility for me."Let me try and clarify some of this for you.Best company supermarkets are not interested in selling wholesome foods. They are not worried about the Nation's health. What is concerning them is that the nation appears to be getting worried about it's health. That is what is worrying Bestco, because Bestco want to carry on selling them what it always has, i.e. white bread, baked beans, canned foods, and that supperating, grease-squirting heart attack traditionally known as 'the British sausage.So... How can we help them with that?Clearly we are looking for a label' . We need a label that is brimming with health - and everything from the 'Nosh-Pot' to white bread will wear it with pride...."The construction of the Movie is the thing that always impresses me, the way it totally makes sense within it's own twisted logic. If here's one criticism I have then it's the limited scope: there's not really anything that doesn't relate to the main plot. Some viewers might also be looking for an external conflict, an exciting conclusion, when really this is a story about metamorphosis.Reservations stated, it's still so original that it deserves all the the glowing plaudits it gets.p.s. What are some of the * and ** reviewers looking for? A Mercedes Benz being blown up? A gunfight? Some comedy pratfalls at a golf club? A love story? The beauty of this piece is that it doesn't fit into any satirizable genre.and whoever posted - "John Cleese plays dual roles" - thank you (whispered aside) I don't know what you were watching, but he's not actually in the movie....
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film. "How to Get Ahead in Advertising" in one of the most original comedies I have seen. The humor ranges from the shocking, to the surrealistic, to slapstick. The film is about Dennis Bagley, an advertising agent trying to come up with a slogan for a skin ointment that removes boils. He is so stressed from time pressure that he grows a boil on his right shoulder. Then one day when he is asleep two talking cartoon birds fly put of his chimney and into his TV set. This marks when fantasy becomes reality. The boil begins growing a face and begins talking! Things get realy bad after this but I do not want to ruin the surprise. The acting in this film is better and is well-rehearsed. The film does have much strong language earning it an R rating. Watch the movie yourself before deciding to let your teenage children watch it. The only special feature on the DVD is a theatrical trailer. It is currently out of print and ususally sells for more than twice it's original retail price. The DVD was taken out of print more recently so more copies were made of this release than other out of print Criterion DVD's. Bootlegs of this are more rare and the film has been re-released on a non-criterion edition by MGM home video.
Imagine a world where corporations pay lots of money to men who in turn advertise their products by deceiving and manipulating people. In the city where I live alongside every major street or highway are so many billboards they crowd out the sky. Privately owned television stations run almost as many ads as they do programming, and even then the programming is often just another form of advertisement. History, art, and genuine cultural expressions are appropriated to sell products or "entertainment", i.e. profit-based fun. Game shows promote and exploit greed. People are turned into consumers. Culture(or lack of it) is manufactured, identities can be bought in malls, and ideologies become bumper stickers. Anything meaningful is transformed into an accessory with a price tag, and if it can't be sold is discarded. This movie is not a fairy tale that will make you feel secure, and it doesn't come with a happy ending to comfort you. Instead it strips that fantasy of it's glossy image and tells you that reality is not a commodity to be owned, it tells you that it's the way we interact with the world that makes us who we are, and that if it's just about keeping it all for yourself then it's a very shallow existence. It encourages us to examine the way in which a profit-based economy and consumerist mindset dictate the way we live, and how the freedom to choose between products is not the same as freedom. In doing so it gives you something much more meaningful that can't be made into a possession, and it does so in a way that is sincere, funny, and powerful. But it's not without hope, it makes clear that rejection of greed-driven philosophy can allow us to pursue a vision of a "better" world.
This review is from: How to Get Ahead In Advertising (DVD) Well first off if you don't care for dry British humor than this movie is not for you. The late Beatle George Harrison was one of the Executive Producers of this movie. I had not seen this movie in years and just had to have it on DVD. I had forgotten actually just how funny it was. This movie is totally off the wall in a manner of speaking here. And expect the unexpected at all times when viewing. Would I recommend this movie to the masses? Probably not because like I said here if you do not like dry British humor this movie is not for you. If you are a fan of the late Benny Hill or Monty Python than you will like this for sure. For me, I give it 5 stars across the board.
Like an intensive dinner-party guest, this film will keep youuncomfortably entertained. Don't worry about making conversation orserving it crepes, because Bruce Robinson has produced a beast thatlives inside big brother, but sounds and looks like a siren sister.Richard E Grant is imperious as the sociopathic marketing executive,Dennis Bagley, charged with the challenge of selling pimple cream.Knowing that to sell a product that eliminated pimples would alsoeradicate the need to sell the product, he is stuck in a horrificmental block. Super-articulate, domineering and ingenious, Dennis is,in the words of his wife, 'an incarnation of evil with a briefcase.'With that assessment firmly in mind, let me ask you a question. Howlong can you hear Bagley's diatribes against consumer culture and humanfolly before you are attracted to him? If you breathe air, marketingworks on you. Because is there not something proactive and self-awareabout Dennis? Really? So don't you think you're influenced by theopinion of others? No chance of being hypnotised or attracted tosparkly ideas? Sure you aren't just a hybrid mass of other people?Maybe, then, you're a social retard or a sociopath. Which head looksuglier, I ask you? I know which one I'd rather invite to a dinnerparty.
Its a brave, scathingly funny film that might be an acquired taste. Thisonedefinitely needs a memorable quotes section!! For a film made so long ago,its quite an accurate and eerie depiction of what the PR industry hasmutated into...
Well Bruce Robinson has done it again. After engaging us with classic 'Withnail and I' he has produced a prophetic film that says more about the way we live and those that cynically take advantage of the consumerist treadmill than 'Fight Club'. The passionate dialogues in the screenplay give an insight into Robinson himself and his view of where the global society is headed.The performance of Grant as Bagnel, the schizophrenic advertising executive, is a masterpiece. Rachel Ward's performance is a little wooden but the rest of the cast are able to carry her along with them convincingly enough.Let me warn you. Don't watch this if you're not prepared for it to make a lasting and life changing impact on your psyche. You'll never view an advertisement the same after seeing this picture. You may even find yourself with your head in a cardboard box making a video on global warming and carbon sinks -just like Bagnel. Get the local school to do a amateur production or even a rock eisteddfod on 'How to Get Ahead..'.Considering this was made in 1989 the messages are brilliantly insightful and more relevant given recent global events. A modern classic.
I saw this movie years ago, and since then have probably rented it 5 or 6 times to share it with friends. I love this movie. It has that crazy British humour which is very unexpected, and shocking. I love dark, funny, bizarre stories. If you like any of that, you should like this one too. I've finally decided to buy this one, to save myself from renting it again and again.
I found How to Get a Head in Advertising, very original and funny. It wasn't as great as Withnail and I, but not far off. If you're a fan of Richard E Grant or Withnail and I, then I would strongly recommend this movie. If not you're not a fan of the two then it may not be your cup of tea.