How to Get Ahead in Advertising: Criterion Collection

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Dennis Bagley (Richard E. Grant) is a suave, powerful advertising worker, one who could sell anything to anyone, without fail. He has worked under extreme deadlines and impossible products, but he always manages to come through, and with a best selling campaign. But his latest assignment has been a tough one, as he can’t seem to crack the code for a great boil cream ad, no matter how hard he tries. After some time spent in vain on the project, he eventually begins to break down and soon, he has a total mental shutdown. He quits his high profile position, adopts a new lease on life, and goes into a total whirlwind, one that leads him totally out of control. He offends his guests, frustrates his wife, and upsets others, but in the middle of this madness, he learns he has a boil, for the first in his life. As he panics and stares at it in the mirror, it suddenly blinks an eye at him and from then on, his life will never be the same…

If you’re a fan of off the wall and outrageous comedies, then How to Get Ahead in Advertising is a movie you simply must view. This movie has wild moments, outlandish events, and hilarious physical antics, but never at the expense of intelligence. In other words, this is a smart comedy with a very wild streak, so don’t expect toilet humor with this one. Yes, some moments are utter nonsense, but it all fits together well and the film is so well written, it often boggles the mind. I often rewatch scenes over and again, just to soak in a subtle reference or piece of Richard E. Grant’s fantastic performance. Grant lights up the screen and turns in one of the true powerhouse performances of all time, very memorable and impressive indeed. One reason for Grant’s excellent turn is Bruce Robinson’s superb writing, which provides some of the wittiest and quotable dialogue ever, this is really classic stuff. This is one of top comedies of all time in my book and as such, I am giving this release my highest recommendation, don’t miss this one!!

Now this is how one does manic comedic acting, if you ask me. Richard E. Grant once again offers a clinic on sharp dialogue and outrageous physical antics, in one of the personal all time favorite performances. Just as he did in Withnail and I, Grant nails every line of this excellent material, but here he is under more pressure, as he has a load of physical action also. But he handles all the needs without a problem, never faltering in the least and in the end, this is one of the most memorable performances ever, hands down. He moves fast and talks even faster, but even if you can’t keep up, it is still wildly entertaining. You can also see Grant in such films as Withnail and I, The Little Vampire, Spice World, Hudson Hawk, Warlock, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The cast also includes Rachel Ward (Against All Odds, Sharky’s Machine), Richard Wilson (A Passage To India, Unnatural Pursuits), and Tony Slattery (The Crying Game, The Wedding Tackle).

Video: How does it look?

How to Get Ahead in Advertising is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I am very let down by the lack of anamorphic treatment, but in the end, this is still a welcome improvement over previous editions. The print looks clean and very sharp, which means the rest of the image is allowed to shine, which it does. The colors and contrast come through well enough, but it just doesn’t seem as sharp as it could have been, had the additional resolution of an anamorphic transfer were provided. Even so however, this is better than the other versions I’ve seen, so fans will want to pick it up, to see the best possible edition of the flick.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included stereo option was a much better track than expected, to be sure. This was never as thin as I had figured on, instead being quite robust, at least as far as stereo tracks are concerned, that is. The music sounds terrific and sound effects come through well also, much richer than most stereo tracks, by a long shot. But the real focus is the dialogue and since it is delivered in rapid fire style, the track needed to be dead on and thankfully, it is. Not even a single word is lost or diminished, very crisp and always at a proper volume. This disc also includes English subtitles, which are welcome, due to the fast pace and sometimes thick accents.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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