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How To Get Ahead in Advertising - Criterion Collection
How To Get Ahead in Advertising - Criterion Collection
Actors: Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward, Richard Wilson, Jacqueline Tong, John Shrapnel
Director: Bruce Robinson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
R     2001     1hr 34min

Richard E. Grant is the endlessly suave Dennis Bagley, a high-strung advertising executive whose shoulder sprouts an evil, talking boil. The boil speaks only to Bagley, is silent to the rest of the world, and seems to be g...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward, Richard Wilson, Jacqueline Tong, John Shrapnel
Director: Bruce Robinson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 07/10/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/1988
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1988
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 25
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Witty, Satirical, Brilliant, and Fun!
geminijef | 05/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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!"
One of the funniest films ever made
Raegan Butcher | Rain City, USA | 06/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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.

Insanely fun, with the emphasis on insane
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 08/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING is a wonderfully over-the-top piece of hilarious satire. The always entertaining Richard E. Grant plays a stressed-out advertising executive who finally snaps and begins arguing with a head that conveniently grows out of his shoulder. As this was written and directed by Bruce Robinson (the same man behind WITHNAIL & I) you can be sure that every line of dialogue sounds like obscene poetry and Grant delivers each of these with exactly the right amount of pure manic energy.The humor present here is very dark, and at times could be described as disturbing, so this may not be for everyone's tastes. Obviously, a comedy that centers around an ordinary man accidentally growing a second head isn't going to be something that's geared towards everyone's liking, but if you enjoy off-beat humour and outrageous satire, then this is probably something that will delight you. There's certainly a lot to recommend: the acting is wonderful, the direction is very assured and the writing sparkles. This is one of the few films in which it is almost impossible to predict what will be happening next. Sharply critical of advertising, capitalism, industry, commerce, and half a dozen other subjects, this is something that will make you think in the few moments when it isn't making you laugh.DVD notes: The film is presented in wide-screen. It looks great and sounds just as good. There isn't much of anything in the way of extras, though it does contain the original theatrical trailer."
Brilliant and Darkly Hilarious English Comedy!
Andrew McCaffrey | 03/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If dark comedy is your forte, do not miss this witty and outrageously funny offering from Hand Made Films! Richard E. Grant portrays Dennis Bagley, a brilliant young advertising executive whose downfall is caused by his latest glamorous account: pimple cream. He desperately needs a clever new ad campaign, but his mind is one big blank. Despite support from his lovely wife (Rachel Ward), Dennis cracks. His unblemished career is about to break out in chaos, just like the annoying pimple that has broken out on the side of his neck. To save his sanity, Dennis quits his job. But his neuroses, like his strange pimple, keep growing. Soon, what ensues is a hilarious chain of events that has the viewer wondering who's really in charge of Dennis' life! This movie is one of many by this-then relatively obscure English film company, that is as well made and it is well cast, as it is outrageously funny! Not to be missed by fans of dark comedy, this film is sure to find it's way into your private library. An excellent comedy, you can enjoy over and over again! Don't miss it!"