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A Shock to the System (1990)

Michael Caine , Elizabeth McGovern , Jan Egleson  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Caine, Elizabeth McGovern, Peter Riegert, Swoosie Kurtz, Will Patton
  • Directors: Jan Egleson
  • Writers: Andrew Klavan, Simon Brett
  • Producers: Alice Arlen, Leslie Morgan, Patrick McCormick
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Widescreen, NTSC, THX
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Millennium
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001US85S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,133 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Shock to the System" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This DVD feature film stars Michael Caine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Punchy stinging black comedy of the workplace May 23, 2004
Here's where Michael Caine shines, as a corporate exec who gets passed over for the promotion he's so feverishly expecting he'll get in favor of a young Turk--well played by Peter Reigert--who lords it over Caine's character in subtle (and not so subtle) ways. Caine's wife, also well played by Swoosie Kurtz, one of the great unknown American stage and film actresses, is a serious [problem] to him. So he has two people in his life who are supremely annoying.
What does he do? Well, let's just say that his solution to these two problems ends in the population of the world changing, shall we?
The dialogue in this very smart blackly comic thriller is sharp as a razor; it's a lot of fun to watch Mr. Caine give us his best as a put upon exec who's more than capable of flying into a rage at the drop of a hat and of executing his very sneaky and well thought out plans for revenge. Also on hand is Elizabeth Perkins, an equally intelligent office colleague who attracts Caine in more ways than one, but does not suspect him of any wrongdoing at all. That is, until...
One of the best office comedies around, A Shock to the System is a stinging portrait of greed and selfishness in America--for my money, far better than the somewhat overblown Wall Street. This is a movie that gives you a great evening's entertainment and part of the reason for that may be to secretly exact vengeance upon those corporate bigwigs who've prevented you from getting a job for so long, given this miserable economy.
Great job. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Man Goes Mad June 30, 2013
'Shock To The System' is a film that might make many people's wishes come true. Wishes that they could never in their right minds fulfill. A middle aged man has given his life to his job, to his marriage and, he finds himself in a messy mess. His reward for all this work is to find himself looked over in a promotion, and a wife who won't forgive him for not receiving that promotion.

Michael Caine plays Graham Marshall , the man awaiting that promotion. His wife, played by Swoozie Kurts celebrates his anxiously awaited promotion. Frustrated that his hated life will never change, he devises a plan to take revenge on everyone who humiliated him, and he starts with his wife. The film has several actors who will surprise you because they are so young!

Michael Caine is a genius in this type of film. It is not a nice film, per se. Elizabeth McGovern plays a colleague, young, lithe and adoring. It takes awhile for her to realize what a new life with Graham would be all about. This is a film that keeps you off balance, I was never sure which way the wind would blow, so to speak. Will Patton, ( you will recognize him, right away), plays a Connecticut State Policemen. Always prepared, ever sympathetic, but he has a mind that thinks like a criminal. Why he is the only State Policeman in the state to conduct murder investigations is never explained, but he must be one heck of a busy man!

This film will bring laughs, some 'uh, huh's', and some indecision. I liked it, Michael Caine is a terrific actor, and he brings his best to this film.

Recommended. prisrob 06-30-13
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant satire with the great Michael Caine April 24, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Humorous story of basically decent corporate executive who accidentally kills someone, is not caught, then decides to resolve personal and occupational difficulties by committing murders.
A great performance by Michael Caine, well-crafted script, and capable direction.
Made during the era of "downsizing" and "re-engineering" of corporations in the 1980's, "A Shock to the System" demonstrates the road to success in an age of cut-throat capitalism which regards employees as objects to be used, discarded, and destroyed, is to become a destroyer of persons. The latter is considered a crime, while the former is considered "adding values for the stockholders." Caine's character's rise on the corporate ladder is directly related to his willingness to regard objects to be elliminated rather than as human beings.
Typical of the film's polished style is the title, which refers to a home wiring accident which briefly injures Caine's character, Caine's pass-over for promotion and humiliation, and also Caine's recipe for personal success - administering shock to the corporation's "system."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Michael Caine Triumph November 2, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If any movie exemplifies the pitfalls of the upwardly mobile 1990's, it this movie here, A Shock to the System. It glorifies, yet vilifies, the face of corporate mobility, the infighting, the shifting loyalties, the costs and what it really takes to make it to the top.

There are undeniable elements of dark humor in this movie. The other reviews are testament to this part of the movie. There is however more social commentary present. Corporate attitude and disparity in the social classes are plainly set out and exhibited. This can be seen in the many portions of the movie where Caine the corporate warrior walks past homeless people camped in the streets of New York. The superficial camaraderie and brutal, smiling infighting of corporate life has rarely been better captured on film.

The movie features the music of Gary Chang played by the Turtle Island Quartet, which adds to the bittersweet atmosphere of this film.

The topping of this movie is the acting of Michael Caine. Caine brilliantly portrays a corporate officer who has been turned down to a promotion. Through machinations and scheming, he covets the higher position and eliminates everyone in his way. His acting in this movie is a gem in a long and stellar career.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars low-key performance as an intelligent executive who has been treated...
Ironic, Amusing and Well Done!
For all of us who have been laid off, fired, or missed a promotion, this movie will be a dark pleasure. Read more
Published 1 month ago by TwilightMountainTrader
1.0 out of 5 stars love michael caine hated this movie
aah, love michael caine hated this movie.. watched it and pitched afterwards
Published 3 months ago by William Golston
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Happy with this DVD, prompt service.
Published 3 months ago by David Alan Moody
5.0 out of 5 stars Very dark humor.... not for anyone ...
Very dark humor ....not for anyone looking for light comedy. Michael Caine is superb.
Published 3 months ago by Pearl's Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
this is an off beat movie that i liked, it is not on TV any time recently but is one i wanted it came when expected and was in good shape
Published 6 months ago by GLENDA DROLLSBAUGH
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for mom.
My mother loves this movie and it was in great shape when it arrived! It works well and mom was very happy! :)
Published 8 months ago by Leann
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal fqavorite
I love this film and watch it every few years. it's a great black comedy with Michael Caine brilliant in it.
Published 12 months ago by Bill Zolan
5.0 out of 5 stars very funny movie
this movie is very funny if you like someone getting even for being passed over at work for promotions etc.....but you have enjoyed dark humor
Published 12 months ago by nels hansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Caine is at his best and shows how to get to the top with a...
The fine actor Michael Caine is at his best and shows how to get to the top of the heap by using a little "magic." GREAT MOVIE!
Published 17 months ago by Samuel H.
4.0 out of 5 stars Brits are as usual..
Nice British movie, with as usual, great work by Michael Caine. Made before the term "Going postal" have appear in the common language. Very good service.
Published 19 months ago by Al
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