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How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

Richard E. Grant , Rachel Ward , Bruce Robinson  |  R |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward
  • Directors: Bruce Robinson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
  • DVD Release Date: January 11, 2011
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0046ZYEVG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,385 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "How to Get Ahead in Advertising" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Editorial Reviews

    Slick and cynical ad man Dennis Bagley can sell shampoo to a bald man, but mounting pressures at work begin to push him over the edge. Teetering hilariously between a nervous breakdown and a bizarre metamorphosis involving an evil twin, can Dennis save himself before it’s too late? From the director of the cult classic Withnail and I comes this outrageous and unpredictable comedy starring Richard E. Grant (L.A. Story) and Rachel Ward (The Thorn Birds) that proves two heads are funnier than one.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Satirical, Brilliant, and Fun! May 7, 2000
    Format:VHS Tape
    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!
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    9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely fun, with the emphasis on insane August 21, 2001
    Format:DVD
    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.
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    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Darkly Hilarious English Comedy! March 22, 1999
    By A Customer
    Format:VHS Tape
    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!
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    7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars one of the funniest films ever made June 12, 2006
    Format:DVD
    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.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    3.0 out of 5 stars advertising
    great start, the ending didn't make sense. It didn,t seem that there was a plot. lots of speeches but no suubstance
    Published 14 months ago by Bob
    5.0 out of 5 stars Classic!
    I watched this when I was a kid and it blew my mind. Watching again this time with my Mom was a real fun time! Read more
    Published 16 months ago by SFLovely
    3.0 out of 5 stars It has it's moments.
    Was not good enough to hold my attention for the duration of the film. But it does have it's moments of brilliance and comedy.
    Published 16 months ago by La Croix
    5.0 out of 5 stars How to get ahead in advertising...
    I remember watching this movie back in the day. It made a big impact on my humor. I watched it again the other day and the scene where the main character meets his antagonist was... Read more
    Published 17 months ago by P. OLEARY
    3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
    While it had its funny moments, How to Get Ahead in Advertising overall was a bit half-assed and simply not that funny.
    Published 17 months ago by Michelle
    5.0 out of 5 stars one of my all time favorites
    I always recommend this movie to anyone considering any sort of a career in advertising or graphic arts. Spot on.
    Published 18 months ago by David Cantrell
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST movies ever...
    Love this movie. One of the funniest movies I have ever seen. To this day a favorite. Richard E. Grant is amazing!
    Published 19 months ago by DouglasJH
    5.0 out of 5 stars Still a hilarious movie, great to finally have it on DVD.
    I first saw this movie close to 20 years ago and I've been quoting it ever since. It's nice to finally have it on DVD so it's not gone forever...
    Published 19 months ago by L. Silverstein
    5.0 out of 5 stars Movie was over the top funny
    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. Read more
    Published 22 months ago by Johnny Pasta
    5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous construction.... Insane.
    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... Read more
    Published on March 16, 2012 by John Willoughby
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