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The Secret of My Success

158 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Can a kid from Kansas come to New York to conquer the business world and maneuver his way from the mailroom to the boardroom in a matter of weeks? Michael J. Fox proves it can be done in this very funny lampoon of corporate business life. Fresh out of college, he’s determined to climb New York’s corporate ladder in record time by masquerading as an up-and-coming executive, even though he’s really the new mail boy. However, Fox’s plans begin to go awry when the boss’s wife falls in love with him and he falls in love with a junior executive, who also happens to be the boss’s mistress.

Derivative fluff from 1987, made tolerable by its bawdy exuberance and an appealing performance by Michael J. Fox, who was still enjoying TV stardom and the career momentum he earned by traveling Back to the Future. Here he plays a Kansas farm boy who dreams of scoring big in New York City, but reality turns out to be brutal to his ambition. When his uncle (Richard Jordan) gives him a mail-room job in the high-rise headquarters of a major corporation, Fox occupies an empty office and poses as a young executive, winning the attention of a lovely young colleague (Helen Slater) and having an affair with his boss's wife (Margaret Whitton). Sporadically amusing as a yuppie comedy and rather off-putting as a wannabe sex farce, the movie's still recommendable for its lively cast and a breezy style that almost succeeds in updating the conventions of vintage screwball comedy. Whitton is a standout performer here, so you may wonder why her comedic talent has been underrated, apart from a good role in the first two Major League movies. This may be little more than a big-screen sitcom, but it's not without its charms. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Michael J. Fox, Helen Slater, Richard Jordan, Margaret Whitton, John Pankow
    • Directors: Herbert Ross
    • Writers: Jim Cash, Jr. Jack Epps, AJ Carothers
    • Producers: Herbert Ross
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: October 27, 1998
    • Run Time: 111 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: 0783229364
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,679 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Secret of My Success" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By En Trance VINE VOICE on January 24, 2006
    Format: DVD
    1. A great lead actor: Michael J. Fox in the prime of his career, really drives this film, and makes it as enjoyable as it could possibly get. I doubt any other actor of the time could have pulled this one off. He plays someone trying to be the yuppie that Alex P. Keaton strived to be in the hit TV show Family Ties.

    2. Excellent supporting cast: Robert Jordan and Margaret Whitton as Fox's uncle and aunt by marriage; and a good sidekick: John Pankow (Ira in TV's Mad About You) as Fox's mailroom, lowest on the office totem pole counterpart, who played off Fox very well. I did find Helen Slater to be a little cold.

    3. Euro chic cinematography: With Carlo Di Palma (Blow-Up, The Appointment, Hannah & Her Sisters) on board, the look of this film was several notches above other similar films of the timeframe. Just look at some of the interesting shots in the film, including a scene where you see Robert Jordan in the mirror of a restaurant, while he's talking to Helen Slater with his back to the camera. Little stylish elements like this really make it an enjoyable rewatch in the present day.

    This one never went overboard with the sexual antics, and remained very innocent compared to the huge lot of other 80's R-rated romps. It was also a few years ahead of just about every other teen film of the day, and I mean it in the sense that everyone else was in High School, while here we have a young man's journey on a career path after college. This would also make it appealing to young adults who were otherwise too old for the John Hughes type movies.

    The DVD is definitely worth adding to your 80's film collection, especially considering it's low price. The extras are the trailer, cast bios, and some production notes.
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    14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2001
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    1987's 'The Secret of my Success' was looked at by producers and possibly Mike himself as just another way to keep himself busy and broaden his fame while in the 'Family Ties' era. But 'The Secret of My Success' exploded when Michael J. Fox's talent wasnt the sole shining star of the movie..providing a great supporting cast of huge actors like Maggie Whitton, who played Fox's sensuous aunt Vera. Michael J. Fox comes to New York from a small country farm where his parents live, to give a familiar story of determination to succeed in a city that still rings true: "If I Can Make It There....." Fox gets one foot in the door of a major corporation when his jerk uncle Howard Prescott decides to hire him in the mail room. The movie is perfect for Mike, whos' tremendous acting talent lends itself well to a young boy who works his way up the ladder of a multi-national corporation headed by a creep, and on the verge of overturning. I make it sound too dark though...the movie is non-stop laughs and an uplifting story that really does put a permanant smile on your face. Along with the greatest soundtrack Ive ever heard, which if youre buying this movie you HAVE to get the CD too, with all original songs and scores by performers like Pat Benatar, Night Ranger, David Foster, and Restless Heart. I can tell you right now if you've ever watched an episode of 'Family Ties', ever saw 'Back To the Future' 5 or 6 times in the last 4 years on tv or loved Fox's reign on 'Spin City'...this movie is perfect for you. A fast-paced, hilarious, energetic and cheerful movie that's great for the whole family. It deffinately gives us one of the many great things to remember about our friend.
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    19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dustin Dunaway on April 16, 2002
    Format: DVD
    I think a good test of how good or bad a movie is, is by how long it feels. Some 90 m. movies feel like three hours and vice versa. Secret of My Success feels like a half an hour. That's pretty good.
    Brantley moves from Kansas to NYC in order to make it in the corporate world. Problem: he gets laid off even before he starts. He's a trooper, though, and doesn't want to run home with his tail between his legs so he goes to his Uncle Howard for a job. It's not exactly what Brantley envisioned as he is stuck in the mailroom. Using corporate bureaucracy against itself, he manages to swing a job as a vice-president. It gets pretty funny from there as Brantley tries to maintain two identities without being found out. The elevator scenes are priceless!
    This movie is the definitive eighties comedy. Michael J. Fox gets to showcase his screwball comedy antics and the rest of the cast is equally fine. Helen Slater stands out as a female executive that manages to break through the glass ceiling only to be pressed up against it and fondled by the smarmy CEO. "Auntie Vera" is also a hoot as the sex-starved wife of Uncle Howard.
    The DVD doesn't offer too much in the way of extras, but that's okay because the movie alone is worth having on disc. Get this one right away.
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    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lonnie E. Holder HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 24, 2004
    Format: DVD
    I found it interesting that Roger Ebert disliked this movie. This movie is not artistic or well-acted. The situations are ludicrous and unlikely. However, this movie offers well-executed comedy that is highly entertaining.

    Michael J. Fox is Brantly Foster, a recent college graduate and the nephew of a business executive and his wife. Foster is intelligent and considers that perhaps Uncle Howard (Richard Jordan) might give him an opportunity in his company. A job in the mail room was not exactly the start that Foster had in mind.

    Foster realizes that in a corporation the size of his uncle's that it is easy to do things without anyone realizing what is happening. So Foster sets himself up as newly hired executive Carlton Whitfield. Most of the executives accept Whitfield for what he seems to be. Foster's only significant problems are keeping Uncle Howard from finding out that he is also Carlton Whitfield and keeping his mail room boss from learning that he is not always delivering mail when he should be.

    Foster/Whitfield soon encounters beautiful Christy Wills (Helen Slater), a young and highly intelligent executive, with whom he soon falls in love. Just as quickly he also encounters Aunt Vera (Margaret Whitton) and has more than one amorous encounter, before and after finding out she is his aunt by marriage.

    With Foster impersonating an executive while working in the mail room, courting Christy, who, unbeknownst to him, is also involved with Uncle Howard, and avoiding Aunt Vera as much as possible, the comedic potential is high, and the movie delivers. Much of the comedy is borderline slapstick, but much of it is also situational.
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