Movie: "How To Get Ahead In Advertising"
Year: 1989
Rated: R
Genre: Comedy
Directed by: Bruce Robinson
Writing credits: Bruce Robinson

Reviewer: Max Burbank
Posted: 5/7/2008

Plot: A British advertising executive gets a boil on his neck that turns into a second head, which eventually gains control and turns the original head into a boil.

Review: Back in the late 80ís there was no actor on the planet who played an angry, out of control, intellectual Wildman better than the great Richard E. Grant. Dennis Leary would wither before the stream of vitriol pouring out of Grantís twitching, wiry body; Grant could have torn straight through Sam Kinison like an electric knife through meatloaf.

It didnít last long. I donít know if he was eating handfuls of speed or was just a master actor playing someone who had eaten mouthfuls of speed, but you just had to bow down before his gleeful, full on rage. It was magnificent.

By 1990ís Henry and June, the wind had gone pretty much from his sails, and heís made a career of playing wan, world weary survivors of bitter days gone by. Heís very good at looking like heís just got past the throwing up stage of going cold turkey.

ďHow to get aheadĒ is an actors delight. Grants transformation from an ad man sick of what he does to a monstrous parody of full throttle hucksterism is hilarious yet poignant. Rachel Ward is the perfect foil as Grantís sad, sympathetic wife, forced to witness this bizarre parable of self-destruction. Thereís a scene of her whispering in bed, whispering to the boil that was once her husband which is so sad and so funny at the same time, itís a magnificent acting moment, something she ought to be really, really proud of as an actress. Rachel, if youíre out there reading this, I want you to know, it was a wonderful turn and it makes me cry that this kind of moment goes utterly unnoticed in the world of cinema. You did the craft proud.

Grants final monologue as he storms across the English countryside is one of my favorite pieces of writing and I wonít spoil it for you by telling you anything about it. Find it, watch it and see for yourself.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Mr. everywhere
May 7th, 2008, 01:25 PM
wow i g2g see this FIRST!!!
May 7th, 2008, 02:30 PM
Honestly, where do you guys find these films at.
Reality bores me
May 7th, 2008, 03:26 PM
If you enjoy this then you should check out Withnail and I, another excellent film with Richard E. Grant in it.
May 7th, 2008, 03:52 PM
MeEff: Withnail and I is also written and directed by Bruce Robinson, and in many ways, a much better movie.

I used to love How to Get Ahead... when I was 14-15, but on rewatching it a few years ago, I was greatly disapointed. I found it too "in your face" with the symbolism and not subtle enough. Grant did a great job, but it left everyone else as two-bit players in his one man show. The talking boil aspect loses it's punch after you get used to it and the ending is predictable.
Forum Virgin
May 7th, 2008, 11:50 PM
My dad and I watched this together when I was 16- mostly all I remember is that the camerawork made me..queasy... but not in a "I've been watching Cloverfield on a rickety boat" sort of way....I remember being disgusted and entranced with the whole affair. My dad nearly died laughing.
May 8th, 2008, 12:01 AM
Time for those boils on my feet after several hours of intense training to become extra legs and give me more chances to improve the human race.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
May 8th, 2008, 10:46 PM
i always imagined the same thing if a pimple or boil or skintag just got big enough so as the natural head would turn into the such, but i never knew there was a film about it, sounds like dark humor to me, Ill put it on my to-watch list
frappez le cochon rouge
May 8th, 2008, 10:57 PM
It's a fairly famous film, actually.
By Hawkings Chair!
May 9th, 2008, 10:19 AM
I haven't seen this film in years!
Gonna have to look it out again.

Treated myself to a copy of Labyrinth last weekend. Loved every single second of it, well, almost every second, closed my eyes during gratuitous crotch shots.
Hensons creature effects are still magical. Honestly, after watching this CGI just looks cold and shitty. You just can't beat a well made rubber goblin.
age 8 1/2
May 12th, 2008, 02:38 AM
Youtube has some of the 'Posh Nosh' cookery show parodies Richard Grant made with Arabella Weir from 'The Fast Show'. That is some of his funniest work to date....
Zsa Zsa Azazel
May 23rd, 2008, 09:47 PM
He was underneath the covers with a flashlight. 'Scrutinising me!' Brilliant. Just brilliant.