DIRECTED BY: Bruce Robinson
FEATURING: Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward, Richard Wilson
PLOT: A young hotshot ad exec begins to crack from stress when he has difficulty coming up with a campaign for pimple cream; compounding his problems, he grows a boil on his neck that gradually develops a face, and a nasty personality.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: The talking boil, the cracked Bagley tossing thawed chickens into the toilet wearing only an apron, and a few other weird surprises. What works against Advertising‘s weirdness is that the film’s bizarro bits are all part of a perfectly clear and rational satirical plan.
COMMENTS: Ad exec Dennis Bagley develops the mother of all zits in this blackheaded black comedy: does he need a dermatologist, or a psychologist? He’s up against a deadline to design an ad campaign for a pimple cream account, and he’s obstructed. “I can’t get a handle on boils,” he explains. “Compared to this, piles were a birthday present… so was dandruff!” Brilliantly portrayed by an acerbic and unhinged Richard E. Grant, Bagley is a man on the edge from the moment we meet him. He delivers an authoritative, amoral address to junior execs delighting in the dieting-reward-guilt dynamic that keeps women buying unwholesome food and stressing the importance of marketing to “she who fills her basket;” but in private, his advertiser’s block is driving him to knock back highballs in his office and nearly break down into quivering mass at lunch with his beautiful wife Julia (Ward). On a fateful train ride home for a weekend of fretting over the acne campaign, frazzled Bagley has an epiphany about the pervasiveness of the advertising/propaganda mentality while listening to strangers discuss a sensational newspaper account of a drug orgy, and launches into the first of many entertainingly deranged rants. By the next morning Bagley has gone completely off his rocker: he’s running around the house nude except for an apron, thawing frozen chickens in the bathtub and trying to rid the homestead of everything connected to advertising. But, to his distress, he’s also developed a rather nasty and surprisingly painful pimple on his neck, one Continue reading LIST CANDIDATE: HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING (1989)