Writer/director Bruce Robinson's terrific 1988 comedy stars Brit Richard E. Grant ("Spice World" - I'm sure he's never pleased when that's mentioned) stars as advertising executive Bagley, who hardly ever has a problem coming up with the latest slogan to get products into the hands of consumers.
But, one day, he finds himself having to think up an advertising campaign for pimple cream, and he can't seem to find the exactly right way to go about advertising it - eventually, it sets him over the edge. The stress not only makes him leave his job and denounce the advertising industry, but causes a boil that actually talks back to him to appear on his shoulder, symbolic of the "emotional poisons" that have been going through his system all of these years.
The advertising industry is certainly ripe for parody, and I'm suprised that it's never been joked about in this fashion before. Still, the movie does reach a point where its message about the industry gets a little much. This is certainly helped though, by the terrific performance from Richard E. Grant. Believably nuts, Grant turns in a wonderfully energetic, sharp, mean-spirited performance that is superbly entertaining. Yes, the movie's subject is extremely weird, but the movie as a whole is very entertaining satire.
VIDEO: "How To Get Ahead In Advertising" is presented in a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic transfer supervised by director of photography Peter Hannan. This exclusive digital transfer was created from the 35mm internegative. That it is non presented in anamorphic widescreen is an unfortunate choice, but still, the film mostly looked clean and enjoyable.
Sharpness and detail were fair - the picture seemed slightly on the soft side for a good deal of the movie - although not quite to the point of "hazy" or "blurry", the picture appeared consistently lacking fine detail, especially in some of the dimly lit sequences.
Thankfully, besides the softness, I didn't notice much amatter with the presentation. There were a few stray print flaws, but the appearance of such wear was generally few and far between. Although some scenes looked lightly grainy, this didn't cause much of a distraction - and also, I didn't notice anything in the way of pixelation or edge enhancement.
Colors appeared fair - they seemed natural and pleasing, but not bright or bold in any way. Criterion has done a decent job with this presentation, but I question why it wasn't presented in anamorphic widescreen.
SOUND: "How To Get Ahead In Advertising" is presented in stereo, created from the original stereo magnetic tracks. There's little to the proceedings besides the music and the dialogue, although both sounded clear and natural.
MENUS:: The main menu is basic and non-animated, but I liked the TV-themed background.
Final Thoughts: "How To Get Ahead In Advertising" isn't without some flaws as it does go a little overboard in its crusaide against advertising, but Grant's performance is terrific. Criterion's DVD presentation does leave a bit to be desired, but still remains watchable. Recommended as at least a rental.