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September 12, 1989 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-12

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Tuesday, September. 12, 1989- The Michigan Daily - Page 5

ARTS

The Midhigan Daily

-Tuesday, September

12, 1989-

Page 5

Zit 's swell
Advertising boils with cynicism

BY NABEEL ZUBERI
How To Get Ahead in
Advertising is about a boil... a
bump, lump, oily node, carbuncle,
pimple, spot, zit... a festering pus
vessel that changes copywriting ge-
nius Dennis Dimbleby Bagley's life
forever. Bagley (Richard E. Grant) is
bead writer at a top agency in
London, but the stress of coming up
with a campaign for a new acne
cream proves too much, resulting in
the appearance of a serious protuber-
ance on his neck. This dermatologi-
cally troublesome turn of events of-
fers the opportunity for director Bruce
Robinson (Withnail & I) to present
us with an often hilarious diatribe
against advertising, television and
Thatcherism.
Grant is superb as the manic
copywriter with flailing limbs and
the carefully chosen obscenity. He's
like a younger, even more malevo-
lent Basil Fawlty, bossing around his
juniors and blissfully arrogant about
his advertising genius. Of course, all
this nastiness is what makes him
such a brilliant creator of campaigns,
for Bagley is completely cynical
about the marketplace and what he's
,selling his average consumer. The
movie is full of great capitalist
Thatcherite aphorisms that slip off
Bagley's acid tongue: "There's no
greater freedom than freedom of
choice," "The world is one great big
shop. I can sell anything!" In an
early scene in his plush executive of-
fice, he brainstorms for ideas, com-
ing up with voice-over ideas to sell
the product. Quite tellingly, all the
voices have slick American accents,
is,

whether they are secreting sincerity,
oozing sex, or bubbling with health
and vitality. The Americanization of
the British media is clearly one of1
Robinson's major axes to grind.
After the boil appears, however,
there's a crisis in confidence forJ
Bagley, and schizophrenia rears itsI
ugly (black)head - the nasty, bril-1
liant advertising genius wars with the
moral, decent chap in Bagley, the lat-
ter wanting to expose the lies, deceit
and greed that constitute the advertis-1
ing industry and British society inl
Thatcher's dystopia.
This is a world where hamburgersI
are going to cause World War III; the1
rainforests will disappear, and there<
will be a commodity crisis - theI
commodity being oxygen. The;
Brazilians will raise the price of the
commodity and we'll all go to war
for it. This is also a world where the
politicians sell us the bomb with the
ingredient of peace. In the present of.
tHow To Get Ahead in Advertising
the absurd quotes the vulgar (to cite
Lou Reed).
The tone of the movie goes in
swings and roundabouts from the ab-
surd to the farcical to the grotesque..
At points it's as stomach churning as
the green vomiting in The Exorcist.

However, there's many a belly laugh
along the way. These are inspired
mainly by the hyperkinetic Grant,
but also by the cast of fine character
actors. Richard Wilson is wonderful
as Bagley's cynical, but camp and ef-
fete boss. And as Bagley's wife,
Rachel Ward ably plays it straight
beside him.
The conclusion to the movie is
wonderfully over-the-top with Bagley
riding on his steed over fields and
hills in England's green and pleasant
land, with the majestic music of
"Jerusalem" swelling up in the back-
ground. He's hyped up, ranting to
himself and to nobody in particular
as he gets off his horse and runs over
the hilltop like Julie Andrews in The
Sound of Music. He's in aphoristic
overdrive like Nietzsche with a riding
crop. It's a visually stunning and
comically baroque wonder.
With its sharp verbal humor,
How To Get Ahead in Advertising is
a must for those who like their social
commentary and satire peppered with
loud comedy. The only thing is: you
must have a strong stomach. A pim-
ple will never look the same again.
HOW TO GET AHEAD IN
ADVERTISING is now showing at
Ann Arbor 1 & 2.

N

i
R
Y
}
7
t
k
9
#,
x
' .y .

C r ,

Riders in the Ark
Riders In The Sky, that upbeat trio of pseudo-cowboy crooners that camped out at the Ann Arbor Folk
Festival last year, have ridden back into town to play at the Ark tonight at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Legend has it that
one of these guys started the "Paul is dead" rumor right here at the Daily. And always remember, when times
get tough: It may not be the easy way, but it's the cowboy way.
Are you questioning your existence?
Still searching for the meaning of life?
Do you spend most of your time compiling facts about the life of
Victor Buono, the guy who played King Tut on the 1960's Batman
TV show?
End the meagerness-- now you can make a difference! (albeit minuscule.) Join the

MICHIGAENSL/N

&l

f

L'

f I

PASS
IT

AROUND

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Share the
news,
~ g

I-
CI)
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presents
GUYS
&
DOLLS
Sept 12 at 7:00 pm
' p IN 2105 MICHIGAN UNION
Accepting applications for

MUSKET

The University of Michigan's humor magazine.
We need writers, artists, photographers, and business people.
M ass M eeting: Sunday, September 17th at 2:00pm in the
GARGOYLE OFFICE
First floor of the Student Publications Building, 420 Maynard Street Grya
Or to speak to the editor individually, stop by the office on Weds. the 13th from 2pm to 4pm;
Thurs. the 14th from 4pm to 5:30pm; or Friday the 15th from 12pm to 2pm.

IT'S A GOING

t.

Welcome Students
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Dascola Stylists
Opposite Jacobson's 668-9329

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