25 May 2004 | vertigo_14
The Corporate 80s Genre
I assume it was the proliferation of Yuppies and the Me,Me,Me Age that was responsible for the numerous 80s movies about the cutthroat corporate life. 'Baby Boom' and 'Working Girl' are other titles that come to mind.
The Secret of My Success is a charming movie, though sometimes not a very funny one. As one viewer wrote, it is likely Michael J. Fox's innocent good-natured character that drives what might otherwise be only a mildly amusing movie. Margaret Whitton and John Pankow (had he not said 'suits' so many damn times) are pleasing secondary characters as well, and a much needed counterbalance to the obnoxious characters that Helen Slater and Richard Jordan portray.
Brantley Foster (Fox), fresh off the Kansas farm, learns the harsh reality of a business graduate's life when he travels to New York expecting to become the next CEO of some company. Nevermind find a job, he can't even seem to get past the interview stage, with one rejection after another. And these are some of the funniest lines in the films. Especially, when Brantley asks his interviewer how he can get hard-nosed business experience if no one will hire him. "If we hired you to get experience, you'd take that experience and get a better job. If you'd joined our training program right out of high school, you would've had a job today." Brantley asks, curiously, "Why did I go to college." The interviewer laughs, "You had fun, didn't you?"
Brantley decides to dial up some unknown uncle Howard, hoping to get a job with his company in his last resort. And his first impression work, landing him a job in the mailroom. But Brantely has his sights on bigger, better things, and uses his newfound position to establish his plan. That is, he is going to be the new great employee at Prescott's employee, but as Carlton Whitton, a business mastermind.
Trying to run one life is hard enough, and many comedic mishaps arise when Brantley tries to maintain his own life and pose as Carlton Whitton on a near full-time basis as well. He has trouble separating the two, when he has to keep hiding Carlton Whitton from his uncle Howard, who obviously knows who he is. He simultaneously has to hide his true identity from a fellow coworker that he falls in love with (Helen Slater). Add to the mix that Howard is having an affair with Christy (Slater) and asks her to spy on Cartlon Whitton because he suspects a spy within his company during rumors of a hostile takeover. Can Brantley keep up with it all? It is the only way to prove to anyone that he's not some dumb college kid. His success depends on it.
The movie is kind of funny, and pretty dated. Sometimes Fox's character is too charming. He never seems to get too angry, even after figuring that some people in the company were trying hard to screw him out of his job (both as Carlton and as Brantley). But, his charm and some of those strange mishaps (the sequence with the four characters at the townhouse sneaking around at night is a nice arrangement) keep the movie going. Best recommended for 80s fans or Michael J. Fox fans who would mostly likely be immune to some of the films flaws.