Saturday, March 27, 2021

80's Watch Party Watch: The Secret of My Success (1987)

Watched:  03/26/2021
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade: so, so 1980's
Director:  Herbert Ross

I have no affinity for The Secret of My Success (1987).  I saw it upon its theatrical release in 1987, where I was carded as a 12 year old entering a PG-13 movie.  My friend's dad had to come into the box office and tell them it was fine.  So, thanks, Mr. P.

I also remember both the seduction of "Brantley" and the immediate revelation he'd been seduced by a distant sorta relative.  And the use of Yello's "Oh Yeah".*

And, of course, Helen Slater, who I didn't realize was Helen Slater until college or so.  And - the ruse which is the core of the film, which I thought I understood but missed something.  But I am here to tell you here in 2021 AD, I do not understand what Brantley was doing.

Like, was Brantley pretending to be an exec for a short time to prove he could do it and get hired under his own name?  Was he planning to pose as a high powered exec, be responsible for the lives and careers of thousands of people, for no pay for the next 40 years?  There's absolutely no end-game here.  Also - while very 1980's to lie to your love interest about who you are and have it all come out in the final reel (and for them to totally forgive you), that is the act of a sociopath.  At best, a sociopath.  If Brantley had gone to better schools, he'd be Patrick Bateman.  

I mean, this is all ignoring that sooner or later someone was going to wonder who he reported to, who hired him, etc...  If he knows all about shipping in Toledo, I'm pretty sure he knows that HR exists as well as that this all seems like it will get him arrested.  

The movie also 1980's adores the pursuit of wealth above all, especially by being a high powered exec.  If the 2000's decided attaching the word "entrepreneur" to your identity should make you above any sort of criticism or complaint, the 1980's saw climbing the corporate ladder for an office in a shiny building as the ultimate form of human endeavor.  And, our plucky 25 year old (lookin' all of 19 and still totally non-threatening for our Tiger Beat readers) Michael J. Fox is gonna lie, lie, lie all the way til he's not just an exec, but THE exec of a company with - as described - the value of the GDP of most countries.  

In some ways, I kinda wonder if The Huduscker Proxy is a direct response to this movie.  They'd make for a fascinating double-bill.

Anyway, I don't care for this movie.  It is not good.  It never has been.  It makes literally no sense, and the only time I laughed at what is supposed to be a comedy in the 100 minutes or so of run time was when Fox stumbles through his description of the funeral he'd (not) just come from.

It feels like a Rated-R version of this movie probably existed at one point - it wants to be a sex farce from time to time.  There's some stuff that seems "movie for our parents" ready or adjacent, but I suspect once Fox was cast, the die was set for a PG-13 movie and rewrite.

And, as Jamie stated "this ending is Some Old Bullshit".  None of it makes sense, not least of which is Fox being allowed in the building at all after getting fired.  But also - very cool that the investors decide to take a chance on a kid who just spent a month lying about who he is and playing dress-up as an exec.

But, the '80's everybody.

I forgot to mention, this movie came out in April of 1987, and Black Monday was 6 months later in October of '87.  So all of this maneuvering was likely to end in Fox getting shown the door as his investors would need to recoup their losses by end of October and the faith in a 25 year old to run the corporation would have been lost.  But Helen Slater would still have looked marvelous.

*I'll argue Aunt Vera is the most interesting character in the movie by a country mile, and one of the few people not doing a schtick and doing some acting, but whatever.

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