Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flick of The Day: The Secret of My Success

Released at the height of his fame in 1987, The Secret of My Success is another vehicle to display the talents of Michael J. Fox. Fox stars as Brantley Foster, a recent college graduate from a small town in Kansas who heads to New York City to seek his fortune. The film is another in a long line of country-boy-comes-good-in-the-city film's.
Upon his arrival in New York, Brantley finds that his job is gone and his apartment is a rat infested hole. Undaunted, a determined Brantley seeks a meeting with an Uncle via marriage who is a high powered executive, eventually convincing him to give Brantley a job in the mail room. In the kind of capitalistic fantasy game so beloved of the 1980's , Brantley manages to begin impersonating an executive at the company while holding down his mail room job, all in an attempt to woo an another exec, Christy Wills while being pursued by the man-eater wife of his Uncle. The films moves even further into the realm of fantasy with it's comic book ending in which Brantley and Aunt attempt to wrest control of the company from his Uncle.
This film catches Michael J. Fox on a roll, fresh from the success of Back to the Future and Teen Wolf and it shows. His natural charisma and likeability carry a film that is packed with stock characters and clich├ęs. Almost immediately after arriving in New York, he is dodging bullets and squalor, with the addition of a Woody Allen style avuncular Jewish writer and this could be an episode of The Simpsons. That said, the film is not without its charms, in particular a good heart at its core. The supporting characters may be stock but this means that there is a truth to them. The hard working career women, the mail room slob, the frustrated corporate housewife. The film is also very much of its time, with numerous montage sequences of Brantley's struggles in the city set to uplifting power ballads. 
So the film is corny but charming. An enjoyable way to pass a rainy day and that is something that could not be said for a whole host of the film's produced on an annual basis by Hollywood. It's funny, and doesn't hang around long enough to become irritating. Michael J. Fox is always watchable and given his much publicised struggles with Parkinson's disease, he has very much taken a step away from acting. This film captures a moment in time when he was the biggest star in the world. As such, this film is well worth a look.

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