"The Secret of My Success" (1987)

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: Herbert Ross
Written By: Jim Cash, Jack Epps, Jr.
Runtime: 110 minutes
Studio: MCA Universal Home Video

Michael J Fox plays Brantley Foster, a recent college graduate in pursuit of a new job in finance in New York City. There, he is forced to take a job working for his Uncle Howard (Richard Jordan), president of a company through marriage. Starting off with a job in the mailroom, Brantley, ever determined, climbs his way up the corporate ladder by posing as an executive. Along the way he unwittingly becomes extremely acquainted with his exuberant Aunt Vera (Margaret Whitton), while falling for na├»ve work-orientated Christy (Helen Slater) who is having an affair with Howard… Things get complicated with hilarious results.

I love this movie. It’s wonderfully 80s, incredibly light-hearted with a warm message at its core – If you’re willing to go after it, you can accomplish it. Or a huge ode to the good old 'fake it 'til you make it' mantra

Brantley is a brilliant character; witty, kind-hearted, and full of sheer determination and drive to get where we wants to go in life regardless of the work that must be undertaken along the way. I’ve always admired the opening scenes during his job hunt and the very logical point he makes about not being hired because he has no experience, but not getting any experience because he’s not being hired anywhere. Throughout the film, he goes out of his way to be kind to everyone; frowning upon the division of co-workers throughout the company when being given a tour around the office, stating, “She’s a person, I can’t talk to her?” As well as this, he’s a fine charmer and knows this well as he seems to be able to charm his way up the company, winning the hearts of almost all the people he encounters. 

His first encounter with Aunt Vera as he drives her home is quite a memorable scene. Having complimented her to great heights when she needed it most, he drives her home as she commences to seduce him from the back seat to the track “Oh Yeah” by Yello. This track was very popular at the time having been notoriously used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but personally I think it’s far more suited to this sequence. The hilarity continues in the next scene once they arrive home as she further tries and success in seducing him in her swimming pool to the theme song of Jaws – neither of them realising they are actually related, of course. (Not that this hinders her later advances throughout the film.)

Michael J Fox as always is a comedic genius. He’s known for his comedic timing and this is one movie he certainly proves his excellence. The scene which I’ll refer to as ‘The Sex Opera’, is extremely funny and well pulled off. Brantley, staying in his dingy apartment, is unable to sleep due to the loud interruptions from the adjacent apartment, so he takes it upon himself to pretend to be a conductor orchestrating their…enthusiasm. Laughs are a plenty!

Brantley’s secretary, Jean, is one of the more lovable characters, and one of my favourites. She catches poor Brantley in some very comprising situations as he jumps from posing as one identity in the mail room to the other as the executive. The running gag about the elevators being broken is amusing. I was surprised to realise that the actress, Carol Ann Susi, was actually the actress who provided the voice of Howard Wolowitz’s infamousoff-screen mother in The Big Bang Theory. Bit of trivia for you if you didn’t know already!!  

I can’t go without mentioning the soundtrack of his film. While in my opinion there are moments when the choice of song for the scene, or just the way it’s edited, is a bit jarring to me (e.g. the scene when Brantley is talking up the other executives at a party hosted by Howard and Vera), it’s still one I have come to love. Particularly Pat Benator’s “Sometimes The Good Guys Finish First”. I love that song, it’s one that puts a person in a good mood. As does "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina And The Waves which also features here. And of course I’ve mentioned Yello’s “Oh Yeah”.

This is such a great movie. If you are in need of a laugh, or in need of some cheering up or motivation in life – this is the movie to go for! You will be filled with the same determination as Brantley exudes to go out and (excuse the crudeness) grab life by the balls. 

Final Rating: 4/5 Stars