Principal Cast :  Michael J Fox, Helen Slater, Margaret Whitton, Richard Jordan, John Pankow, Mercedes Ruehl. Brantley Foster (Michael J Fox) has just graduated from business college in Kansas, and moves to New York for work – only to discover that his new job no longer exists, since the company just went under. Part sex romp, part romantic comedy, part financial gobbledegook, The Secret Of My Success is an uneven attempt to capitalize on the start status of 80’s uber-teen Michael J Fox, who looks for all the world like he was about 17 when he made this – he wasn’t, he was 25. The uneven tone of the film, in which the central character must engage in farcical sex-romp comedy with Aunt Vera, climb the ladder of finance with a canny understanding beyond his years, and lust after the seemingly unattainable hot-goddess from the top floor, is about the only real negative for the whole film: the characters aren’t exactly steeped in realism, so you can forget about this being in any way believable, and the story relies less on dialogue and more on the slapstick-esque nature of Fox to generate real laughs.
The film’s cast are all given fairly generic roles to play; generic by 1980’s standards, at least. 80’s comedies don’t get much more friendly than this – Fox is a likeable lead, and Helen Slater is always a joy to cast your eyes upon; the film does feel a little too forced at times, which does come out in the more intimate sequences, but generally it’s a pleasing, self-effacing romp that’ll have you guffawing at the ludicrousness of it all each time. Normally detesting these kinds of bios, Rodney’s keen love of film more often outclasses his ability to write convincingly about them.
Never blessed with a body worthy of a porn star, nor being the heir to a wealthy industrialists fortune, nor suffering the tragedy of having his parents murdered outside a Gotham theater, Rodney is, contrary to popular opinion, neither Ron Jeremy, JD Rockefeller, or Batman. As a serious appreciator of film since 1996, Rodney’s love affair with the medium has continued with his online blog, Fernby Films, a facility allowing him to communicate with fellow cineasts in their mutual love of all things movie. Oh my, this is one of my guilty pleasures from the 80s, I must have seen this half a dozen times. Brantley Foster, a well-educated kid from Kansas, has always dreamed of making it big in New York, but once in New York, he learns that jobs - and girls - are hard to get.
Leading a double life in order to get ahead, things take a turn for the worse when he falls for the bosses mistress, and his wife falls for him. The decade of decadence – at least, that’s how I saw it, where business was booming and businessmen were the epitome of cool.
Desperate not to have to return to Kansas, Foster gets work in the mail-room of his Uncle Howard’s company, Pemrose Incorporated.

The 80’s, when greed was good, feels like quicksilver in this film, which melds about three genres of film into one and comes up with a fairly funny, somewhat dated and always Fox-driven piece about losing oneself at the expense of ones dreams. It plays as a comedy, but director Herbert Ross, best known for films like Footloose, Steel Magnolias and Boys On The Side, tries to get more out of it than the script, by Jim Cash, will allow. Helen Slater seems somewhat out of place and completely out of her depth as the canny businesswoman whom Fox falls for – she’s gorgeous, sure, but comes across a lot like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley did in the last Transformers movie. I was always fond of the VHS box with MJF riding that champagne blast, but I never did get around to watching it.
When Brantley visits his uncle, Howard Prescott, who runs a multi-million-dollar company, he is given a job in the company's mail room. WatchViooz does not offer any copyright infringement material, all our data comes from TMDb and trailers from YouTube. This wasn’t the kind of work Foster trained for, so he surreptitiously uses a corner office to climb the corporate ladder as Carlton Whitfield, gleaning information about the company through his connections in the mail room.
It’s not the raucous adult-style humor we’ve come to know and love these days; The Secret Of My Success pre-dates The Hangover and American Pie by about 10 years at least, so the humor is derived less from the sexually aggressive Aunt Vera character and more from the reaction of Fox’s Bradley Foster.
Just look at films like Wall Street, as an example, where the financial sector was the focus of what it meant to be “successful”. As Carlton, he romances fellow “suit” Christy Willis (Helen Slater), and is preyed upon by Howard’s wife Vera (Brantley’s Aunt by marriage) – a man-eating nymphomaniac who just happens to own the company Howard’s running. Fox does his now-familiar “breathless enthusiasm” character once more, much like he did in Back To The Future, Doc Hollywood, and even Teen Wolf,  moving through this film like a supercharged jackrabbit; Fox looks perennially startled in his early films, and Success is no different. Is it a statement on just how shallow we all are for wanting to be wealthy and seeing wealth as a measure of “success”? Richard Jordan skirts the implausible as the Pemrose CEO, Howard Prescott, on the one hand running a multi-million dollar company like a Nazi death-camp and on the other, unaware that his wife is shagging all the young meat she can get her claws into. Michael J Fox’s post-Back To The Future project, The Secret Of My Success, capitalized on that genre of film, by making Fox’s Family Ties Alex Keaton move to New York and sneak his way up the corporate ladder.

As he leads a double life as Carlton, Brantley befriends a number of Wall Street heavyweights who can help him become the success he so desperately craves, but his deceptions may lead the love of his life to leave him forever. Or are we meant to take this film exactly as it seems: as a bumbling comedy about a kid wanting to impress a girl and leading two lives in order to do so?
The fact that he’s having an affair with Christy as well (something Brantley’s unaware of) seems somewhat creepy considering the age gap, although maybe this was the norm back in the 80’s? Margaret Whitton as Aunt Vera is the scene stealer though as the cougar who's after her own nephew! Okay, so Alex Keaton doesn’t exist in this film, but the character here is almost an exact carbon copy of that sitcom icon, so close in ego and drive to succeed is he. Whichever the case may be, Success is still eminently watchable, especially for the chemistry between Fox and his sultry co-star Margaret Whitton as Aunt Vera. John Pankow does well as the cynically self-aware Fred, who works with Brantley in the mail room, and is this film’s “everyman” character moreso than even Fox’s.
While the film’s somewhat desperate farcical elements contradict the more serene romantic elements, or even the blustering boardroom antics, Success has a number of things working in its favour – not the least of which is Fox himself.
Sharp eyed viewers will also spot US Stage and screen legend Elizabeth Franz as Brantley’s mother, Mercedes Ruehl as a waitress, and Herman Munster himself – Fred Gwynne – as a competing CEO looking to take over Pemrose. Still, some two and a half decades after it came out, does the film still have something pertinent to say about our rampant capitalist ideology?

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