My Top 5 Advertising Movies. Agree or Step Off.
You know, advertising gets a bad rap pretty much every day except Super Bowl Sunday. And then, all of a sudden, everyone’s a creative director. You know what? Step off, it’s hard to make commercials! But the reason people don’t know it (or didn’t before Mad Men) is that there haven’t been many great movies about advertising. Sure, on TV we have the aforementioned Mad Men, Bewitched, and thirtysomething, and even the well-meaning The Crazy Ones with the recently departed Robin Williams. They taught the unwashed masses about clients from hell, and pitches, and the cool-looking but heart-wrenching creative process.
But not so much for movies. This leads me to believe that the only thing harder than making commercials is making a good movie about the people who make commercials. So, with that in mind, and because I’m inspired today, I give you my top 5 advertising movies. You can agree, or not. If you don’t, you’re just completely wrong, that’s all.
5) “BEER,” 1985 – I’d almost forgotten this one, a bona-fide David Alan Grier classic. Fresh off Kentucky Fried Movie and before his legendary run on “In Living Color,” Grier was just one of three hapless guys who accidentally foil a robbery at a bar and end up in beer commercials as the macho archetype.
4) “WHAT WOMEN WANT,” 2001 – Back before he went batshit crazy, people would watch Mel Gibson in anything, including this take on the switcheroo trope. Sexist ad guy can read women’s minds, and ultimately becomes more sensitive AND successful! And remember when Helen Hunt was still a thing? I still would kill to work at that Chicago office. And get with Marisa Tomei.
3) “BOOMERANG,” 1992 – The fact that my son’s name is Marcus has nothing to do with how much I love this movie. And young Halle Berry. And John Witherspoon’s coordinating outfit. And Eddie Murphy’s hair in this movie, one of his last before he started making awful, unfunny family shite. As a matter of fact, I’m damn close to stopping this list at 3 so I can go watch Boomerang again right now.
2) “CRAZY PEOPLE,” 1990 – Just go see it. And laugh. Loudly. And this is from a person who doesn’t like Dudley Moore OR Daryl Hannah, so this was a hard sell. But the car ads alone made this one a classic.
1) “LOST IN AMERICA,” 1985 – Ad guy doesn’t get raise and promotion. Promptly curses out boss and replacement and is escorted out. Hilarity ensues. Both my kids still turn to me from time to time and tell me that they’re going to “drop out of society” and drive an RV cross-country. This movie is everything. Albert Brooks’ humor, Julie Hagerty’s classic cluelessness. And one of the funniest Vegas scenes in movie history.
So. Get your Netflix queue going. You’ve got work to do.
© 2015, Kwame DeRoché