My recollection of Jan Egleson‘s A Shock To The System (’90) is that it was a deliciously dark satire about a harried, middle-aged, losing-his-mojo advertising executive (Michael Caine) who decides to stop being the victim and play hard and dirty with all the people who’ve been threatening his job, injecting anxiety and otherwise making him miserable.
The film basically allows you to snicker along with Caine as he savors the meaning of the phrase “revenge is a dish best served cold.”
I’m writing this because I watched this trailer a while ago and went “what the?…this isn’t some dippy, feel-good comedy for morons…it’s about the satisfaction of giving bad people a taste of their own medicine.” The trailer is so full of shit that it reminded me of that online Shining trailer from 10 or 12 years ago that tried to sell Stanley Kubrick‘s 1980 horror film as a heartwarming family comedy.
From Owen Gleiberman‘s Entertainment Weekly review: “At the beginning of the exhilarating corporate satire A Shock to the System, the voice of Michael Caine comes on the sound track, soothing and seducing us as it has so many times before. That voice, with its halting cockney sparkle, its tones of ironic civility, is one of the most delicious sounds in movies, as unmistakable a comic signature as Chaplin’s bowlegged shuffle.
“Once again, Caine is playing a sneak, a rogue, and drawing the audience into a conspiracy with him-the way he did in Alfie (’66), the movie that made him a star, and then 20 years later in Hannah and Her Sisters. Only this time, his character is going to go farther — much farther.
“A Shock to the System is a black comedy played very, very close to the bone. Written by Andrew Klavan, and directed by the veteran independent filmmaker Jan Egleson, it’s a head-on satire of greed and power that’s also one of the most enticingly intimate portraits of American corporate life ever put on-screen.