The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer Reviews
Michael Rimmer strolls into an advertising firm one morning, and immediately unnerves the company with his eerie, smiling confidence. He announces that he has been hired to work in "coordination," but the possibility is left open that he is pretending -- everyone just accepts his word that he is a new employee. Once he has introduced himself, Rimmer (armed with intimidating stopwatch and clipboard) begins monitoring others' efficiency and arousing their insecurities. He even camps out in the restroom, watching other men use the facilities.
He focuses most on the polling department, and soon pressures the otherwise conservative group to launch a wide-ranging poll about sexual habits. The sensational results land him and the firm on the newspapers' front pages. Not content with this success, Rimmer goes even further, sabotaging a rival company by planting interviewees to skew the "random" data being gathered for a religious survey. Needless to say, the eventual conclusion -- that local Buddhists and Muslims greatly outnumber Church of England members -- does wonders to sink the competitor's credibility.
Major political forces soon notice Rimmer and recruit him as a consultant. He winds up in Parliament, continuing to find devious ways to elevate himself while setting up his peers to embarrass themselves. One of his more elaborate schemes involves government spies robbing a Swiss gold reserve -- they incapacitate the guards with aerosol cans that spray instant flu germs. He then engineers a cover-up lie about a vast gold discovery in the North Sea, and somehow blames Egypt for the heist. Inhabited with Cook's usual dead-eyed demeanor, Rimmer casually shrugs through these sinister triumphs.
The humor is not especially "Monty Python"-esque, and the gags may be subtler than you'll expect (though Cleese -- both he and Chapman have tiny parts -- inserts a random move around the 10-minute mark that's oddly similar to a "silly walk"). There's a fake commercial that's boldly suggestive by 1970 standards, an amusing Scrabble game where the words serve as sexual banter, a few good puns (Rimmer visits "Budleigh Moor," obviously a nod to Cook's comedy partner Dudley Moore) and some scattered quotable lines. Says someone of Rimmer: "He's ruthless, opportunistic, dishonest, shallow, evasive and unprincipled. But I'm still not sure he'll make a good leader."
The only negative aspect was the overuse of silly Monty Pythonisms (the script was co-written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman). Now I am a huge Monty Python fan and the Pythonisms in isolation are great, but they often detracted from the serious parody.
Great acting by Peter Cook - so devious and manipulative that he should have been a politican! Denholm Elliott also shines. John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Ronnie Corbett also appear, though fairly briefly.
P.S. I'd advise you to watch this with access to the IMDB because I spent half the movie going "Gah! Where do I recognise him from??"
Its very episodic and has some great scenes, but it never quite gels together as a whole film. I suppose this due to Cleese and Cook's experiences and talents for writing for sketch comedy shows in the 60's.
Cook is excellent as the strange, but driven Rimmer who will stop at nothing to reach the top. It's probably a lot more relevant now than it was in 1970, and you can see a lot of what was comedy at the time actually happening for real today.
Theres also some excellent support, most notably Arthur Lowe, but also some good turns from John Cleese, Harold Pinter, Ronnie Corbett and Ronald Fraser. Theres also a good turn from Graham Crowden who has been in some very similar films such as The Ruling Class and Brittania Hospital.
If you enjoyed those films you will certainly appreciated the Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, if not you may well be scratching your head after you've watched it.