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The Smell of Success
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The Smell of Success More at IMDbPro »

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21 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Insert whatever excremental pun you can think of

Author: wmjaho from Park City
22 January 2009

Anyone that has seen a movie by Mark and Michael Polish should come to expect something unusual. Their latest film, Manure, delivers in spades (yeah, that was a pun). Actually, this movie might best be seen under the influence of drugs. Being straight and sober, I'm not sure I appreciated it. Or understood it. Or perhaps I fell asleep and dreamt this.

Starring Billy Bob Thornton and Tea Leoni, the story is about a woman living in New York (Rosemary Rose) who inherits her father's manure company after his untimely passing. Thornton is the lead salesman (Patrick). Together they try to save the company from bankruptcy. That's the sane part.

Here's the silly stuff: Unfortunately, making Rose Manure profitable involves selling a lot of s___ (only one of maybe 200 excrement jokes and puns in the movie). And there's no better bulls____ than Patrick (trust me, they never stop).

No, no, that was the sane part. This is what's zany: Turns out there's new competition in the form of a chemical fertilizer company entering the market, actually by parachuting in countless crates of chemical fertilizers as well as black-suited salesmen who land carrying briefcases.

Hold it, that's still pretty tame compared to the psychedelic mushrooms they eat which causes them to vomit voluminously onto one another and hallucinate, or dressing up the Rose salesmen as Indians to burn at the stake, or the 48 Triple-D breasts one of the salesmen grows when he eats some fertilizer, or the vegetable masks. And there's plenty more where that came from.

The plot is as silly as you can imagine, and like all the acting (except Thornton), way over the top. The sets typically include backdrops, with everything (EVERYTHING) in various shades of brown. You could not conceive of a more ridiculous movie. Which would be perfect if you were in the right mood (know what I mean?). But passing joints is not allowed at Sundance screenings, so most of the crowd was left shaking their heads and wondering what it was they just witnessed.

Notes from Sundance The cast was all present on opening night. Thornton and Leoni were sitting right in front of me. They were both very gracious with fans, allowing their photos to be taken and being great sports. After the movie, Thornton was very funny and clever. But the Q&A quickly fizzled. The audience was too shell-shocked to think of intelligent questions. And no one had the audacity to ask Mark and Michael Polish what was on everyone's mind: "What the heck were you guys thinking?!!!"

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Literal Smell Of Success

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
31 December 2012

The 'Smell of Success' seems quite an an odd title for the film but a couple of minutes into the movie, I realized that the makers were being quite literal. Anyway, it's nice to see that there's a film about the fertilizing industry in the 50s and one that doesn't rely on toilet humour. First of all, most of the jokes were quite funny. I laughed at a number of them even though a few of them were overdone (for example the breast augmentation jokes, the jumping from the plane etc).

The visuals are beautiful. Despite being sepia tinted and almost devoid of colour, they look quite artistic. Most of the frames look like beautiful paintings. The 50s look is also very well captured thanks to the fine art direction costume and makeup.

Billy Bob Thornton does a decent job as the head fertilizer salesman who suddenly feels threatened by sensational Rose and undermines her in his attempts. Tèa Leoni is amazing, proving her comedic fort once again. Frances Conroy is a delight. Mark Polish, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Ed Helm provide good support. Kyle Machlachlan too isn't bad as the smug antagonist.

I only felt that the story lacked consistency. It would occasionally delve into subplots that are never developed. As stated earlier, some of the jokes were overdone and felt repetitive. Given the concept, it could have been a funnier flick but for some reason the Polish Brothers restrain.

Yet, it's a decent watch. A film that certainly has charms with some classy creative toilet humour.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

I Really Enjoyed It

Author: ezriderz from United States
24 April 2011

A low key comedy that kept me amused and entertained. Tea Leoni proves to be a great comedic actress, and I LOLed at several of her pratfalls. Paired with the subtle sly humor of Billy Bob Thornton, there is a lot of nuance to mine from a movie plot about competing manure salesmen.

Low cost production values added to the comic strip sense of humor. Scenery seemed painted, e.g., clouds in the sky didn't move with the breeze. But the story had all the necessary elements, including bad guys in the form of a competitor fertilizer company which seems overpoweringly endowed. There were subtle double entendres that showed the tongue in cheek intent of the film.

This is an amusing and fairly intelligent comedy pretending to be dumber than it is. Some viewers don't get the deeper level of very well executed comic strip comedy.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

simple joke

Author: Kirpianuscus from Romania
23 January 2017

or a game. adventure. dark comedy. parody of few genres. or, simple, entertainment. it seems be strange to define this crazy story who could remind many similar others but who has the virtue to be a charming and not comfortable ironic view about the different aspects of business world. it has influences from the French comedy and crumbs from teenager games. it is occasion for each actor to give memorable characters and to remind the crazy pleasure of to be out of ordinary expectation. result, a nice, chaotic story. good actors in not the most convincing roles-Tea Leoni is the name who remains long time after the final credits in memory for the inspired manner to solve the challenge of her character - . and a good job.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Interesting story with a unappealing subject.

Author: Stefania Rocco from Canada
3 January 2012

Bof, I just saw the movie with my husband and I like the beginning but the story turned strange rapidly. Too much emphasis on the sh*t jokes. I really like Billy Bob Thornton thats why I rented the movie, I never heard of it before. I was at the video club and I rent it with 2 others movies. Tea Leoni was great but the character she played was too clumsy and it look a bit too surreal. The colour in the movie were strange, my husband didn't stop telling me that everything is brown! It was filmed in sepia, I was hoping that they will switched to normal colour but they only do at the end of the movie. The sepia got me very annoyed during the movie, it nice for a couple of minutes, half-hour maximum but the entire movie was too exaggerated. An average movie for a Wednesday night.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A farce by any other name...

Author: dijjjon from Canada
19 June 2011

I read the preceding review before I saw the film and I was compelled to return to IMDb, register and drop a few lines of my own. With all due respect to the Sundance attendee, I laughed at the portion of the review that described how the Q&A session fizzled after a few minutes. The film reminded me of Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days". What more is there to be said? Téa Leoni is simply heroic in her pratfalls and Thornton wears the brown suit like a snake. Strangely enough, Ed Helms doesn't fit in the cast since his elephant through a pinhole style is too familiar. I'm sorry I had to stumble upon this piece. What can "brown do for you" when it's competing with self-centred angst, car crashes and CGI monsters for the attention of simpletons.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: Armand from Romania
10 January 2015

a nice film about a special product. pure hilarious comedy with perfect end, good actors and without great expectations script about competition, revenge, s.h.i.t. and a strange love story. it is easy to enjoy you about a very delicate subject and its fight against miracle. childish in many parts, it could be a good choice for the fans of actors - the metamorphose of character by Tea Leoni is one of seductive details. a film about smells. not ordinaries but useful. about a project and about solutions to a deep crisis. not great. but nice. strange. but seductive for its chaotic solutions. and, maybe, for options for revenge.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: sharok from France
12 November 2014

If you like realism, pass this one. If you like explosions, likewise. If your favorite film is Notting Hill, forget it. But if you like the unexpected, if you like being surprised by well-known actors in improbable roles, if you appreciate the second and third degrees of humor and things going a bit strange, this is definitely a film to see. Do not expect sanity or anything to do with down-to-earth. This is Delicatessen in Kansas, it's the Wizard of Oz without wizards and just one monkey. It's insane, it's incredible, and it is simply delicious. A review is supposed to be ten lines long, but that is an arbitrary limit imposed by functionaries that cannot comprehend that sometimes art cannot be described in a predetermined format.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This is sooo funny!

Author: jllewell from Australia
2 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Honestly, the poop jokes are what people mainly took away... but there's so much more! Tons of social comment, companies, chemical manufacture, people... you name it, it's here.

If all you took away from this was faecal pleasantries, you weren't paying attention. This is not a film for extremely literal people, or people who are ignorant of current events in the world of agriculture, food production, global patenting etc. We all know who 'Milagro' is supposed to represent.

I adored the way it was filmed - some people hated it, but I thought it lent just the right tone... a deliberately artificial atmosphere, and it made it all the better. I don't know who dressed the sets, but if I ever do something like this, I want them working for me.

The gags are just a plus, each one deliberate and funny as hell taken with the whole... these are not 'stand alone' gags.

This is a magic cast for this sweet little film, and it 'comes up smelling like roses' for me.

Watch out for the mushrooms, and don't eat fertilizer!

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A real stinker

Author: dracher from Australia
3 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here is a movie which should have been very funny and should have been one of the most entertainingly funny frolics of the age. instead, it is a stinker from beginning to end. Mr Thornton is incapable of being bad, like any good actor worth his salt, he gives the movie every chance to succeed, he never lets it down and he plays the character to the hilt entirely without fault. unfortunately, the material is not up to it and the direction is of the worst kind of "keep it in" variety. Tea Leoni is also on top of it, but her part is not well written enough to support her sterling work and she appears to be directed in two directions at once, she is supposed to be strong and determined, but she is made to fall over (too many times) and to behave like a half wit from the outset. the two leads seem to be working in different movies as a matter of fact. The jokes are thin and old fashioned and there are way too many sh*t jokes and double entendre are milked until they bleed to death. No care what so ever has been taken with the story or the character backgrounds or the sub-plot and there just isn't enough material on the surface to feed the comedy machine. What a shame and what a waste of celluloid. There are two other brothers, who do this kind of thing so much better in my opinion.

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