Impatient and late to work one morning, frazzled advertising agency executive Emory Leeson misses the deadline for several big name company advertisements. Complaining that he does advertisements for products he doesn’t like, Emory tells his partner, “You and I lie for a living.”
Emory comes up with an unique idea: truth in advertising. Deciding to be totally honest about the product, he devises advertising copy that candidly communicates what would traditionally only be the sub-text of most ads. For example: “Volvo, it’s boxy…” or “Metamucil. It will make you go to the toilet.”
This strategy is considered insane by his co-workers, who commit their stressed-out associate to a mental hospital. Emory’s advertisements, however, are printed by mistake and create a sensation. The company president, Druckner, wants Emory back, but having made a lot of new friends at the asylum he refuses to leave. When Emory is allowed to create advertisements there with his fellow inmates, Druckner couldn’t care less about the patients’ newly found self-esteem. He just wants to exploit them, thus fulfilling the who’s-really-crazy premise.
The film is a humorous treatment of a serious 20th century problem — deception — which stems from the pervasive attitude “get it now, get it fast and who cares about the consequences?” Even the film’s writer says, “What some advertisements do is unconscionable. When you see a girl draped on a car, what are you supposed to think? The idea is to grab you in the basest manner, and no one seems to care about the morality involved.”
The film makers understand, then, that appealing to lusts of the eye is not right. The message subsequently put forth is that truthfulness sells, which to a certain extent confirms Jeremiah 7:8, “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.” (Notice, though, how advertising executives who have seen the movie cloud the issue by saying it’s not whether Madison Avenue lies or tells the truth, but whether advertisements speak to consumers intelligently).
However, the film’s view of truth differs from the biblical view of truth. Christians tell the truth because they love God and want to keep His commandments: people in the film tell the truth to sell a product. Moreover, Emory’s advertisements, which used sex jokes and dirty words for shock value, were outrageous, crass, obscene, and coarse — the kind no one in his right mind would put on a billboard. The style is slap-in-you-in-the-face bluntness, not “grace seasoned with salt.”
Also, it is questionable if the laughs are directed at the advertisements themselves, or at the people in the advertisements. One relatively harmless advertisement, for instance, claims that the Japanese make better products because they are shorter than Caucasians and can get closer to their work hunching over circuit boards on an assembly line. The advertisement concludes: “Sony. Because Caucasians are just too d— tall.”
Unfortunately, more advertisements are obscene and offensive than funny, and one scene takes a jab at Christians. Overall, the overwhelmingly repetitive foul language, crude sexual innuendos and lewd, earthy humor will make you want to avoid the film. You would truly be a “crazy person” to see CRAZY PEOPLE.
Several profanities and obscenities; crude sexual references and innuendos; and, lewd, earthy humor.