The Sun Also Sets has the drama we crave,
The soap with the stars that all smile and wave,
But drama onscreen isn’t nearly as juicy
As backstage commotions the cast and the crew see.
The overwrought diva, the starving new star,
The beau with a grudge who is sick of the bar,
The boss who wants ratings, the nag who wants fame,
The desperate producer in need of a dame—
With all these nutcases who ravish and rage,
Forget the soap opera; just peek at backstage.
My VC wants me to review some films from the ‘90s so she insisted upon this star-studded comedy, and while I had seen it before, I forgot just how funny it is. As a send-up of the histrionics of soap operas, Soapdish pokes fun at all the right places: back-room machinations, intentional overacting, absurd plot points, desperate stars, praise-needy stars, guilt-ridden stars, has-been stars, stars who climb on rocks.
The film also brings together some considerable star power, led by three extremely watchable actors—Sally Field, Kevin Kline, and the lovely Elizabeth Shue—and a host of supporting characters played by Whoopi Goldberg, Cathy Moriarty, Robert Downey, Jr., Kathy Najimy, and other pleasant surprises, whose lives imitate art imitating life. While no one involved delivers their best work, everyone involved has at least one chuckle-worthy moment, and often several laugh-out-loud ones. Field, in particular, is manic, catty, and generally amusing as Celeste Talbert, reminding everyone that she can handle comedy just as well as drama.
While the majority of the film is entertaining, with plots to get rid of Celeste, pointed squabbles between Field and Kline, and ludicrous family drama, the climax is easily the best part. Similar to the end of Tootsie, an impromptu live broadcast puts everyone on their worst behavior, and their improvised antics are comedy gold (“a rare case of brake fluid?!”). Soapdish may not rank among the best comedies, but it certainly has its moments of witty fun.
Best line: (Montana Moorhead, playing Nurse Nan) “Sudden speech, the last sign of brain fever. She could blow at any moment!”
© 2015 S. G. Liput
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