Field excels as aging star in laugh-filled 'soapdish'

VIDEO

November 29, 1991|By Josh Mooney

SOAPDISH

Paramount Home Video

Priced for rental

"Soapdish" is a fast-paced, slightly mad comedy about the behind-the-scenes antics of the cast and crew of a fictional daytime drama, "The Sun Also Sets." The film, written by Robert Harling and Andrew Bergman, and directed by Michael Hoffman, throws large handfuls of gags against the wall, and plenty of them stick.

Sally Field is super as Celeste, America's reigning soap queen sweetheart who begins to realize that she's getting older -- and makes life a living hell for everyone else as a result.

Unknown to her, she's about to become the victim of a plot cooked up by the show's spineless, unscrupulous producer (Robert Downey Jr.) and the object of his perverse lusts, Celeste's acting rival Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty). Enter Jeffrey Anderson (the always-terrific Kevin Kline), who once played Dr. Rod Randall on the show, as well as playing Celeste's lover in real life (she hates him now).

If it sounds silly, it is, and it never apologizes for being so. You don't need to be a fan of "daytime drama" to get it, either. That's how smart this film is.

Veterans of John Hughes films both in front of and behind the camera reunite for a Hughes-produced light romantic comedy that has moments of charm (thanks mostly to John Candy, who once again fails to find a film worthy of his talents).

Too often, though, writer-director Chris Columbus (who directed Hughes' script of "Home Alone") takes the middle road, trying to please every audience imaginable.

That's why an off-beat premise -- an unlikely romance between an overfed mamma's boy (Mr. Candy) and an insecure young woman working as a cosmetician in her father's funeral home (Ally Sheedy, from Mr. Hughes' "The Breakfast Club") -- is neatly reduced to pabulum.

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