(2001) - Paramount
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
96 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, dual layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case
package, behind-the-scenes featurette, theatrical trailer,
film-themed menu, scene access (15 chapters), languages: English (DD
5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed
for an actor, you're an EGOMANIAC!"
Sally Field has won two Oscars, for Norma
Rae and Places In The Heart,
and she's proven herself time and again as a dramatic actress, even
recently appearing as a schizophrenic on ER
(and she won an Emmy for it). But to me, I think she's sold short as
a comedic actress. She's got great comic timing, and can always
over-react like it's nobody's business. So I've always been happy
with the studio head that thought Sally would do a good job in Soapdish,
a farce that takes place behind the scenes of a popular soap opera.
Sally plays Celeste Talbert, the star of "The Sun Also Sets,"
a soap opera that's been around since the beginning of time and
that's struggling in the ratings. On the night she wins her
up-teenth Emmy, America's sweetheart discovers that her live-in
boyfriend has moved out and broke up with her on the answering
machine. It starts a chain of events that forces Celeste to
re-examine her life, and she doesn't like what she sees.
So in swoops David Barns (Robert Downey Jr.) and Montana Moorehead
(Cathy Moriarty), the show's young producer and villainous actress.
They see Celeste's mid-life crisis as an opportunity to bump her off
the show, thus making Montana the star, and they set-up a story line
where she kills a homeless deaf mute while working in a soup kitchen
to turn America against her. Only they don't know that the actress
cast, as the homeless girl is Celeste's niece, Laurie (Elizabeth
Shue), and Celeste convinces the network head to make her a lead.
Frustrated but determined, David and Montana hire Jeffery Anderson
(Kevin Kline) to join the cast. Jeffery was a cast member back when
Celeste joined the show, and they were a couple both on and
off-screen. But after their off-screen romance fizzled, Celeste had
him written off the show.
Will Celeste finally flip out when she sees Jeffery again? Why is
Jeffery trying to go out with Laurie? Will David and Montana
succeed? Find out in: SOAPDISH!
One obvious problem with the film is that it is just not very
believable at all. There are times that the
plot-twists-on-top-of-plot twists seem more than contrived. Then
again, this is a farce, the broadest type of comedy there is, and is
probably intended that way.
However, one of the major strengths of Soapdish
is its direction by Michael Hoffman. He allows the cast, which also
includes Whoopi Goldberg, to be as hammy and crazy as possible, but
acts as a wrangler to harness the craziness and use it towards
furthering the story. There is a lot that jammed into the film's
relatively short running time, and it moves along briskly with
Paramount does yet another solid transfer with this disc. The
colors are accurate; the black level is nice and deep. I didn't
notice any compression problems, but I did see a good amount of
grain, which is noticeable against white portions of the image.
There was also a fair amount of noticeable edge enhancement.
Audio-wise, I actually preferred the 2.0 mix over the 5.1 mix. The
5.1 mix had a number of directional effects that sounded really
forced and unnatural, and the rear channels are almost only used for
the score. I was also unhappy with the lack of bass in the sound
mix, especially after hearing the not exactly aggressive
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels track.
Extras are pretty slim. A trailer and behind-the-scenes featurette
are provided. Both are very grainy and full-screen. And both are
poorly produced, by the way. The behind-the-scenes featurette clocks
in less than five minutes, and is basically your standard EPK
Soapdish is just an
entertaining comedy that is well cast, and at times, reaches pure
brilliance. Overall, it falls a little short of that goal, but is a
great rent nonetheless.