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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Retro Review: Soapdish (1991)

Cast: Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Shue, Teri Hatcher, Cathy Moriarty, Kathy Najimy, Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall
Genre: Screwball Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $36,489,888

Plot: An ambitious television soap opera actress connives with her producer to scuttle the career of the show's long-time star, but nothing works as they plan

'Overlooked Screwball Comedy Farce From the 90s'

I remembered when this film first came out in 1991, I and my brother each did a drawing of the cast of Soapdish: mines didn't look as good as his, but in reflecting back it was interesting. I never saw it when it came out originally as I was too young for it, but after a recent viewing of the film, it really impressed me a lot.  

Celeste Talbert is the queen of daytime soap opera and one of the biggest divas on the planet. But after years of success on '', The Sun Always Sets'', she faces a set of problems that involve a niece, who later turns out to be not all she seems, jealous cast members, wacky plotlines and an ex-boyfriend who shows up and has a few scores to settle with her. Whilst all this is taking place, peroxide Blonde bombshell and arch-rival of Celeste's, Montana Moorehead along with David and Ariel hatch a plan to drive Celeste off the show for good, and to make Montana the new darling of 'The Sun Always Sets'. 

Two of my favourite scenes is when Kevin Kline's Jeffery says to Teri Hatcher's Ariel ''you have beautiful eyes'', and she replies ''they're nothing compared to my t**s'' and when Jeffery makes out with Celeste in a funny romantic scene, which they have to act out in front of the crew. 

Currently, this film has a rating of 6.5 on IMDb or something along the lines of that, which is obscene because it deserves a better score than that.

The late director, Garry Marshall, who did Pretty Woman, Overboard amongst other films, plays the head of daytime programming who mutters lines such as ''she's a boy! She's a boy!''. 

Sally Field put on a good performance as Miranda Hillard in Mrs Doubtfire but she was also a dislikeable character. Here as Celeste Talbert, she really is in top gear as she hams it up and breaking new ground in her much lighter role, as she plays the complete opposite of Miranda: she is neurotic, she is feisty and yet she can also be misunderstood at times as well. As well as being rip-roaringly funny and it's not often she gets to be amusing. Sally has terrific camaraderie with both Whoopi Goldberg and Kevin Kline, I couldn't really side with either one of them. Cathy Moriarty is wickedly evil as the b****y Montana Moorehead tearing it up with sidekick, David played by a pre- Avengers Robert Downey Jr. who is smitten with her boobs & is practically dying to sleep with her. Whereas Kevin Kline is so good in this, I'm actually amazed at how he isn't a bigger star and how he wasn't as big in the 1990s as he should've been. This performance, alongside as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda further proves he has a fine knack for doing comedy roles. The teleprompter scene is one that can brighten up anyone's mood. I enjoyed Sally and Kevin's scenes together, they had such great chemistry onscreen. Elizabeth Shue's first major cinematic role since Adventures in Babysitting as Celeste's niece/daughter was great, Teri Hatcher - prior to her Lois & Clark New Adventures of Superman and Desperate Housewives days - was in good form too and Whoopi Goldberg puts on an unforgettable show as Celeste's best friend and The Sun Always Sets head writer. It was a great follow up to her turn as a phoney psychic in 1990's Ghost alongside Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. 

What is really interesting about Soapdish is the irony of the message and plotline behind it - Soap operas are known for their over-the-top plotlines, bombshells, exposes and all of these crazy things are happening in real life within the movie and involving the main cast members, in particular, Celeste, her niece and Celeste's old boyfriend, Jeffrey. Though it was made in 1991, Soapdish is way ahead of its time as it parodies U.S soaps. The plot twists are as highly entertaining as they are humourous, the crazier that they become. And unlike soap operas, there is clever writing throughout Soapdish. Although some may feel a little taken aback by the transsexual plot twist that occurs towards the end of the film.

Soapdish is one of those movies that as brilliantly & wickedly funny, entertaining & witty as it is, it rarely gets aired on TV as much as it deserves to be, and that is an utter shame because it truly is an excellent comedy that needs to be seen.

Final Verdict:

Soapdish is a humorous, farcical modern screwball satire that pokes fun at TV soap opera programmes. It's not an Oscar-worthy contender, and yet it is not a film set out to win awards but to make us laugh and entertain, which it precisely does. & it does so with pure, unadulterated joy. 

Life imitated art, and Soapdish truly lived up to that mantle, successfully. This spontaneous and rather overlooked comedy gem deserves one's attention. Especially fans and regular viewers of soap operas, who will certainly lap this one up. 

One of my favourites of 1991, no doubt about that. 


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