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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Retro Review: Switching Channels (1988)

Switching Channels
Cast: Kathleen Turner, Burt Reynolds, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Henry Gibson
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $9 million 

Plot: A television news chief courts his anchorwoman ex-wife with an 11th-hour story

'Makes Me Switch Channels When It Comes On'

Charmless and unremarkable screwball comedy with a main line-up that can't muster up enough charisma, screen presence and watchability to make it work. Coupled with a limp and utterly dull screenplay, Switching Channels, a late 1980s remake of His Girl Friday, is a screwball type rom-com that is practically 'screwed' in its execution in all areas. 

The problem with this movie is that despite updating it for the 1980s with a 24- hr TV news channel in place of a newspaper journalistic setting, as much as it attempts to retain its '60s feel, it just doesn't feel modern enough for one to get by. The laughs and smiles it generates are very few and far between at every given opportunity. 

A broad news satire that doubles up as a romantic comedy of some sorts, the film has Kathleen Turner's Christy, a news anchorwoman who leaves Chicago to go on vacation and she hits it off with a rich, good-looking guy, Blaine who sweeps her off her feet. When she returns, she announces to her ex-partner & now current boss, John that she is done with her career and intends to settle down with Blaine. John still is in love with Christy and does what he can to keep her on the station and make sure that she doesn't leave. 

Kathleen Turner's good run of form ended with this movie, despite that 1989's The War of the Roses was entertaining, and thus, Switching Channels was the start of her decline as an actress, as the 1990s weren't very kind to Turner as her career went downwards with low-par efforts that followed with V.I Warscwarski, Undercover Blues and Serial Mom. Reynolds, however, can't pull off the tough, intimidating boss role, whilst Reeves's character is a nice guy & who, unlike former, seems to be at ease when he goes about his performance. 

In a 2012 interview with A.V Club website, Kathleen Turner mentioned that Switching Channels was the only movie she was disappointed in and that she didn't take it for the right reasons, with one being she was heavily pregnant at the time. She also wanted Michael Caine to do the movie with her, but instead, Burt Reynolds was roped in, which he wasn't happy about. Both Turner and Burt Reynolds emit zero chemistry as the former lovebirds, with the two reportedly had clashed with each other on set, and the performances as a whole fail to set the movie alight and are effortlessly dull. The romance sub-plot is meh, the rest of the movie is just bland, lacking in wit and is unfunny when it tries to be amusing, especially the scene with Christopher Reeves's Blaine, who is afraid of heights and when he is stuck in a lift, he hallucinates and makes weird noises. 

Switching Channels was nominated for a Razzie award, but it wasn't until I watched this how it fully deserves that accolade and it has that makeshift TV movie tone. It just doesn't generate much that is good that warrants a recommended watch, nor qualify as a guilty pleasure flick. 

Final Verdict:

Switching Channels is a news comedy that is as boring and tedious as practically watching a TV news channel, 24 hrs a day. Miscasting of leads, though moreso with Burt Reynolds being the bigger culprit, poor humour that fails to hit the mark and a weak story that does little to drum up interest from me, all make for a calamitous film that is devoid of charm, enjoyment and wit.  


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