Radioland Murders

  • 1994
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Comedy

It would be easy to call this noisy, inept period farce the worst of the periodic collaborations between executive producer George Lucas and screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (whose joint credits include AMERICAN GRAFFITI and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM), were it not for the fact that the same trio bears responsibility for the infamous...read more

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It would be easy to call this noisy, inept period farce the worst of the periodic collaborations between executive producer George Lucas and screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (whose joint credits include AMERICAN GRAFFITI and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM), were it not for

the fact that the same trio bears responsibility for the infamous HOWARD THE DUCK.

In 1939 Chicago, a new radio network is about to be launched. Penny (Mary Stuart Masterson), the Girl Friday and de facto producer, has just decided to divorce Roger (Brian Benben), one of the staff writers. Amid the opening night chaos, key station personnel start turning up dead. As the

director (Jeffrey Tambor), sponsor (Brion James), announcer (Corbin Bernsen), network president (Ned Beatty), general manager (Larry Miller), et al., are serially retired, a sonorous voice hails each victim's demise from somewhere inside the studio. When police detective Cross (Michael Lerner)

shows up to investigate, suspicion falls on Roger, who is chased around the building in a feeble attempt at slapstick farce. A large number of pointless cameos includes Peter MacNicol, Bobcat Goldthwait, Robert Klein, and Harvey Korman, who appear as hapless writers; Michael McKean, who leads the

studio band in a Spike Jones workout; and Christopher Lloyd as Hungarian sound effects maestro Zoltan. (Completely unexplained are Billy Barty, George Burns, and Bo Hopkins, who stumble through without apparent connection to the frenzied goings-on.) After much thud and blunder, the real

perpetrator is exposed: it's revenge-crazed sound engineer Max Applewhite (Stephen Tobolowsky), who believes that his patent for the invention of radio was stolen from him. (This plot twist refers vaguely to a historical controversy over radio's origins, articulated in great detail in Ken Burns's

PBS documentary EMPIRE OF THE AIR.)

With the possible exception of special effects and stunts, this is an all-round disaster. The flat, muddled screenplay is without period flavor; the cast is uniformly loud and tiresome; the direction (by Mel Smith, whose entertaining farce THE TALL GUY is essentially what this movie aspires to

be) is overheated and confusing. If RADIOLAND MURDERS is remembered at all, it will be for its extensive use of high-tech matte techniques that allowed separately filmed actors to appear in the same scene; this may account for the eerily disjointed quality of some of the dialogue. (Violence,sexual situations, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1994
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: It would be easy to call this noisy, inept period farce the worst of the periodic collaborations between executive producer George Lucas and screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (whose joint credits include AMERICAN GRAFFITI and INDIANA JONES AND TH… (more)

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