Celeste Talbert (Sally Field) is the reigning queen of soap opera, the lead in a mawkish program called "The Sun Also Sets." One of her spiteful co-stars, Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty), is seducing David Barnes (Robert Downey, Jr.), the show's executive producer, so he'll get rid of
Celeste for good and make her the lead. Celeste's one real friend, head writer Rose Schwartz (Whoopi Goldberg), has to spend a lot of effort keeping Field sane and employed, including going with her to a mall and loudly "recognizing" her in public to get fans to crowd around and make her feel
that, yes, they really like her.
Regardless of its all-star cast, the true star of SOAPDISH is the production design. Starting with the gorgeous 1960s-style titles, the show splashes across the screen in bright, gaudy colors, which thrill the eye for the entire film. It often seems so much like a musical (including fantasy
elements such as the live-broadcasts of the soap) that it's surprising no one breaks into song. The actors look like they're having a great time, playing exaggerated versions of their stereotyped neuroses, and the complex plot's fast movement keeps the audience's attention well. But with all this,
something is very wrong with SOAPDISH: It isn't all that funny.
The comic timing of the actors varies, from splendid (Goldberg and Marshall) to disastrous (the miscast Downey, who consistently seems to find himself much funnier than we do). And then there really aren't many good jokes in the film. But more fundamentally, its subject for satire isn't all that
clever. The public already believes that actors are egotistical and neurotic; why should we be surprised and tickled to see them dished on screen?
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Celeste Talbert (Sally Field) is the reigning queen of soap opera, the lead in a mawkish program called "The Sun Also Sets." One of her spiteful co-stars, Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty), is seducing David Barnes (Robert Downey, Jr.), the show's executi… (more)