Thursday, May 22, 2008

Movie Classics: SOAPDISH

Sally Field portrays Celeste Talbert, the long-time star of a popular daytime drama The Sun Also Sets. Sally isn't an academy award winner for nothing, and when it comes to comedy, she is unrivaled. It's all in her delivery, the timing, the voice inflections -- and of course that wonderful crying, which she does a the drop of a hat.

Her pal in the movie is the show's writer Rose Schwartz, played by none othet than Whoopi Goldberg. The show's producer, David Seaton Barnes, is played by Robert Downey, Jr. Supporting player and bombshell Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty) connives to replace Celeste Talbert as the lead, stopping at nothing. She shines in the villainous role, promising sexual favors to the producer.

Terri Hatcher is a member of the soap cast, as well. Dr. Monica Delmonico, I think - and her hair is piled ten inches high in an over-the-top 80's 90's do. Just as skinny as in her Housewives role, but a whole lot younger.

Twenty years previous, Celeste had a falling out with fellow actor and boyfriend Jeffrey Anderson (Kevin Kline), who was discharged at Talbert's request. He is reduced to playing roles such as Willy Loman before crowds of clueless elderly people at a Florida dinner theater. I adore Kevin Kline in roles like this--another fave is frech Kiss--and his melodramatic egomaniacal character is still loveable and vilnerable, because it's Kevin Kline at his best.

Talbert's niece, Lori Craven (Elizabeth Shue) wrangles a role on the The Sun Also Sets as a destitute deaf-mute. The two meet on the set playing a scene where Talbert serves soup to a line of homeless people.

Anderson is called back to the show under dubious circumstances (his character had been decapitated in a motor wreck), to needle Talbert. He and Craven spark up a relationship which Talbert unaccountably finds offensive. It turns out Craven is her daughter by Anderson, not her niece. The ensuing fallout leads to all three actors - Talbert, Craven and Anderson - to demand "They go or I go."

In a climactic conclusion, the actors head into an episode aired live where they must read their lines from a teleprompter. Craven's character is set to die because of Brain Fever. The actors begin to ad-lib when Nurse Nan arrives and suggests a brain transplant. Talbert's character chooses to save Craven via the proposed brain transplant.

A brain transplant?
"I'm the donor! Take my brain!" says Sally Fields' character.

"I don't think you realize how serious this is," replies Kline. "You will not have a brain when it is complete!"

And as actors on the soap opera, they go through with a brain transplant in a restaurant - adlibbing the entire thing. "Sterlize the area!" I can't tell you how many times I've laughed at this movie.

Craven's character speaks at the last minute and requests Talbert not leave the show. Craven chooses to allow Talbert and Anderson be her parents in more than biology. A Dr. Frans Brow, played by Shwartz, from the sex change clinic in Maryland arrives and dictates that Nurse Nan was formerly Milton Morehead of Long Island. The film ends with Craven, Talbert and Anderson winning daytime soap awards, and with Milton Moorehead performing Death of a Salesman at the same dinner theater Anderson performed at earlier in the film.

Warning: Sally drops the F-bomb once in this movie.


  1. Good pick Cheryl! I love when Whoopi is arguing with Robert Downey jr. about how to write back in the character they have previously decapitated.

  2. This is one of my favorite movies...but ya know what--it's so interesting to see Robert Downey Jr now as Iron Man. I think my mouth drops open every time I think about it! not bad at all.