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SOAPDISH (1991) - PG13
Chaos reigns supreme on the set of a popular TV soap opera. When long reigning queen of soaps, Celeste Talbert, comes into competition with upcoming soap beauty, Montana Morrehead, the latter teams up with show's producer to try and write her out of the series. But when Celeste's old flame re-appears onscreen, things get interesting since, it was Celeste's idea to fire him 20 years earlier, and, since, Montana is desperately awaiting for Celeste's celebrity status to fade away to nothing more than a blip on a map.
Director Michael Hoffman's "Soapdish" is a broad but funny comedy.
The basic story tells of the behind the scene antics at a popular soap opera. The trouble starts when an ambitious actress, Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarity) on a popular soap opera, "The Sun Also Rises," makes plans with the show's executive producer, David Seton Barnes (Robert Downing) to conspire to get rid of the show's leading actress, Celeste Talbert (Sally Field), but nothing works out as they have planned.
Trying to get the public against this leading actress by having her kill a homeless woman, Angelique, backfires, as the homeless woman turns out to be Celeste's niece, Lori Craven (Elisabeth Shue), and becomes a series regular. When the Celeste's former leading man/boyfriend, Jeffrey Anderson (Kevin Kline), that she had fired from the show 20 years ago, is recruited by David himself, to return to the soap opera, after a stint doing dinner theater in Florida, the comedic sparks fly, things get sticky and complicated, resulting in hilarious consequences, as it becomes like a soap opera behind the scenes, with secrets coming out of the closet, much better than anything written for the show.
The hilarious screenplay, "a top notch farce" by Robert Harling, gives this talented cast a lot of great material to work with, as it humorously explores the various greedy, self-centered, envious, jealous,flawed natures of these very human people, and all the trouble they get themselves into because of their actions. However, their better selves overcome for the good in the end, despite these personal weaknesses.
The direction, by Michael Hoffman, also keeps the film's pacing at a great clip, and brings out the best performances of this stellar cast.
Sally Field has fun with the role of the aging, but still popular, leading actress of the soap. In a way she's poking fun of her own image, and that's part of the fun. Her over the top performance really punches the hilarity in the script.
Kevin Kline does a superb job as an actor, Jeffrey Anderson, who is determined to make good this second chance at stardom, while getting back at Celeste at the same time. His feelings for revenge, are transformed as the plot develops, because he discovers that he still loves Celeste.
My favorite scene involves Kevin Kline, attempting to perform, "Death of a Salesman," in a noisy dinner theater, in Florida. The scene is hilarious, and a bit pathetic, at the same time.
Kevin Kline and Sally Field sparkle together on screen. There are many funny scenes with these two,as they explore the mixed feelings that they have for each other, and then have to deal with a bombshell that comes popping out of the closet, on live TV yet!
Viewers may enjoy Elisabeth Shue's performance as an actress, new to the soap opera. It is amazing how fast her character changes from being a grateful young actress to prima donna, when she becomes a big hit. Shue shows a lot of changes in her character flawlessly, and was well-cast for the part. Shue received much critical acclaim, and an Oscar nomination, for her performance, opposite Nicolas Cage, in "Leaving Las Vegas."
Robert Downing and Cathy Moriarity make a great couple of conspirators, playing very well off each other perfectly.
Whoopi Goldberg (Rose) shines as the show's writer, who is also great friends and a strong defender of Celeste, looking out for her when she can.
Kathy Najimy gives a very funny performance as Celeste Talbert's "beleaguered costumer."
The film benefits from a sharp script and you DON'T have to be a soap opera fan to enjoy "Soapdish."
Soapdish is rated PG -13.