Year 2, Day 20 - 1/20/10 - Movie #385
BEFORE: And tonight we're behind the scenes at a soap opera - I've seen "Tootsie" before, and watched "Soapdish" last year, so this will have to do. I wish I had enough movies for a proper John Candy tribute, but I don't...
THE PLOT: A soap opera writer gets hit on the head and wakes up as a character in his own show.
AFTER: It's not Shakespeare, but it's a cute little movie, especially if you're a soap opera fan, and familiar with all of the genre's conventions.
Writer Jack Gable (John Candy) is constantly feuding with the producers of the soap opera "All My Dreams", over the direction of the show and the upcoming storylines. He's got a crush on the lead actress Laura (Emma Samms) and keeps bumping into a woman auditioning for a new character, Janet (Mariel Hemingway).
But when Jack gets knocked out, he "wakes up" in the fictional town of Ashford Falls, amid the familiar characters of the Hedison family and their intricate plots against each other. The characters assume he is mysterious tycoon Jack Gates, a character that Gable was about to introduce into the show's storyline. So he rolls with it, and soon realizes that he is (mostly) in control of the reality that he's fallen into.
When things do go wrong, he assumes that it's the work of a rival screenwriter, so he gets his magic typewriter out, and tries to direct the storyline of the show in favorable ways. But things go wrong again when the "real" Jack Gates (Robert Wagner) shows up in town.
It's sort of the equivalent of a "lucid dream", a fantasy world where the dreamer can alter the reality (or unreality) of his situation. I'm going to take a little break from my biopic/exploration of fame to watch a number of these films. I don't know the exact filmmaking term for movies such as this - it's a convention seen in many films, from "The Wizard of Oz" to "The Matrix". I guess those would be the two extremes of the genre, with Dorothy essentially having no control over her dream, and Neo having near-complete control over the artificial reality.
Also starring Dylan Baker, Raymond Burr, David Rasche, Jerry Orbach (last seen by me in "Mr. Saturday Night") and Renee Taylor (real-life wife of Joseph Bologna from "My Favorite Year") with an uncredited cameo by Margot Kidder.
RATING: 4 out of 10 typewriter ribbons