Directed by Michael Hoffman
Written by Robert Harling (story & screenplay) and Andrew Bergman (screenplay)
Starring Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr., Cathy Moriarty, Elisabeth Shue, Whoopi Goldberg, Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall, Teri Hatcher, Kathy Najimy
There’s a thin line between soap opera and farce. The daytime drama is an easy target for humor and satire, with its reputation for overwrought emotions and weird plot twists. Soapdish was an attempt to play it all for laughs, and the result was one of the better comedies of the 90s.
The movie takes place on the set of the long running soap opera, The Sun Also Sets, whose star, Celeste Talbert (Sally Field) has a reputation as being “America’s Sweetheart.” But co-star Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty) wants to take her place, even seducing the producer David Barnes (Robert Downey, Jr.) to make it happen. Barnes gets head writer Rose Schwartz (Whoopi Goldberg) to rewrite the script to bring back actor Jeffrey Anderson (Kevin Kline), who was kicked off the show by Celeste many years ago. Part of that involves the introduction of a new character, played by Lori Craven (Elisabeth Shue), who adds more tension to the set.
The movie is a soap opera played for laughs; the off-stage antics of the actors parallels the outrageous plotting of the show within a show. Secrets and relationships are revealed, all with a great amount of delicious overacting. Much like in 20th Century, the actors soap opera play the roles they think they’re cast in.
Everyone is having a delicious time. Kevin Kline was always great in farce, and this rivals his role in A Fish Called Wanda. Sally Field shows that she can handle broad comedy, and Cathy Moriarty is always fun to watch.
The movie did adequately on the box office, but was not a breakout hit. Still, if you appreciate a silly farce on the tropes of soap opera, Soapdish is a treat.