- Classic Devito 1/20/2005 12:00:00 AM by oxblood
Hilarious movie reminiscent of Mad TV and SNL mock TV shows. First saw this on cable in the 80s and fell off my chair laughing. This is the kind of stuff Danny Devito does best. Dark, sarcastic humor.
Struggling producer Vic de Salvo (Devito) hatches a scheme to become a big TV star by creating and staring in his own shows and selling them to a struggling network. When he meets and falls in love with Francine, (Rhea Perlman) a woman who works for the Neilson Ratings Beaureau, he uses her knowledge to kidnap the Neilson families and send his mobster crew to "house-sit" for them and tune into his shows.
The mock shows are hilarious and I swear some of them are actually templates for shows that were minor hits later on. This reminds me a little of "Stay Tuned". Well worth a look, though slightly dated. Future "Cheers" stars, Perlman and George Wendt and an early look at Michael Richards ("Seinfeld"'s Kramer).
- "At least she didn't torch my warehouse. Some of them get nuts." 8/11/2020 12:00:00 AM by Hey_Sweden
Veteran actor Danny DeVito here does a creditable job of directing what is a pretty clever skewering of the television industry. Vic De Salvo (DeVito) has had tremendous success in the trucking business, only now he's moved to L.A., and he has his heart set on attaining fame and fortune as a T.V. producer / star. His truly awful sitcom idea ends up becoming a huge hit after he's conspired with his girlfriend (played by DeVito's real-life significant other, Rhea Perlman) to manipulate the ratings system.
For this viewer, 'The Ratings Game' didn't necessarily generate any true belly laughs, but it's still an intelligent, amusing piece of work. DeVito displays his typical comic energy playing this shameless, unapologetic scoundrel, and milks the Jim Mulholland / Michael Barrie script for everything that it's worth. What's more, the romance between Vic and Francine is actually quite appealing, with the two stars unsurprisingly showing off real chemistry. (Francine is a notable contrast to Carla Tortelli, Ms. Perlmans' best-known TV character.). And Vic is the kind of guy whom you can't help but like, despite his shadiness. The phoney sitcoms he has devised are a hoot in their tackiness; to be fair, they probably wouldn't be much worse than some actual sitcoms that have made it to air in real life. DeVito's storytelling skills are solid, as well as his pacing. At no point do you feel that he's just marking time.
What's truly impressive is the cast that DeVito and casting director Marci Liroff assembled for this thing. There's a non-stop parade of familiar faces: established stars, stars-to-be, and many top character actors.
This landmark TV movie (one of the earliest made for cable TV) doesn't seem to be that well-remembered 36 years later, but discerning viewers will find it to be well worth their time.
Eight out of 10.
- It's a dog, but it's a cute dog. 3/21/2016 12:00:00 AM by mjcom99
This satire on the TV industry is too much of it, with mountains of cheesy plot-driven dialog set to the accompaniment of hyper-cheesy music. But mixed in are some great gags--one of the best is a sight gag, when Gerrit Graham walks back on stage at the MBC confab, to continue plumping his network's new shows against a devilishly appropriate freeze-frame from one of them. Much of the value now is to have fun seeing all kinds of talent before, between, or after the high points of their careers. Casting wise, this show could pick 'em.
The strongest element here is the apt satire. Alas, the laughs are not frequent enough, or intense enough, to really sustain the effort. The movie in the end is a cheese dog, but the stars play it cute, and it's fun. Five stars for wide and deep star power, far transcending the script.