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"Meet Wally Sparks" is a screwball comedy in the vein of an Adam Sandler
vehicle or latter-day "National Lampoon" movie. Sure, it's dumb. Sure,
it's cheap. Sure, there's no Palm D'Or award sitting on the director's
shelf. But some movies are not destined for accolades or AFI lists or
anything above the $8.99-and-under used video rack at Blockbuster.
This movie has a drunken horse, three Southern ladies (one of them Cindy Williams) dancing in their skivvies to "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On", a fight between Sumo wrestlers and WWF stars, and Tony Danza reprising his role as Tony from "Taxi" doing a Rodney Dangerfield impression. Oh, and lest it be overlooked, RODNEY FRIGGIN' DANGERFIELD.
Come on. It's goofy, it's fun, it doesn't cost more than the price of a pack of cigarettes to own. Rodney and Oscar may not mix, but live-action cartoons and Rodney go pretty well together.
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield took on the topic of shock TV in Meet Wally
Sparks. A few sparks a generated, but it helps if you have an
appreciation for the Police Academy films to enjoy this film. Which I
Meet Wally Sparks also borrows liberally from the plot of The Man Who Came To Dinner. In this case Dangerfield in the title role becomes the man who stayed at the governor's mansion.
Georgia Governor David Ogden Stiers who slips as neatly into a southern accent as he did a Boston one as Charles Emerson Winchester in MASH is advised that he can score a few cheap political points as a 'family values' candidate by attacking the outrageous talk show host Wally Sparks. Which gets a response from Sparks for Stiers to guest on his show and explain his objections.
Then Stiers's son Glenn Walker Harris, Jr. steals an invite to a campaign fundraiser and sends it to Dangerfield who then comes down to Atlanta and promptly injures himself, necessitating he not be moved from there.
After The Man Who Came To Dinner, the film then digresses into a pale imitation of The Fortune Cookie as it turns out Dangerfield isn't half as hurt as he makes out. All that was missing was Walter Matthau threatening to sue to the state of Georgia. Talk about deep pockets.
The humor is pretty crude, not unlike what you see on these shows. But it's actually done with a gentle hand. There were some lost opportunities in this film to make some valid points. As did those two other far better satirical films which Meet Wally Sparks liberally borrowed from.
Still fans of the late Rodney Dangerfeld will respect the film and will some others, just not enough.
Poor Rodney Dangerfield. The man was a comic legend who seemed to do
everything right when it came to stand-up comedy. The guy not only made
a name for himself later in life, becoming a household name while in
his mid-50's, but he also mentored future big name comedians including
Jim Carrey, Sam Kinison, Bob Saget, Roseanne, Tim Allen, and many
others. For a while, it seemed like he could be great in movies, too.
"Caddyshack" (1980) is still a comedy classic, while "Easy Money"
(1983) and "Back To School" (1986) showed he could headline a movie
successfully as well.
Although "Ladybugs" (1992) was not a perfect movie, it still had its laughs. Then came "Meet Wally Sparks" (1997), Rodney's final theatrically-released movie in which he had a starring role (thereby excluding his chilling supporting role in "Natural Born Killers" (1994), and a strong cameo in "Little Nicky" (2000)). Dangerfield would have many more bad movies to come ("The Godson" (1999), "Back By Midnight" (2002)), but all of those would go straight to video.
It is amazing that "Meet Wally Sparks" did not go directly to video upon its release, because it is void of laughs (even from Mr. No Respect himself), its jokes and physical gags are almost always predictable, its characters are carbon copied from better movies, and its plot is completely all over the place.
So who is Wally Sparks? As you find in the first five minutes of the film, he is a talk show host similar to Jerry Springer and Sally Jesse Raphael (both of whom cameo as themselves in this movie). His on-air antics violate many FCC regulations, causing sponsors to pull their advertising. TV network owner Lenny Spencer (Burt Reynolds, sporting a ridiculous-looking toupee that served as a missed joke opportunity for Dangerfield) seriously considers pulling the plug on the controversial show, but Sparks' producer Sandy Gallo (Debi Mazar, best known as Ray Liotta's coke-addicted mistress in "Goodfellas" (1990)) makes a last ditch effort to save their careers. She plans on having Sparks tape his show from the house of his most staunch critic, Georgia governor Floyd Preston (David Ogden Stiers), while also staying at his house.
In a contrived plot point that is not very well executed, Governor Preston is advised not to simply kick Sparks out of his house because the poll numbers for his U.S. Senate campaign suggest that Sparks' presence will give him a better chance of winning his upcoming election. With Sparks continuing to scrape the bottom of the barrel by inviting guests on his show ranging from porn stars to steroid-induced professional wrestlers, hilarity ensues in the Governor's mansion. Or does it?
The answer is no. "Meet Wally Sparks" is a prime example of a movie that, through outrageous physical gags, tries way too hard to be funny. Dangerfield's one-liners also feel weak and incredibly forced. When he rides a drunken horse into a cocktail party held by Gov. Preston, he actually says, "Hey, quit horsing around!" All I could do was sigh, and wish that Bill Murray would appear chasing a gopher.
Of course, Murray doesn't make an appearance in this movie. Instead, we have a barrage of useless celebrity cameos. Most of them are by real talk show hosts, and A-list stand-up comedians appear as well. Perhaps the least impressive cameo was by Michael Bolton, who loves Wally Sparks' show so much that he sings a song and dedicates it to him. Who made this movie and thought a cameo by such a second-rate adult contemporary artist would benefit this movie? On the other hand, not even appearances by celebrities who actually do have talent, such as Jay Leno and Tim Allen, succeeded in bringing any more laughs.
In the midst of the predictable humor and wasted cameos, the plot was all over the place. The fact that Wally Sparks is a controversial talk show host would have brought enough laughs if it was incorporated into a story that spoofed the talk show trend of the 1990's. Before reality shows, celebrities were all about having their own talk shows. There could have been some way to parody that TV trend.
Instead, we get a mess of a story involving a politician who is less concerned with improving the budget of his state, and instead wastes his time fighting against a show clearly protected by the First Amendment. There are also complicated subplots involving a love story between Sparks' son and Gov. Preston's daughter, Sparks himself pretending to be paralyzed, a conspiracy over a theme park being built over a Civil War battle ground, and a hoax sex scandal that potentially jeopardizes Preston's hopes of being elected Senator.
The movie feels too long at 105 minutes, primarily because the subplots throw off the pace of the story. After only an hour, I wanted this film done because I didn't care about any of the characters. I just wanted the last hour of my life back.
Rodney Dangerfield is still one of the greatest stand-up comedians ever. It's just too bad that he never made a funny film after "Back To School". The fact that he co-wrote the screenplay to this movie does not help his legacy. He made a wise move by not appearing in "Caddyshack II" (1987), but somehow his fate with future movies was not as well-thought- out.
i thought it was a funny movie,and a few scenes were very funny. it's never boring or stupid. there are a few,and i do mean few scenes that are unfunny,but not stupid. the plot holes are the only thing that keeps this movie from a bulls-eye,but it still has a number of laughs. i give meet wally sparks **1/2 out of ****
Rodney said, promoting his movie, when people write movies they think
they're writing "Gone with the Wind." This movie is FAR from "Gone with the
Wind," but if you're as much as a fan of Rodney as I am--and who doesn't
love him?--you will have a great time! I can't understand why this movie
didn't fare well at the box office. When I went to see it, there were only
a few people, but the few that were in there were laughing hysterically! I
saw it twice in theaters, and the second audience was doing the same!
Especially the statue-penis scene. I think that has to one of the funniest
moments ever captured on film and that really brought the house down! Of
course, expect to see a chock full of Rodney one-liners, including: "We now
come to a part of the show called 'It's Hard to Believe.' Or as my wife
used to say..."I can't believe it's hard" and "The problem with me is I'm
sitting on top of the world, and I've got hemmerhoids!" I'm not going to
give away the rest of the lines, because that would be sinful. The gags are
absolutely priceless! Sure, this is another outrageous comedy with the plot
structure of a TV sitcom, but with Rodney in the front seat--How can you
possibly go wrong? Also, keep your eye out for cameos by numerous talk show
hosts and a special appearance by Burt Reynolds in one of his worst
My score: 8 (out of 10)
I am a huge fan of Rodney and thought this movie was hysterically
funny!!! Trust me anyone who enjoys Rodney Dangerfield humour will LOVE
this flick!!! If you didn't like it the first time (and you are a
Rodney fan), Trust me watch it again, it's even better the 2nd time
around!!! His one-liners were originally crude & FUNNY!!! Quote: I am
here to spread Joy, if I can find her?
Many many cameo appearances from celebrities and movie stars (from Michal Bolton to Bert Reynolds to porn king Ron Jeremy) adds to this enjoyable flick!
Definitely recommend for all Rodney fans!!!
A lot of energy was put into this movie. Dangerfield has some funny
one-liners, but a lot of them are not funny, or you'll guess before he
utters them. The plot is alternately meandering or frozen for long periods
of time. (And the plot should have stayed at the talk show subject, not some
dumb plot about Dangerfield crashing a govenor's pad.) Replay the climatic
interview scene after watching it once - you'll see that some of
Dangerfield's actions don't make that much sense. Also, see how many times
the director shoots Dangerfield from the neck down - obviously, it's a stunt
A memo to Burt Reynolds: don't wear that particular toupee again.
Dangerfield fans, Rodney has returned in a new comedy that doesn't disappoint, one bit. Although this bombed at the cinema, I found this whole affair funny, smartly comical, if original too as this time our bulging eyed Rodney takes the p..s out of talk show hosts. He, Wally Sparks, is a no holds barred t.v. host, who's show is up for anything, including people getting their face pulverized by sledgehammers or walking on glass. His one nemesis, is this Governor (the wonderful David Ogden Steers). His warring young son, secretly invites his number one fan and idol, to a party at his father's mansion, and here is where things heat up, where Rodney and his female assistant (Mazar) stumble onto a sex scandal, involving a struggling actress hottie, who, yeah, doesn't believe in "cheap sex". Again, we get to watch Dangerfield go completely crass, and over the top, where the laughs come thick and fast. He even takes the mickey out a familiar Risky Business scene, this time instigated by strip poker. MWS is a very funny movie, as this is how we like seeing Rodney, and we would have it mo other way. Burt Reynolds, solid, has a small part as Wally's longtime boss/friend at the t.v. station, threatening to shut him down, after many complaints. Reynolds has a "toad" of an assistant, a suck up Police Academy Proctor type, who goes out there to expose Sparks, but always ends up with egg on his face. The whole film is one hell of a riotous comedy, fittingly appreciative and refreshing, after the five year span of his last pic, 92's Ladybugs. A male Showgirl's face is evident too as a backstabbing judge, a fine actor in fine form. Seriously, if you're a devout Dangerfield fan, you should find this film a hoot. There's also an underlined message, about fatherly love gone astray. Ron Jeremy appears briefly, doing what he does best, this time, seen on a small screen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I was growing up, I used to like Rodney Dangerfield when he would
appear on shows like "The Ed Sullivan Show"; of course, my grandparents
(with whom I lived) hated him. Later, when he showed up on "The Dean
Martin Show" fairly often, I still liked him. And there were a few
pretty good and funny movies he made (e.g., "Easy Money").
But when we get to "Meet Wally Sparks"...well, I'd say it was a total waste of celluloid, but of course they don't make film on celluloid nowadays. So I'll summarize by saying it is one of the DUMBEST movies I should have never watched,
First, sorry to say, but Rodney was so old when this film was made that he couldn't really walk or move right. Time to retire.
Second, scene after scene is nothing more than a litany of vulgar jokes that are totally low class.
Third, the story, which had some potential, was handled so poorly that it ruined it. It's as if the producer and director said, "Just keep filling up the script with vulgar jokes and scenes. Wde'll make money off the raunch crowd."
Finally, shame on Debi Mazar, Burt Reynolds, David Ogden Stiers, and Cindy Williams for appearing in such a really dumb movie.
I suppose ultra hardcore fans of Dangerfield will like this, but my advice is don't waste your time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Meet Wally Sparks (1997): Dir: Peter Baldwin / Cast: Rodney Dangerfield, David Ogden Stiers, Debi Mazar, Burt Reynolds, Cindy Williams: Misfire comedy about controversy and the media. Wally Sparks is a talk show host working as a mouth piece for issues that offend the general population. His show invites protests from the governor. A drunken incident at the governor's banquet has him shacked up faking a leg injury. Against the governor's wishes he airs a show in the mansion and overhears a scam against the governor and aims to sets things right. An interesting idea reduced to sitcom and a mindless climax. Director Peter Baldwin lends too much emphasis on close-ups and reactions. Rodney Dangerfield is the right comedian for this material with the exception of the violent climax that involves one-liners. David Ogden Stiers is wasted as the governor. It is obvious that he will see Sparks as a hero in the end. Also featuring flat performances by Debi Mazar as Wally's adviser, and Burt Reynolds whom cautions Sparks and gets nowhere. Cindy Williams also makes an appearance as the governor's wife. Potential theme reduced to formula but that is the least of the film's problems. It is as cheap as Wally's disguises when he ventures outside to see his son. Basically a vehicle for Dangerfield but even that is not enough to make anyone want to meet Wally Sparks. Score: 4 ½ / 10
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