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A television network is making a pilot of Mike's quirky comedy based on the aftermath of his brother's suicide. As the network suits ask for change after change, and as Mike struggles with compromise, there are strains on families, execs who show rushes to their children, leads who feel each other out, and assistants who put a smile on everything. Can an honest show get made in the world of reality TV chasing an audience of teen-aged boys? Written by
This movie is for those of us sorry schmucks who have worked our hearts & brains to the bone, only to be told by some soulless corporate suit that our creative efforts are not required.
What, me bitter?
"The TV Set" is a great comedy/drama about a writer who realizes his 1 shot at success requires him to sell out to mediocrity. This paradox leads to some great acidic fun. The movie gets its power from a great script as could only be conceived by a person (writer/director Jake Kasdan) who has seen the spectacle in real life. It builds momentum through brilliant acting, as could only be pulled off by actors who've lived the nightmare in real life. Presented with moments of riotous satire (stick around after the credits to see a scene from the network's golden egg, "Slut Wars"), the humor is spot-on with great deadpan deliveries all around.
I don't usually harp on a film's casting, but in this case it was flawless, from the smallest roles (loved the wardrobe lady!) all the way up to Sigourney Weaver as the "soulless suit" who massacres the script, much to the applause of her corporate toadies.
INTERESTING TRIVIA: Sigourney's character "Lenny" was originally written for a man. But due to late scheduling problems they gave it to Sigourney. She insisted that no changes be made to her lines, and even the male name "Lenny" was kept. The result is possibly the funniest clueless exec you've ever seen. Pay attention to her, as almost every one if her lines is classic, such as: "This is not just an opinion here! We have the research from other shows. Suicide is, like, depressing to 82% of all people."
Omg I had to rewind that one and play it again to get the laughs out.
I will warn you, though, I wouldn't call this "uproarious" the way the DVD box advertises (I'm sure some corporate suit came up with that marketing angle). No, like any good satire, its power is in subtlety. No wisecracking punchlines, no slapstick pratfalls, no fart gags. Well OK, 1 fart gag, but you'll agree it really punctuates the point.
Jake Kasdan, himself a veteran of many ill-fated TV pilots, gives us a film that very few can claim to be: an honest & mercilessly uncompromising joyride til the end. It reminded me of the brilliant Christopher Guest satires of the entertainment industry: "Waiting for Guffman", "For Your Consideration", "Best in Show", and the king of them all: "This is Spinal Tap".
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