Sunday, May 9, 2010
Open another window or tab and add The Deal (2008) starring (and co-written by) William H. Macy to your Netflix queue right now! I mean it! I'll wait here. Hmmm...ladedadedudumdum
...lalalala...Oh, good, you're back.
This is the funniest, most exhilarating, cynical yet hopeful low-comedy satirical romances I've seen in a long time. Even though the film debuted at Sundance to enthusiastic audiences, the producers were unable to get theatrical distribution that made economic sense. [Meanwhile a wretched thing called Chloe just hung around my neighborhood theater for a month attracting flies.] All of this is a long way of saying that although the film was a direct-to-DVD release, it's a first-rate film.
Based on, and fairly closely following an insider-written novel about Hollywood, the story offers the lesson that the best way to succeed is to stop caring. (In this way, it echoes the immortal Office Space.) Failure coupled with momentum is the true path to success.
As I've said here, I'm not trying to run a review site, so I won't recite the story or the excellent comedy cast (except to mention that it is night to see a woman of Meg Ryan showing that she, like Diane Lane, can play her own age and still be very sexy). I find myself hard put to discuss the cinematic style--in this type of fast-moving acerbic comedy, in the school of Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder, the craftsmanship is simple and unobtrusive. These films are all script and performance, both of which are top-notch.
The only other thing I can think to say is that this the only film ever to accurately demonstrate exactly what a producer does. Most movie producers in films are uncultured morons, cutting budgets, hiring relatives, spouting moviebabble that they don't understand. Macy's sharp producer has learned from the school of William Goldman that Nobody Knows Anything and from Woodward and Bernstein to Follow The Money. Keep your head down, cash the checks and keep moving.
Seriously--if you really like movies, see this one.