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The One-Line Summary: On the long-running and popular daytime drama The Sun Also Sets, twenty year series star Celeste Talbert (Sally Field) finds herself under pressure to keep her job when sniveling, sneaky co-star Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty) offers sexual favors to producer David Seton Barnes (Robert Downey Jr.) if he writes Celeste out, prompting his hiring of young Lori Craven (Elisabeth Shue) to play a destitute deaf-mute for Celeste to kill off and then be hated by the audience, though that all changes when Celeste recognizes the girl to be her real-life niece, or so she says.
The Two-Line Blurb: A screwball comedy with a large ensemble cast, Soapdish (directed by Michael Hoffman) pokes jabs at network television and the soap opera shows that once ruled the airwaves, with a wildly kinetic script that barely slows down to catch its breath, as the remarkable troupe of actors keeps it zipping along like popcorn popper turned up to eleven. This is most especially true of Fields, Whoopi Goldberg, and the painfully funny Kevin Kline, whose character, years before, had a relationship with Celeste that went bad, which led to her having him killed off the show, and makes for bringing him back a stretch for the writers but a delight for him in hopes of getting some revenge.
The Three-Line Set-up: The moment is about telling a hidden truth, and starts with Jeffrey Anderson (Kline) taking to his reinstated role with great enthusiasm, enjoying the opportunities for digs at his former lover, Celeste, who is beside herself with outward disgust at him but harboring an inner ache to have him back. He’s been reduced to doing dinner theater for retirees in Florida and holds a bitter grudge that he intends to exploit to ruin Celeste. Meanwhile, the naive Lori gets caught in the middle as her character gains more screen time and is written to be a wedge between the two stars.
The Four-Line Moment: There are two sides to the moment of course as Head Writer Rose (Goldberg) works to keep Celeste on the show while Barns and Moorehead connive to get her tossed. But when a scene is written and being filmed where Jeffrey, playing Dr. Rod Randall becomes attracted to Lori and the two are meant to kiss, Celeste almost breaks character, and in a wild fit, pounces on him to prevent them from becoming intimate. Undaunted, Lori and Jeffrey take their positions to try again, when Celeste, held back by Rose and an extra, weeps that Lori is not her niece but actually her and Jeffrey’s daughter. It’s a chaotic moment that reveals much about the film’s style and playful, spinning plates momentum.
The Five-Word Review: Kevin Kline steals the show.