Both Eric Bogosian, who stars, and Oliver Stone, who directs, wrote Talk Radio for the screen. Talk Radio had first been a stage play written by Bogosian, and many of the same actors from the play appear in the movie. Other notable actors who star include: Alec Baldwin, Ellen Greene, Leslie Hope, John C. McGinley, and Michael Wincott.
Talk Radio is a movie about Barry Champlain (Bogosian), a controversial talk radio host in Dallas, Texas. He mostly makes fun of his callers, harasses or insults them, or just plain pisses them off. However, he gets good ratings, and Metrowave has decided to pick up his show and syndicate it nationally, much to the joy of his boss, Dan (Baldwin), who set everything up. Barry has mixed feelings about this, and calls up his ex-wife, Ellen (Greene), for support and invites her down for the premiere of his first national show. He is also dating his producer, Laura, who is none too happy about this. As his show continues, Barry soon begins to realize that he isn't as loved as he leads himself to believe, after he gets numerous death threats in the mail. Callers are becoming increasingly hostile to him, and Barry soon realizes that the only thing some of his "fans" want is him silenced – permanently.
To me, Talk Radio was a mixed bag. I thought the performances were great: Bogosian especially does a great job as Barry, and he carries the whole film. The story was also well developed; the flashback scene in the middle of the film was interesting, and really helped define the character of Barry. However, the character of Barry turned me off at some points, as he is genuinely not a nice guy and he says some pretty offensive stuff. I realize that is part of the movie: you're not supposed to like Barry. I think they went a bit overboard, though. Overall, the movie is pretty good, but it won't be something I revisit anytime soon.
Talk Radio is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. There are a lot of minor problems that I detected in the transfer, including: some minimal grain, a slight flickering during the opening, and a few marks. The picture does seem a bit on the soft side, and the blacks aren't as rich as they could have been. Flesh tones are natural and colors are well saturated though. Overall, it is a very good effort from Universal for a film twelve years old.
Talk Radio is presented in Dolby Surround 2.0. Surrounds are modestly used throughout the film for the score, people talking off camera, doors closing, etc. Nothing that will blow you away, but fine, considering that this is a dialogue driven movie. The dialogue is crisp and clean throughout the film with no distortion.
Easily the weakest part of the disc, Talk Radio only includes some production notes, eight cast and crew biographies, a recommendation for Born on the Fourth of July, and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Talk Radio is a movie that certainly will not appeal to everyone due to its often controversial and offensive nature. But it is a movie that's at least worth checking out as a rental if you're a fan of Oliver Stone or the actors involved. Universal has really come through with the picture and sound quality on this disc; if only they would have devoted a bit more to the extras. Still, Talk Radio comes Recommended.