Individually, I really love peanut butter, pork fried rice, and chocolate pudding cups.
Try and mix 'em all into one meal, however, and we're talking puke city.
Individually, I've always loved Chevy Chase, Sigourney Weaver, and director William Friedkin.
Try and mix 'em all together and you get Deal of the Century, which is just about as close as you can get to cinematic puke city without buying a map.
Released at the most manic moment of Reaganomical tyranny, Deal of the Century aims to be a smart, insightful, and brazen satire on the global arms arena. To say the flick fails on all levels would be an understatement. This flick fails on sub-levels, sewer levels, and within the white hot magma that lives within Earth's center.
Chevy Chase plays the same old wise-ass he played in Caddyshack, Seems Like Old Times, and Fletch, only this time around he's meant to be an arms dealer named Eddie Muntz. Through a series of events that could only be adequately explained by perhaps the screenwriter and (maybe) the director, Eddie's come into possession of a fleet of high-tech pilot-less super-jets, which he happily plans to sell to the highest foreign bidder. Along for the ride are his best pal Ray (Gregory Hines) and a soon-to-be-thawed ice-queen (Sigourney Weaver).
The targets here seem to be the American war machine, as well as the governmental policies that allow other nations to acquire the weaponry required to cause us some stress. Or something like that, because Friedkin directs comedy like Stevie Wonder directs traffic. What could have been a sly and venomous satire on the Reagan era arms race turns out to be a series of painfully broad and obvious swipes. (American planes are faulty! Other nations are war-mongering savages! Now let's end the thing with a bunch of explosions and pretend we made one single point amidst all the rubble!) Yuck.
Although the screenplay was credited to Paul Brickman, I find it tough to believe that the guy who wrote Risky Business and Men Don't Leave could have been responsible for the atrocious voice-over narration, Mr. Chase's frequent (and aggressively unfunny) slyboy quips, or a storyline so disjointed that it approaches surrealism. A bad screenplay is painful enough, but combined with Friedkin's cluelessly ham-fisted direction and a hodge-podge editorial approach the borders on painful ... Deal of the Century is as unrewarding as it is plain ol' bizarre.
I suspect this is one of those flicks that was overwhelmed by Chevy Chase at the ascent of his stardom. No movie is this intentionally fractured, paper-thin, and laden with incessant narration used to tie the scenes together. Instead of a junior version of Dr. Strangelove, Deal of the Century feels like a once-insightful military comedy that was disemboweled to become a simple "Chevy Chase vehicle."
Regardless of what happened during and after the production of Deal of the Century, there's little denying that the final product is a certifiable mess. The thing careens from slapsticky explosions to wise-ass smuggery to very minute kernels of attempted satire with no rhythm, sense, or energy. It's a deservedly forgotten misfire from a bunch of folks who've done much better work. (Chase went directly from this one to Fletch; Weaver graduated into Ghostbusters territory; Hines went on to White Nights; and Friedkin bounced back with To Live and Die in L.A.)
Video: Anamorphic widescreen "matted" transfer. Picture quality is of the B+ variety, with that reliable ol' fuzziness that seems to live in every movie made during the 1980s.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English or French, with optional subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Just the original Deal of the Century theatrical trailer.
We all have our Chevy Chase guilty pleasures, and if Deal of the Century is one of yours, then I apologize for my savage dismissals. I would have been thrilled to revisit this one and walk away calling it "sadly misunderstood" or "seriously underrated," but the thing's an absolute mess from stem to stern.
Then again, one of my Chevy Chase guilty pleasures is Funny Farm, so what do I know?