This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stay Tuned (1992)

"Boy, this is strange!"
"Strange? I'm an animated rodent wearing high-heel running shoes. The word 'strange' is somehow lacking."
-Roy and Helen Knable.

Today is my sister's birthday, so I've decided to take a look at one of her favorite films. She and I are both fans of the great John Ritter. I was working at Borders when we got the news that he unexpectedly passed in 2003. Not long afterward, my sister asked me if I could get a DVD of Stay Tuned, which we had seen a few years earlier. It didn't take me long to get a copy for her.

In this film, Ritter plays Roy Knable, a Seattle man who, when not unhappily working as a salesman, passes the time by simply watching TV of all kinds, whether it's sporting events, soap operas, or just a good old action film. This time in front of the TV begins to anger his wife Helen (Pam Dawber), although their kids Diane (Heather McComb) and Darryl (David Tom), who also narrates the film, don't seem as neglected.

Soon after Helen smashes the TV, Roy is visited by the mysterious Mr. Spike (Jeffrey Jones), who gives Roy an up-to-date satellite system with 666 channels and programming such as Three Men and Rosemary's Baby, Northern Overexposure and My Three Sons of Bitches. When Helen sees the new system, she attempts to leave Roy before the systems satellite dish sucks them both into Hell Vision, which is basically TV hell.

Their first stop is a game show where the penalty for giving the wrong answer is death. After surviving that, they encounter Spike's former employee Crowley (Eugene Levy), who informs them that Spike arranges for souls to be killed in this world, but that they can leave if they survive for 24 hours.

As Roy and Helen go through various programs such as Duane's Underworld (which is much funnier than Mike Myers's 2008 film The Love Guru), Darryl and Diane (who were both out when Roy and Helen vanished) learn that their parents are prisoners of TV and manage to help them from the outside.

This leads to Spike honoring his contract with Roy by returning him home but not Helen, as she did not sign any contract. Roy, armed with his own remote control, save Helen in the western setting Spike trapped her in and goes through scenarios involving Star Trek: The Next Generation (prompting Roy to go "Holy Shatner!") and, the perfect in-joke for this film, Three's Company (although it'd have been nice if there had been a similar nod at Mork & Mindy), before he and Helen come home, leaving Spike and the mercy of their neighbors' mean dog, who got sucked into Hell Vision after the Knables returned.

The whole cast is pleasant and the TV scenarios are fun, but, hands down, the best moment of this film is the sequence where Roy and Helen are cartoon mice being chased by a robotic cat. The sequence, animated by Looney Tunes legend Chuck Jones, makes one wish that more of the film could have built around it.