Judge Patrick Naugle hearts Chevy Chase, but does not heart Deal of the Century
Chevy Chase and his partners are arms dealers.
Chevy Chase stars as Eddie Muntz, a smooth talking arms dealer who works the black market. After a potential sale turns against him, Eddie flees to his hotel room only to find a disgruntled, suicidal salesman, Harold (Wallace Shawn), who works for the US based Luckup Corporation. Harold kills himself and practically lays a new opportunity into Eddie's lap, a multi-million dollar deal that Eddie must pawn off on a local dictator. With a wacky partner (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) who has just found God, as well as Harold's grieving, sexy widow (Sigourney Weaver, Aliens) at his side, Eddie must attempt to make the deal of…a lifetime.
Get ready for very mild laughs and lots of ammo in a movie that definitely is not the Deal of the Century.
I've often lamented about the covers of old VHS movies while perusing through Blockbuster in my yesteryears. When I was a kid there were many a movie that I'd never seen, yet I knew the video boxes well. The Evil Dead—sporting a lady clawing her way from a grave while a hand tries to pull her back under—has always stuck with me as a chilling image. So has the cover to the '80s flick Hot Dog: The Movie, featuring nubile, curvaceous ski bunnies soaking in a hot tub (I wonder if the words "Hot Dog" were supposed to be symbolism…). And then there's Deal of the Century, plastered with Chevy Chase's mug giving a big thumbs up next to Gregory Hines and Sigourney Weaver. Whenever I see that box art I'm instantly taken back to my childhood.
I bring the above thoughts up not because they're really relevant to the review, but because, sadly, they are far more interesting than Deal of the Century, one of Chase's most disappointing forays from the 1980s. The movie has to do with arms dealers—something that is actually pretty topical for 2005—but doesn't give them anything to do. Chevy Chase the actor plays a variation on Chevy Chase the character, but to a lesser effect than his other films (the only consolation is that two years later he'd make the seminal classic Fletch for director Michael Ritchie). This is by far one of Chevy Chase's worst movies, and I've seen Cops & Robbersons. Twice.
Deal of the Century was directed by William Friedkin, who has had a very odd Hollywood career. He has found success in horror (The Exorcist) and action (The French Connection), and has dabbled in dramatic erotica (Jade), sports (Blue Chips), and with 1983's Deal of the Century, comedy. I think it is safe to say that Friedkin's talents do not lie in laughter. If Deal of the Century is the best he can do, Friedkin should really stick with head spinning, pea soup spewing demons.
Sigourney Weaver and Gregory Hines walk through their roles with only a modicum of interest—Weaver especially seems to be in the film mostly only as occasional eye candy. The goofy Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride) pops up as Weaver's on-screen hubby, babbling like a madman about a lost arms contract, then quickly (and wisely) leaves the film. Friedkin stages a lot of semi-interesting scenes, but they tend to lag and become stagnant; either Deal of the Century needed to be a serious movie about arms dealers or just an out-and-out slapstick comedy. As it is, the film is somewhere in-between. The comedy never works hard enough to gain laughs (example: we're supposed to laugh when Eddie turns the tables on a would-be mugger by pulling out a bigger gun) or the story starts to lag with too much exposition and an overly complicated plot.
Like a hand grenade assembled by a blind man with six fingers, Deal of the Century is a complete dud.
Deal of the Century is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner has done a fine job of making sure this transfer is clean, crisp and in good shape (all things considered). The film is now well over twenty years old, so don't expect it to look like Peter Jackson's King Kong—it's got a small amount of grain in it (at times), and the colors sometimes appear washed and muted. Overall it's a decent effort from Warner, and I'm sure Chase fans will be glad to get Deal of the Century in its original widescreen format.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English. This sound mix is only passable at best—though everything is clearly heard and recorded, overall the mix is flat and very uninspired. Considering this is a comedy from the early '80s I wasn't expecting much and, fittingly, I didn't get much. Also included on this disc are English, Spanish and French subtitles, as well as a Dolby 1.0 Mono sound mix in French.
Deal of the Century is a bare bones release, save for a single anamorphic theatrical trailer for the film.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Theatrical Trailer
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