Our review of Delirious, published May 6th, 2008, is also available.
A comedy about a soap opera writer who's typing without a ribbon
There were a lot of premature losses in the 1980s, but none sticks out in my mind as much as comedian John Candy. Candy may not have been the most intelligent or witty comic to grace the silver screen (I don't think any of us will count Nothing But Trouble or Wagons East! as the pinnacle of American humor), but what Candy lacked in grace he made up for in presence. While many of his movies may be considered "dumb" or "stupid," you gotta admit that Candy always gave it his all for the laugh. And hey, give the guy credit—he did star in the belly-busting laugh fests Stripes, Spaceballs and my personal favorite, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In 1991, shortly before his untimely death, Candy lead a semi-all star cast in the Richard Donner produced Delirious. Also starring Mariel Hemingway (Star 80), Raymond Burr (Perry Mason), Emma Samms (Dynasty), and David Rasche (Sledge Hammer!), Delirious comes around to DVD care of MGM Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Jack Gable (Candy) is a writer for "Beyond Our Dreams," one of the hottest soap operas on TV. To Jack's dismay his bosses Lou (Jerry Orbach, Crimes And Misdemeanors) and Arlene Sherwood (the irritating Renee Taylor) are fooling around with Jack's plotlines and shuffling around his characters. Jack is also having problems attaining a romance with Laura (Samms), one of the shows lead actresses. Laura has an on again/off again relationship with Paul (Rasche), the show's leading man. On a disgruntled car ride home, Jack is run off the road into a collision course with destiny! After awakening in the Ashford Falls hospital, Jack realizes that he's not in his world anymore—he's in the very TV show he's been writing! Surrounded by the actors who are now the actual characters, Jack realizes that he can change his (and the show's) future by writing out the script on his trusty typewriter! Through his adventures in Ashford Falls Jack will attempt to woe the "bad girl" Rachel (Samms), thwart the scheming plans of Carter Hedison (Burr) and his two dimwitted sons (Charles Rocket and Dylan Baker), and possibly start a romance with the attractive but accident-prone bug lover Janet (Hemingway).
Oh, the possibilities that Delirious held! Here is a movie that had an interesting idea (writer gets caught in his own cheesy creation) and an unbelievably horrid execution. Delirious screams the early 1990s as loudly as Jesus Jones playing alongside Roxette. From the opening titles (complete with an almost 1985-quality theme) to the slow-mo ending, Delirious is a boring parade of B-level actors from beginning to end. In fact, this film became so tedious that it took me two days just to finish it.
The main trouble Delirious runs into is its PG rating—this means that the movie takes no chances, never becoming risqué or titling. In other words, it's bland. Jack's ability to write his world around him never comes into full fruition. There are a few gleeful moments (I was amused when Candy saved Samms atop of a stallion) and some well delivered dialogue (Raymond Burr and Charles Rocket are given the best lines), though all in all this is a concept that's never fully explored. I was reminded of two different (and better) films utilizing the film's concepts: Bill Murray's stuck-in-a-small-town time warp comedy Groundhog Day and the funnier soap opera spoof Soapdish. In Groundhog Day, the idea of changing your world is much more intelligently written; in Soapdish, the comedy of daytime TV is a lot more biting and fun.
The performances here are all apt, though none of them is really that interesting. Candy tries very hard with his role, a thankless task that requires him to bustle with anger, chuckle with embarrassment, or get bonked on the head by various large objects. As stated, Charles Rocket (Saturday Night Live) as a one-eyed amnesia victim and Raymond Burr as his father are the best things about this cast. David Rasche is a character actor who is always enjoyable to watch, though the script doesn't really give him anything to do. Jerry Orbach, so good in the TV show Law & Order, is given only a small role that doesn't show off his usually great acting chops.
I really wish that I'd have liked Delirious more than I did. John Candy is a funny guy, but much like Chris Farley (the "other" overweight comedian who had a premature death), Candy is only as good as the script around him. If you're interested in checking out some of Candy's better works, rent the above mentioned titles or at the very least The Great Outdoors—any movie sporting Candy attacking a giant bat with a tennis racket can't be all bad.
Delirious is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was more than surprised at how good Delirious looked on DVD. While there are some problems with this transfer (including a fair amount of dirt and some edge enhancement), the bulk of this transfer looks very nice. The colors appear very even and solid (a small amount of bleeding in one scene, but nothing major) and the black levels are well saturated. This may not be a reference quality transfer, but it is much better than the film probably deserved.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English and French, as well as Dolby Mono in Spanish. Nothing exciting to report on this soundtrack—effects are mainly situated in the center speaker with little in the way of directional use on the sides. However, this is a dialogue driven comedy so a new 5.1 remix wasn't warranted. Also included on this disc are subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Not surprisingly, extra features are kept to the bare minimum; the only supplement available on this disc is an anamorphic theatrical trailer for the film.
A good idea gone kaput. Delirious is a very boring comedy that hasn't aged well (some might say the same about Chevy Chase, but I digress…). And this from the same guy who brought us the Lethal Weapon series! MGM has done a decent job on this disc, maybe even better than needed with the movie involved.
Delirious is guilty and sentenced to a major rewrite! Case dismissed!
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