- Movie Rating -

Deal of the Century (1983)

| November 4, 1983

I can always smell a comedy in which there is no structure.  I can tell when the director is hoping that since there are funny people involved that hopefully their natural comic talents will boost a movie that has no functioning center.  That is exactly what William Friedkin has with Deal of the Century a giant mess of a comedy that wants to say something about the buyer’s market for weapons of mass destruction but also wants a smartass Chevy Chase movie that gets by on his one-liners.

The result is a tiring jumble of scenes without a destination.  Stuff happens.  Comic opportunities rise and fall.  In the end you’re not sure what the movie was all about.

There is a premise: Chevy Chase and Gregory Hines play a pair of arms dealers, the kind of guys with a stockpile of weapons that they will sell to the highest bidder no matter which side they’re on and no question about what they intend to do with it.  The idea here is that the sales pitch depends on Chevy’s clever wiseass pitch.  The problem is that they don’t really go anywhere, as in the opening scene in which he is in Central America selling a weapon that he demonstrates by firing it at a bunch of police cars.  Is there a joke there?

I don’t think it matters because I lost the plot soon after.  Gathered from what I could interpret here, Chase and Hines meet up with a nervous arms dealer named Harold (Wallace Shawn) who kills himself while waiting for his buyer to make the call in his hotel room – the gag is that the phone call comes through the moment that he kills himself.  Again, where’s the joke?

The guys hook up with Harold’s widow Catherine (Sigourney Weaver) while still trying to make deals in South America when a really big deal comes across involving a new guided missile called The Peacekeeper.  The weapon isn’t ready and is malfunctioning, so the head of the company that is manufacturing it tries to get Chevy to quickly unload it in Central America.

There so much more to this film that isn’t worth going into.  It’s far more complicated than it needs to be and it is left to wonder if the film wasn’t originally a lot more serious and got scaled back to fit a vehicle for Chevy Chase.  Either way, the result is a movie that is all over the place.  It’s not funny, it makes little sense and in the end you’re just glad its over.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1983) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy