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By Elaine Hegwood Bowen
The Deal is such a funny movie starring William H. Macy as Charlie Berns, and Meg Ryan, as Deidre Hearn, in roles where they are pitted against each other originally and then come to some understanding where they actually have a brief affair.
The Deal is about a washed up movie producer who has become despondent with life and very nonchalant and cynical about mostly everything.
But he’s given a life line when his young nephew comes around with a screenplay, which Charlie decides to pitch to studio heads.
The plan is to make a movie about 19th century English statesman Benjamin Disraeli, but he needs a well-known actor. He lands a deal, but is placed on a short lease, with Deidre close by his side.
Charlie is up to his tricks, trying to scam the studio, but Deidre catches on, and although she has her own bag of problems, she’s holding on for dear life, trying to trip Charlie up.
They set out to make a movie starring LL Cool J as an A-list action star, whose plot revolves around a Jewish theme, but the movie is full of blood and action, with a bit of Yiddish mixed in. LL Cool J was chosen, because he’s recently converted to Judaism.
LL Cool J is hilarious in his role as Bobby Mason, as he’s previously been cast in action flicks, and this one seems as if it will throw him off kilter. But he remains in control and acts his lines with the best bravado, stirred up by broken Yiddish expressions. There’s Rabbi Seth Gutterman, played by Elliot Gould, who bonds in Yiddish very well with Mason, and he’s hired on retainer as a consultant to let the crew know when things aren’t going quite right.
Midway through taping in South Africa, Deidre loses her job, which only serves to open a door for Charlie to make his move. In one awkward scene, Charlie has hired a prostitute, but Deidre joins him for dinner, and he’s hard pressed to get rid of the prostitute, while Deidre looks on. He lies through his teeth, but his reward in the end s Deidre.
Throughout The Deal, Deidre and Charlie have a “hot/cold” relationship, just being civil enough so they can make it through to meet their studio commitments; and later the best of friends.
The entire crew ends up wearing yarmulkes, to keep in line with the Jewish theme.
But terror sets in, and production is stopped when LL Cool J is kidnapped. So Charlie devises a scheme to help save the movie and the star. They decide to make another movie with the funding, and everybody moves the set to Prague and later to London.
Macy is great, as the cocky producer who just seems to say whatever comes to his lips, not really engaging his mind into whether it’s politically correct or not.
Other cast members include Jason Ritter, who appears to be a splitting image of his late father, John.
In a movie where everyone walks around in dark shades, this mischievous, smart screwball satire about renegade producers dealing in love and movie making was labeled “side-splittingly” funny by The Montreal Gazette at the recent Just For Laughs Festival, following its premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
The movie is funny, and to see Gould sing Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing is priceless.
The Deal is distributed on DVD and BLU-ray by Peace Arch® Home Entertainment beginning Tuesday, January 20.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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