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STAY TUNED
Reviewed September 29th, 2001 by David Nusair

 

Imagine if you could live inside your television, cruising through the channels and living a new life with the flick of a switch. Thatís exactly what happens to John Ritter and Pam Dawber in Stay Tuned, an underrated comedy about a couch potatoís ultimate wake-up call.

Ritter stars as Roy, a plumbing supplies salesman with a dull life. He escapes, much to his wife Helenís chagrin, by plopping himself down in front of the tube and vegging. One night, though, after a particularly nasty fight between the couple, Roy is visited by a mysterious man (played by Jeffrey Jones) who makes Roy an offer he canít refuse: A free trial of a home entertainment system, complete with a satellite dish that gets 666 channels. But what Jones fails to mention is that if you get too close to the dish, youíll be sucked inside the television, and forced to survive through vicious game shows, violent wrestling matches and episodes of series like Northern Overexposure.

Stay Tuned is a harmless little comedy, with parodies of various pop culture entities (everything from Silence of the Lambs to Diffírent Strokes is touched upon) and a playful, almost surreal touch (the animated sequence, orchestrated by the legendary Chuck Jones, is certainly the highlight of the movie). Obviously, the various parodies are what make this movie worth watching, but the rest of the movie is entertaining as well.

Ritter and Dawber are ideally cast in the central roles, with Ritter even willing to spoof himself (one of the shows he finds himself on is Threeís Company, his reaction to which is a blood-curdling scream). With supporting performances from the likes of Eugene Levy (as good as usual) and the always fantastic Jones (Mr. Rooney from Ferris Buellerís Day Off), Stay Tuned is a likable, enjoyable way to spend less than 90 minutes.

Audio: Stay Tuned is presented with a remastered DD 5.1 soundtrack and itís pretty active. Most scenes will occupy your front speakers mostly, but there are a few (such as the duel that eventually transpires between Jones and Ritter) that will employ your rear speakers to notable effect. But this isnít exactly the sort of disc youíd use to show of your system, but it does have a spatial quality to it and the dialogue is always crisp and clear.

Video: Presented anamorphically at 2.35:1, Stay Tuned looks excellent. There are a few film-related blemishes, but nothing distractingly awful. This is a vibrant and clear transfer.

Extras: Not much on the extras side, unfortunately. Thereís a short (six-minute) featurette hosted by Jones, but it doesnít really offer any real information. There are interviews with the stars and director talking about why the script appealed to them and how different the movie is from other similar comedies, but thatís about it. In addition to a really bad looking full-screen trailer, there are three other trailers (Ace Ventura and Chill Factor, which are anamorphic, and Big Bully, which isnít).

Take a chance on Stay Tuned; it got a bad rap upon itís release, but this is certainly a movie that works on video.

 

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