Well, give TV credit where credit's due... at least it's trying to evolve. I hate to think what's going to become of TV after 3D takes over. But apparently it's cheaper to give old movies an HD face lift than it is to actually put them out on DVD or Blu-Ray. Take Wrong is Right and The Gong Show Movie, for example. Both movies from the 80s, both about television run amok, but most importantly to me, both recently seen on various HD channels. Both probably not worth getting on disc! And yet, here we are. Even the worst Peter Hyams movie gets new life breathed into it through HD. But is it even fair to compare Wrong is Right and The Gong Show Movie to each other? Probably not, but I'll do it anyway...
DR. STRANGELOVE + NETWORK = ... JUST PLAIN WRONG
That seems to be the hybrid that they were going for. A little Dr. Strangelove, a little Network... they got the pacing of a thriller down, with some satire for the kids. Somehow, not satirical enough. Jennifer Jason Leigh does what she can, though, as does veteran cinematographer Fred Koenekamp, whose other credits include Patton, Papillon, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Stewardess School... hmm! A slippery slope, if you will! Actually, I think I have a bad DVD copy of this somewhere, taped off a tape from that video store I used to go to. I know, shame on me. I'll have to dig it out and watch it someday, as the HD viewing of Wrong is Right was aborted in our household. The vote was taken, and the movie lost. Sorry, "writer"-director Richard Brooks, guess you're stuck with In Cold Blood and those Tennessee Williams plays you did.
CHUCK BARRIS' RINGMASTER
It's tough being a celebrity, especially a groundbreaker like Chuck Barris. According to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, he was a cultural lightning rod when The Gong Show was in its heyday and, much like Kinsey, got blamed for the downfall of society. If only we knew. Now he seems downright quaint these days, along with Donahue.
But in addition to being a covert CIA operative, Barris once aspired to make films as well. Apparently, all these guys do. Jerry Springer had 1998's Ringmaster, even though another writer and director is inexplicably credited. Same as with Howard Stern's Private Parts. But no. Chuck had to have it all. Director, co-writer, star. Who does he think he is? Bob Fosse? And how the hell did Robert Downey Sr. get roped into that? It's those kinds of questions that are more interesting to me. And so, The Gong Show Movie was born. And as The Onion would probably observe, it provided the inspiration for David Lee Roth's Just a Gigolo / Ain't Got Nobody music video... hmm! Maybe I'll look that up on YouTube now!... see? This is how it begins. God bless the internet age. For some reason, I'm proud of myself that I spotted Taylor Negron. Ultimately, I took it upon myself to delete Gong Show from the TiVo. I gave it the gong, if you will. Well, if you saw the suffering I saw, you'd scold me for not doing it sooner.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan