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STAY TUNED

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: This disappointing fantasy farce starring two TV stars of the 1980s, the late John Ritter (‘Three’s Company’) and Pam Dawber (‘Mork & Mindy’) is a disappointment but it must have a following since Sony has decided to give it a Blu-ray upgrade. Here’s my review, published Aug. 27, 1992 (which was jointly reviewed with two other films that opened around the same time, ‘Once False Move’ and ‘The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag’).

Returning from vacation the film critic plays catch-up on movies that opened while he was off.

"Stay Tuned" is a spoof of TV series, commercials and movies, and a few of the brief skits here are amusing.

The animated centerpiece — a cartoon by Chuck Jones called "RoboCat" — is a riot.

But the film's extended set pieces, which make up most of the movie, are flat and humorless.

What this movie needs is the sense of insanity and rapid-fire jokes in the vein of "Airplane!" or "The Naked Gun." Instead, it's a series of setups, most of which simply don't pay off.

     

John Ritter spoofs his old sitcom 'Three's Company' in 'Stay Tuned,' here with June Nagy as Chrissy and Roselyn Royce as Janet.

The premise has couch potato John Ritter signing his soul over to an agent of the devil (Jeffrey Jones) in exchange for "Hell-vision," a satanic cable channel that proves to be quite interactive.

In fact, Ritter and wife Pam Dawber are sucked into their satellite dish and find themselves participants in psychotic TV shows, where they have 24 hours to battle for their lives.

So, they outwit wolves in "Northern Overexposure," go to the mat on a wrestling program and Ritter even shows up on the Starship Enterprise in a spoof of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

But how do you spoof something that is already a spoof, like "Wayne's World"? Here, they make Wayne and Garth zombies. It's hilarious — not!

     

And that's the problem. Even a plotless movie can be fun if it's funny enough. But too often "Stay Tuned" is completely laughless.

And the pacing is surprisingly slack, considering the driving force is director-cinematographer Peter Hyams, who seems to fare better with action pictures ("Running Scared," "Outland").

This is most evident when Dawber and Ritter show up on an elaborate French Revolution set. Hyams lavishly photographs the moment but has no idea how to employ the wit of, say, the Monty Python troupe.

“Stay Tuned” is rated PG for violence, profanity and some mild vulgarity.