review: Radioland Murders

Well, it’s almost 4am. so this will be brief.

I watched the 1994 film Radioland Murders earlier tonight, and managed to enjoy it on several levels. though overall, I couldn’t recommend it to anyone genuinely hoping to enjoy the time it would take to sit and stare.

Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion” did a much better job of capturing the crazy atmosphere of a large group struggling to put on a live radio act. Ben Stiller’s “The Cable Guy” did a fine job of stealing the whole climax and updating it to relate to our more current obsession with bad television (instead of arguably-bad radio), by focusing much more on the revealed villian as a fleshed out character (so he is less preachy in the final reel). But wow, theCableGuy ripped off this movie’s ending HARD. Like shot for shot. weird (er… cool? Hip ahead of it’s time?).


All in all, the idea of a phantom of the opera twist on a goofy fun radio broadcast event was pretty neat. nifty even. Too bad the jokes almost all fall flat. eek. I’m not sure if it was the actors, or the editing, or the directing. but. yikes.

I found myself thinking “this would be much better as a bugs bunny cartoon” (due to the strange brief characters and the slapstick idiocy). And then the main character popped up in a total Carmen Miranda suit. …! (With the whole fruit bowl balanced on a scantily clad tropical woman’s head). This was used to great effect in a classic bugs bunny cartoon. sooo. I’m probably not alone in wishing the movie was animated. Chalk it up to yet another filmmaking failure to emulate the elasticity of cartoonery.

Ra. And i’m too tired to dig deeper for broad movie making perspectives. and i’m not sure it deserves much more thought. The idea of the show’s best writer being the prime murder suspect, and slipping last minute script page revisions in to oust the true villian in a live performance, which leads to villian delivering the lines the writer wrote and then accidentally turning on a mic and being broadcast live as the evil character the actors were just portraying on stage- was totally delightful. And his rant on technology and patents hinted towards interesting broader commentary.

But in the end i just hated the guy playing the lead (writer), and couldn’t enjoy the movie. yeargh. I’d only recommend it for “completist” Lucas fans. Many interesting ideas, and a very sweet nod to the zany great radio show stylings of a forgotten time in entertainment. But poorly paced, full of groans, and hard to endure.

Rating: a million stars (out of infinite).

(I plan to pop out more random movie reviews like this. Try sorting by category if you’d like to just read reviews)

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