It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone has one film they love that they’d be ashamed to show anyone else. Well, that’s not quite how the quote goes, but it’s true nevertheless. The question is, just what makes us love them anyway?
Having watched Soapdish, the 1991 film starring Sally Fields, Whoopi Goldberg, and an incredibly young Robert Downey Jr, I can testify that it’s terrible. Deeply, heartily curled up with embarrassment as you watch terrible. Yet despite that, I can’t stop replaying it.
The story is simple. A soap opera actress at the height of her fame is being gleefully pushed from her pedestal by fame hungry newcomers, an old lover, and her scheming producer who’s just looking to get laid. Life mimics art as the real life dramas threaten to overshadow the show itself, culminating in a live episode to decide the fates of the characters.
Perhaps the only redeeming feature of this movie is its cast. The actors and actresses play to the ridiculous aspects, and the script has some surprisingly witty moments for them to work with. Not a serious film, definitely a product of its time, and yet so long as you treat it with the levity and suspension of reality that it demands, this terrible film becomes strangely hypnotic.
For me, Soapdish is a reminder that not all cinema has to be hard hitting and serious to become a classic. It might be ridiculous, with little discernible plot and absolutely no real world relevance, but I’ll take it over The Great Gatsby anyday.