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Deal of the Century (1983, William Friedkin)
Starring: Chevy Chase, Sigourney Weaver, Gregory Hines, Wallace Shawn, The keyboard player from The Doors, Bradford English.
Box Notables: 'Property of Grand Rapids Public Library' sticker.
Tagline: ‘Chevy Chase and his partners are arms dealers. They sell second-rate weapons to Third World nations. But they’re no out to stick it to anyone’
Trailers: TR-7 – The Movie, Des Moines or Bust!, Pedro the Pig
Cherrypick: “This place is hotter than Dolly Parton’s minipad.”
While the kudos sandwich of The Exorcist and The French Connection hardly hinted at a lightness of touch that might extend to comedy, their director - erstwhile Wunderkind William Friedkin - could at least reasonably argue that with a number of different genre scalps already toupeeing the Oscars on his groaning mantelpiece, a stab at the warm arts might not be so far beyond his reach. Such wilful overburdening would, however, prove the straw that not so much broke the camel’s back as turned that luckless ship-of-the-desert into a honking mound of fecal slurry topped by a surprised and, frankly, rather stereotypical Bedouin.
Nevertheless always adroit in casting such top-notch second bananas as that emetic moppet in his pea-soup horror opus and the ever-dependable Roy Scheider as Gene Hackman’s gurning sidekick, the wingmen Friedkin cherrypicks to shepherd his Deal star’s misfiring chopper through the moral DMZ of the Yanqui military-industrial complex are six-foot stone fox Sigourney Weaver - fresh from Indonesian midget-cuddling sleeper hit The Year of Living Dangerously - and a Gregory Hines taking the first steps towards small-screen royalty that would culminate with eventual coronation during ‘Will & Grace’ season 3.
Unfortunately for both, said star is Chevy Chase, and he’s fiddling with the ejector seat.
This being a satire, the ordnance in question – an AI controlled jet fighter intended to be hawked to the highest bidding gaucho despot - must bear a satirical moniker, and so, wistfully recalling the sidearm those famously arch gunsmiths Colt created more than a hundred years earlier in a saucy post-modern attempt to destabilize the hair-trigger moral equilibrium of the 7th Cavalry’s unwashed, hollering proles in their whiskey-soaked genocide of The Red Man, we are presented with ‘The Peacemaker’. Not that D. Cent. tarries long on the shores of historical irony when there are beachheads of predictable persiflage to be stormed; nor does it aim for the safe, verdant harbours of taste or logic that lay beyond the cliff-faced peninsula of mendacity that demands just-widowed Weaver fall for Chase’s dead-eyed drollery.
|Did you class it up, Chevy? Yeah, you classed it up!|
Hines is rammed into this sidewinding dollargasm as the God-bothering pilot lined up by Chase to convince Generic Spic Dictators that the Peacemaker is the shiznit when it comes to furthering their barely constituted countries’ national interests. Quite why a top-of-the-range death-from-above spewing drone jet is required to subjugate dissident poverty-line coca farmers armed only with pick-axe handles and mistranslated copies of ‘Das Krapital’ is explained to no-one’s complete satisfaction; nor is it immediately apparent why a Jesus-freak song-and-dance man is essential to fly a computer-controlled techno-wonder.
|Bromance & Genocide|
To this day Weaver claims she finds it impossible to watch the film. Well, Ripley, a word from the ERH Book of the Dead - empirical evidence confirms that eight cans of Norbecker Hi-Life and a dope-laced Domino’s Five-Alarm Fanfare should easily see you through the first fifteen minutes.
After that, love, you’re on your own…