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Delirious

Rated PG, 96 min. Directed by Tom Mankiewicz. Starring John Candy, Mariel Hemingway, Raymond Bur, Emma Samms, David Rasche, Dylan Baker, Charles Rocket.

REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Aug. 16, 1991

After TV soap opera scripter Candy becomes involved in an accident, he wakes to find himself in the world of his soap. When he regains consciousness, Candy's lying on what looks exactly like the show's hospital set. He is attended to by two of the show's characters Dr. Kirkwood (Rasche) -- handsome, vain and completely manipulated by spoiled rich Laura Hedison (Samms) -- and the nurse with whom Kirkwood has just ended his affair. At first Candy doesn't get it, when he opens the door and it's a real hospital, he comments, “When did they build the new set?” but gradually he figures it out. Dismayed at first, Candy becomes excited when he encounters the young Hedison. In the soap opera her father (Burr) and two brothers -- the adored Blake (Baker) and the lunatic, eye-patch wearing unappreciated Ty (Rocket) -- run the town. In real life, Candy is enthralled with the spoiled actress playing the role. When he finds out he can write scenes that everyone will act, he quickly sets to casting himself as a hero. Delirious is cleverly scripted. Not just Candy has control of this world, there's also the evil script doctor hired by the show's cold producers and, to some extent, the town even has a life of its own. The writers manage to keep these three “reality” threads clearly distinguished and cleverly woven. Though clever, Delirious is so light it just keeps threatening to blow away. Candy, who is fine at the center of this, is just not powerful enough to pull it all into him. The real mistake is that most of the characters, both before and after the accident are portrayed so exaggeratedly that the film becomes simply an exercise in caricature. Unlike Candy's soap world, Delirious never does achieve a life of its own.
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