Soapdish aims at a satiric target as big as a Macy’s float and intermittently hits it. Sally Field and Kevin Kline play a feuding pair of romantically involved soap opera stars in this broad but amiable sendup of daytime TV.
Field, the reigning ‘queen of misery’ on the sudser The Sun Also Sets, is at the peak of her glory but is going to pieces emotionally. Amazonian harpy Cathy Moriarty is scheming to take over the show by using her sexual wiles to convince the slimy producer (Robert Downey Jr) to have Field’s character destroy her popularity by committing some unspeakable crime.
To drive Field even more off the edge, Downey surprises her by bringing back her long-ago flame, Kevin Kline, whom she had thrown off the show in 1973. Whoopi Goldberg, the show’s jaded head writer, flips when told Kline is coming back because his character was written out by having him decapitated in a car crash.
Field works hard and shows an expert sense of comic timing, but the grittily down-to-earth acting persona Field has developed now makes her seem a bit too reasonable for the zany demands of this script [from a screen story by Robert Harling].
Kline is utterly marvelous as a sort of low-rent John Barrymore type, boozing and carousing his way through the ranks of worshipful young actresses. Moriarty, who acts as if she’s been staying up late studying Mary Woronov pics, is a scream as Field’s deep-voiced, hate-consumed rival.