So I admit it: I love made for tv movies more than feature films. Why? You might ask. Because they’re so damn simple. They follow a formula and best of all, they last two hours, and have built in breaks. The other night though, I felt like maybe broadening my horizons, watching a full length feature film that millions of others had enjoyed in a theater. Obviously the only place I could find such a film, would be in the free movie section of On Demand.
I considered watching The Fifth Element before I came across The Sunshine Boys. It starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Woody Allen AND Peter Falk (fuckin COLUMBO!). Done. I clicked what I think is supposed to be an eyeball and began this glorious movie, which is an updated version of a Neil Simon play, which was adapted into a movie in 1972 and again with this version in 1995, which is about a talent agent (Parker) trying to recombine the once famous comedy duo Lewis & Clark (Allen & Falk) after years apart. The “funny” part of their duo, is that their on stage/screen “fighting” isn’t so much of an act, as a genuine disdain and hatred for one another. Think Vaudeville.
Fifteen minutes in, the screen momentarily faded to black, and then the scene picked up in the same location. Hmm. I thought. That surely wasn’t a commercial spot. I kept watching. Whoopi Goldberg soon appeared as a Columbo’s nurse after he suffered a heart attack. The laughs were constant. Sarah Jessica Parker was lovable. This was just “too good” to be a mere made for television movie, but every 15 minutes or so, the screen would temporarily turn black. Time to do some research.
And wouldn’t ya know it? The Sunshine Boys, the funniest FREE On Demand movie I’ve ever sat through, was really “The Sunshine Boys” (TV) from the 1995 Hallmark Hall of Fame Collection. I submit that this movie is the Holy Grail of MFTVM. Apart from being genuinely well written and actually funny, it contains the following actors (in addition to the incomparable SJP and Woody Allen of course):
1. Edie Falco
2. Whoopi Goldberg
3. Michael McKean
4. Liev Schreiber
5. Jennifer Esposito
6. Michael Badalucco
And if you think for a second that that isn’t enough proof that MFTVM are better than feature films, I have $4.99 and three words that will change your mind: Marley & Me.