Soap Dish

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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    Soap Dish is a 1991 comedy film which parodies the workings of an American Soap Opera. The real-life problems of the cast are so over the top that the Show Within a Show, The Sun Also Sets would probably have a better story line if they covered the lives of the cast.

    Sally Field plays Celeste, the neurotic star of the show, who believes her life is meaningless after playing a soap-opera character who suffers all sorts of problems over the more than 20 years she's been on the show, (a kind of Shout-Out to All My Children's Susan Lucci who has played the same type of character.) She's also depressed because her live-in-boyfriend decided to leave her to go back to his wife in Pittsburgh.

    Her best friend Rose, the head writer of the series, played by Whoopi Goldberg, knows how to bring her out of her funk, by pushing the right buttons. Her most successful method of bringing Celeste out of her misery is to visit a shopping mall in Paramus, New Jersey, and have her "discovered" by the crowd of women shoppers that loves her and the show.

    Meanwhile, the assistant producer, David, (Robert Downey, Jr.) wants to bed the second banana on the show, Montana Moorhead, who won't let him have sex with her unless Celeste is off the show (so she can become the star). So he creates a new story line where a homeless mute attacks Celeste with a knife, so that Celeste will have to kill her, causing there to be a trial, make the audience hate Celeste, etc. During this new story line, a very aggressive starlet uses every trick she can think of to get on the show, and through an accidental viewing of rushes, the assistant producer picks the starlet to be the homeless mute who stabs Celeste. When Celeste sees the starlet, she recognizes her as her niece, Laurie.

    This begins a whole new life for Celeste, who has her niece move in to her palatial apartment. Seeing as how the homeless mute gambit didn't work, David decides to find a former castmember, Jeffrey (Kevin Kline), whom they'd fired 20 years ago because Celeste didn't like him. He's doing dinner theater in Florida, and David offers him some enticements to come back. This doesn't go well with Rose, because his character is being Back from the Dead after being Killed Off for Real. "I went back to the archives and re-read the old scripts to be sure. He was decapitated in a car accident! He has no head! How do I write dialog for an actor without a head?" David announces several handwaves to solve the problem, a successful head reattachment surgery, or other tricks.

    Now Celeste is not pleased that Jeffrey is back. Also, Laurie is rather attracted to Jeffrey, which bothers Celeste terribly. Celeste even goes so far as to sneak into Jeffrey's apartment building to try and see into his apartment when she discovers he took Laurie out on a date, but he decided not to take advantage of Laurie's interest in him, and has her leave early. Discovering Celeste hanging on his drainpipe, believing her to be jealous, he decides to needle her, calling out (to the empty apartment), "Laurie! Put your clothes on, your aunt is here."

    David notices the tension, and decides to up the ante by having Jeffrey and Laurie do an on-screen kiss. Celeste breaks the scene, riding Jeffrey piggy-back to stop him, and does a major reveal:


    Celeste: You can't kiss her! You can never kiss her!
    Jeffrey: Why, because she's your niece?
    Celeste: No, because she's your daughter! Our daughter.


    Turns out Celeste and Jeffrey had been lovers 20-years back, and Celeste got pregnant, only the whole thing was covered up, and Laurie was sent to live with Celeste's mother, while Laurie was told her mother and father were dead, and was Celeste's niece rather than her daughter.

    Hilarity Ensues as the cast and crew backstab each other.

    Tropes used in Soap Dish include:

    Jeffrey: You have beautiful eyes.
    Ariel: They're nothing compared to my tits.


    David: I'm just following orders.
    Celeste: So was Hitler! No, wait, not Hitler, the other guy...
    Rose: Goebbels?
    David: Himmler?
    Rose: Eichmann?
    Celeste: Yes! Eichmann. That's you!


    Jeffrey: What's your hurry anyway? Gotta get to the mall?
    (Celeste freezes, and has no response to his question except to slowly walk up to Jeffrey and slap him across the face.)
    Jeffrey: (unfazed) Give them my best in Paramus.


    Rose: Why can't I write shit like this?!