Starring: John Candy, Mariel Hemingway, Emma Samms
Director: Tom Mankiewicz
Running Time: 96 mins
Delirious is an American film about a television writer who, after being knocked unconscious, wakes up in his own daytime soap opera, with the ability to manipulate the world around him as he writes.
This film was a bit of a shame for me. Although you can’t ever expect a masterpiece when it comes to an early 90s comedy starring John Candy, you’re normally in for something silly and light-hearted with a good sense of humour and a bit of heart. Unfortunately, Delirious squanders a potentially entertaining premise with dull romance and hyperbolic performances, too often falling into the very trap that it’s trying to mock.
At first, the premise here seemed like the perfect sort for a good bit of Hollywood fun. In similar fashion to Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose Of Cairo, it’s always fun to see fictional characters interact with the real world, and vice versa, as it points out the some of the plainly ridiculous personalities that can crop up in fiction time and again, whilst the added bonus of some ridiculous fantasy that effectively gives our main character mind control powers, as he’s able to control people’s actions by writing them into the script, promised something very light-hearted but sufficiently entertaining.
What’s more is that the film’s opening act looks to set it up as a fantastic mockery of the ridiculous world of 1980s American TV soaps. With preposterous story lines, hyperbolic acting and bizarre twists and turns as the writers attempt to instil some drama, the soaps weren’t the greatest works of art at the time, so I expected a good deal of tounge-in-cheek humour related to them from this film.
Unfortunately, it’s exactly there that the film’s biggest downfall comes. It firstly misses out on the chance to be a fun throwaway fantasy comedy by focusing too much on the romantic relationships of the main character instead of his newfound power, but most disappointingly of all, it becomes all too much like the TV soaps it’s trying to mock.
While the opening act looks at a TV soap from an outside perspective, and shows you for what a ridiculous, over-the-top farce it is, once our main man is inside the world of his soap, he gets just as caught up in the melodramatic lives of the characters in the show, and the film rapidly starts to switch focus from his reaction to being transported into this TV world to a story that effectively presents him as just another character in the soap, which threw away all of the film’s potential for genuinely good humour.
Although John Candy is as likable as normal in the lead role, he can’t really do much to rescue his character from being turned into a hyperbolic soap character, while the rest of the supporting performances are just that, failing to show a good degree of irony or satire at any point, and instead feeling as if they’re acting in a normal TV soap, so that’s why I’m giving Delirious a 6.5 overall.