It’s hard to hate The Deal. This is a harmless romantic comedy set around the film business, with fine performances and tone. It’s a movie that never seems to get off the ground or gain momentum, at least enough to see it through to the end.
William H. Macy is the show stealer here, playing a suicidal, desperate, and loony film producer who hasn’t found work in a while. When his nephew produces a script, he’ll do anything to get the film made, even changing the script into the stupidest Hollywood action film ever created. This leads to some absolutely hilarious scenes of L.L. Cool J playing historic Jewish figure Benjamin Disraeli, running through buildings with assault rifles and blowing things up.
Unfortunately, L.L. Cool J appears just as quickly as he disappears. His insertion into the script is purely one of a contrived plot point to seal the ending off with a nice red bow. He feels wasted.
Macy ends up falling in love with Meg Ryan, who for the most part, does her usual thing as Meg Ryan. She’s a quirky, likeable, and hard-to-get woman who fits right in with Macy’s character. As a studio executive, her decisions are influenced by Macy, including the approval of the absurd action script. Everything is set up to further their relationship, but not the point where the ending is spared from the usual romantic save before the credits roll. At the very least, the final shot of the film is not a wedding.
There are laughs beyond the movie-set sequences. Dialogue can be sharp and witty, though typically reserved for Macy. Some of the rants from L.L. Cool J are also especially fun, not to mention explicit. Then, the movie begins reaching for its laughs, including an embarrassing karaoke sequence that’s incredibly forced.
The Deal is more or less a film (based on a book of the same name) that can’t break free from the laughs generated during a couple of scenes. Had the crew stuck with their absurd action movie, it might have worked as a straight Hollywood satire, but the ending is soft and it loses its edge. Still, as a harmless comedy and a way to kill 90 minutes, you could do worse.
The Deal is presented with a mostly sharp AVC encode. Noticeable moments where the sharpness drops off are drastic and distracting. It doesn’t seem like it’s an intentional part of the source, nor does it have a reason to be. Colors are saturated nicely, although reds have the tendency to bleed. Contrast is all around excellent, and facial detail can be outstanding. A nice film grain sits over the source.
The disc comes with a standard Dolby Digital mix, and while one of the new audio codecs is always preferred, there’s hardly a reason for it. This is a center-loaded film, with few opportunities for any surround use. The only time they even kick in is during the finale with a nice enveloping crowd clap. Pedestrian as the sound design may be, dialogue is always audible and mixed nicely.
One extra resides on the disc, a heartfelt making-of that runs just over 17 minutes. Cast and crew speak highly of the film (of course), although this feature is padded with film clips. It’s also in standard def.