The Deal (2008)

Sandwiched between some overworked cliches is a biting little satire

Photo of William H. Macy and Meg Ryan in The Deal

William H. Macy and Meg Ryan in The Deal


It took about 10 minutes before I "got" what this film is all about. And, having decided I liked it, it just kept getting better and better, right up to about the last 10 minutes.

Now I don't care for that cliche beginning where we learn that a character — in this case, bitter and desperately despondent filmmaker Charlie Berns (William H. Macy) — is so inept that he can't even bring off his own suicide. He finally gives up on his attempt when he's interrupted by his nephew Lionel (Jason Ritter), who has come to ask for help with his screenplay about … wait for it … Benjamin Disraeli.

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Faced with the prospect of living, Berns apparently sets off to make the movie. But it doesn't take long before you realize he's off to make fools of everyone he possibly can, something to fill up the void in his life. And so through sheer bravado he obtains funding, signs black action star Bobby Mason (LL Cool J) to star as a Jewish freedom fighter, and debarks for South Africa for shooting. But he doesn't count on how much he's going to like the studio's development director Deidre Hearn (Meg Ryan).

The script by Macy and director Steven Schachter is wry and frequently biting, and the story moves along nicely. I wish I could say the ending was as unexpected as the movie itself, but you'll derive enough pleasure from the bulk of it to forgive the final few cliches.


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