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Stay Tuned (September 21/01)

Imagine if you could live inside your television, cruising through the channels and living a new life with the flick of a switch. That's exactly what happens to John Ritter and Pam Dawber in Stay Tuned, an underrated comedy about a couch potato's ultimate wake-up call.

Ritter stars as Roy, a plumbing supplies salesman with a dull life. He escapes, much to his wife Helen's chagrin, by plopping himself down in front of the tube and vegging. One night, though, after a particularly nasty fight between the couple, Roy is visited by a mysterious man (played by Jeffrey Jones) who makes Roy an offer he can't refuse: A free trial of a home entertainment system, complete with a satellite dish that gets 666 channels. But what Jones fails to mention is that if you get too close to the dish, you'll be sucked inside the television, and forced to survive through vicious game shows, violent wrestling matches and episodes of series like Northern Overexposure.

Stay Tuned is a harmless little comedy, with parodies of various pop culture entities (everything from Silence of the Lambs to Diff'rent Strokes is touched upon) and a playful, almost surreal touch (the animated sequence, orchestrated by the legendary Chuck Jones, is certainly the highlight of the movie). Obviously, the various parodies are what make this movie worth watching, but the rest of the movie is entertaining as well.

Ritter and Dawber are ideally cast in the central roles, with Ritter even willing to spoof himself (one of the shows he finds himself on is Three's Company, his reaction to which is a blood-curdling scream). With supporting performances from the likes of Eugene Levy (as good as usual) and the always fantastic Jones (Mr. Rooney from Ferris Bueller's Day Off), Stay Tuned is a likable, enjoyable way to spend less than 90 minutes.

out of