Plot: Wally Sparks (Rodney Dangerfield) is one of the most outlandish talk show hosts and given his competition, that says a lot. His topics are often obscene, his guests profane, and his audiences riotous, but this madness translates into some impressive ratings. While those ratings are music to the ears of the network, his ridiculous antics also lead to outrage, protests, and loss of sponsors. As he needs commercials to make money, Sparks finds himself on the chopping block, but an invitation to the mansion of the governor inspires him. After a wild incident at the mansion, Sparks claims he is injured and if he can land an interview with the governor himself, his show will be spared. But how can he convince the puritanical governor to appear the show, when he is a vocal critics of Sparks’ brand of entertainment?
Entertainment Value: This one was too over the top and ridiculous for most viewers, but as a big fan of Rodney Dangerfield, I thought he was fun to watch here, even if the material isn’t the best he’s worked with. The narrative is thin and the tabloid talk show host role is just a way to allow Dangerfield to showcase his brand of humor, surrounded by outlandish and colorful characters and situations. The jokes are broad and often crude, but mostly within the usual spectrum of Dangerfield’s routine, with innuendos, self deprecating quips, and Dangerfield clashing with more high society types. So for his fans, this is familiar ground, but the zaniness is dialed up quite a bit and it has a number of prominent supporting roles. The humor is hit and miss, but rapid fire and a nice blend of approaches, so enough of it lands, if you appreciate Dangerfield or absurd humor in general. I can however see some viewers would be let down here, if they require cerebral humor or are easily offended.
The real draw of Meet Wally Sparks is Dangerfield himself, as this is more or less a vehicle for his usual routine, though his costars are given more than a fair amount of screen time. Your level of appreciation for Dangerfield’s style of humor will likely have a big influence on how much fun you have here, as his jokes and mannerisms are the center of the movie. His jokes are about what you’d expect from him, but to me, he has so much charm and is just hilarious, even if his material is well worn. But if you’re just not a fan of Dangerfield, you will probably be hard pressed to have a good time here, since he is the definite lead. David Ogden Stiers is also here and really dials up his turn here, taking the prudish governor to camp levels. But the scenes between Dangerfield and Stiers are a lot of fun, with both actors going over the top. Debi Mazar also has a big role here, as almost a straight presence for the goofier characters to bounce off. The cast also includes Karen Duffy, Tony Danza, and Cindy Williams, as well as numerous other familiar faces in smaller, sometimes cameo level roles.