Radioland Murders (1994)

Genres - Comedy, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy Thriller, Whodunit  |   Release Date - Oct 21, 1994 (USA)  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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A little-known entry in the catalog of producer George Lucas, Radioland Murders is one part murder mystery, one part screwball comedy, and one part tribute to the "golden age" of radio. Lucas's foray outside the fantasy-science fiction genre is an admirable attempt that proves difficult. Mary Stuart Masterson and Brian Benben head a large cast as a bickering married couple employed at Chicago radio station WBN, she as a secretary and he as a writer, who are separating right before the station's premier broadcast. As the live broadcast gets underway, a series of murders threaten to pull the plug. Of course, further complicating matters, Benben becomes the prime suspect and must avoid the police while trying to prove his innocence. Masterson and, especially, Benben are very funny, but they are saddled with fighting through a series of clich├ęs, forced situations, and tired jokes. Benben mugs and takes pratfalls, albeit effectively, while Masterson is stuck in the role as his foil and the glue holding everything together while the plot comes undone. Comedian Mel Smith directs and tries hard to match the performances with the opulent period sets, but can't seem to decide the direction he wants the film to take. The film is loaded with cameos by lower-tier celebrities, often spoofing themselves, and the supporting cast features very funny performances from Michael McKean as the orchestra leader and Christopher Lloyd as the sound effects man.