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Soap Mixed With Dirty Laundry

February 06, 1992|JON NALICK

The year is 1952. The place is New Orleans. And the problem, for young radio writer Martin Loader, is that he's just fallen in love with his twice-divorced Aunt Julia.

Keeanu Reeves and Barbara Hershey star as the would-be lovers in "Tune in Tomorrow," an unusual romantic comedy that doubles as a satire of radio and television soap operas.

Martin's life quickly spins out of control when his aunt's visit coincides with the arrival of a lunatic writing genius at the radio station where he works. The genius, Pedro Carmichael (Peter Falk), a foul-mouthed and combative writer who's hired to spice up a soap opera, goads Martin into pursuing Julia even though she's 15 years older and one of the family. Then Pedro bases his scripts on their illicit affair, going so far as to use the couple's arguments word for word over the airwaves and their family's condemnation to spice up the plot.

With their unwitting help, Pedro launches an insipid show called "Kings of the Garment District" into ratings orbit, with an outrageous story line featuring a rich, powerful family torn apart by infidelity and incest. Scenes depicting the soap opera action include cameos by John Larroquette and Elizabeth McGovern and are gleefully overacted.

The movie is reminiscent of the recent hit "Soapdish" but focuses a little less on lampooning the entertainment business and a little more on developing the romance. And although "Soapdish" is the better satire, its characters don't have the depth that makes "Tune in Tomorrow" so believable and interesting.

Falk's portrayal of the scheming, frenetic Pedro is delightful, especially when he slips into various disguises--including a mustachioed French maid--to help further the couple's romance. Hershey and Reeves also make the romance believable, often letting simple glances speak volumes about how they feel toward each other.

"Tune in Tomorrow," (1990), directed by Jon Amiel. 90 minutes. Rated PG.

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