Meet Wally Sparks - 1/2*

Rodney Dangerfield turns up the tackiness in Meet Wally Sparks, a very lowbrow comedy. Rodney stars as Wally Sparks, the trashy and obnoxious host of a trashy, obnoxious tabloid tv talk show. When he offends away nearly all his sponsors, his boss (Burt Reynolds) gives him one week to reform his show. Wally and his producer (Debi Mazar) travel to Georgia in search of a show saving gimmick, and find one in the form of the conservative governor (David Ogden Stiers), whose alienated son invites Wally in. Rodney Dangerfield provides no surprises here, portraying virtually the same tacky and rude character as in every movie he’s been in. However, unlike prior successes like Back to School, Meet Wally Sparks just doesn’t spark. The setups for the various jokes are labyrinthine and torturous, and most have little or no payoff. The one or two that do provide big laughs are then drawn on for ages, making what originally was raunchily humorous now excrutiatingly painful. The secondary characters don’t help much at all. The governor’s son is so annoying that you instantly wish someone would just strangle the kid. An unneccessary romantic subplot between the governor’s daughter and Sparks’ son is a sure cure for insomnia. And the pathetic slapstick antics of the network stooge out to stop Sparks are tiresome and boring. Several cameos get reflex laughs, but aren’t long enough to enliven the rest of the film. Rodney Dangerfield has proven he can be funny with the right material, but he can’t do much with the bland fare in Meet Wally Sparks.

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