Archives / 2008 Sundance Film Festival

The Deal

Director: Steven Schachter

Screenwriters: William H. Macy, Steven Schachter

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival

Description

What does it look like when a Hollywood movie producer suddenly has nothing to lose? Meet Charlie Berns, a guy whose suicidal tendencies give him the chutzpah to con a major studio into a $100 million deal on a script he hasn't even read.

At the very moment when his idealistic screenwriter nephew knocks on the door, toting a solemn art-house period script about Benjamin Disraeli, Charlie has literally had it with life. But the trade papers have announced that a recently converted black action star is actively seeking Jewish material, so the serendipity is too absurd to resist. Charlie masterminds a plan, making it impossible for the studio not to green-light this project, which, while Jewish, couldn’t be further from an action flick. No matter. In Hollywood, perception is everything. Along the way, Charlie meets his match in Deidre Hearn, a sharp-witted development executive who sees right through his games but also recognizes that maybe his caution-to-the-wind philosophy has serious merit.

The mischievous charm in this smart screwball satire about renegade producers bamboozling a soul-crushing industry hinges on the wonderfully crackly Tracy-Hepburn chemistry between William Macy and Meg Ryan. Steven Schachter's tongue-in-cheek romp revels in sending up Hollywood stereotypes—zealous star, histrionic director, slippery suits—but also Ryan’s legacy as romantic comedy’s “it” girl, and even the notion that it’s possible to make a meaningful movie.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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