Watch Stay Tuned
- 1 hr 28 min
In the 1992 film Stay Tuned, John Ritter plays Roy Knable, a hard-working family man who loves nothing more than plopping down on the couch after a long day at work and watching TV. His wife, Helen (played by Pam Dawber), wishes he would get out more, but Roy is content to live vicariously through the programs he watches. One day, Roy and Helen are approached by a mysterious salesman (played by Jeffrey Jones) who offers them a free trial of a new satellite dish that can pick up every channel known to man. Roy jumps at the chance, but soon realizes that there's more to the dish than meets the eye. Before they know it, Roy and Helen find themselves sucked into their TV set and forced to participate in a series of hyper-violent game shows and cartoons. They must navigate a treacherous landscape filled with homicidal clowns, killer robots, and more, all while trying to find a way to escape and return to the real world. Despite its relatively simple premise, Stay Tuned is a joyful, lively romp of a movie that subverts the usual tropes of the horror and action genres. John Ritter is a brilliant comedic actor, and his everyman charm is put to good use here as he reacts with bewilderment and exasperation to the bizarre world he finds himself in. Pam Dawber, too, is excellent as Helen, bringing a grounded, practical tone to the proceedings that helps ground the movie and give it real heart. Though she starts off as the voice of reason, she quickly becomes just as invested in the game shows as Roy, and the two of them make for an engaging, likable duo. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Stay Tuned, however, is its commitment to its premise. This is a movie that could easily have coasted on its central gimmick and coasted through a series of throwaway set pieces. Instead, it fully embraces the absurdity of its concept and constantly ups the ante, throwing new and inventive challenges at Roy and Helen at every turn. At times, the movie feels like a precursor to shows like Black Mirror or Rick and Morty, with its biting commentary on the nature of entertainment and its subversion of traditional storytelling conventions. There are even hints of a deeper, more sinister conspiracy at work, if you're looking for them. Of course, at its core, Stay Tuned is a comedy, and a very funny one at that. The movie delights in poking fun at the various shows and genres it's riffing on, from the cheesy game shows to the violent cartoons to the over-the-top action movies. There are countless sight gags, one-liners, and slapstick moments that will keep you grinning from start to finish. The film also benefits from some truly impressive special effects, particularly given that it was made nearly 30 years ago. The creatures and characters Roy and Helen encounter in the TV world are all vividly realized and wonderfully designed, adding to the sense of danger and excitement. All in all, Stay Tuned is a delightful piece of '90s cinema that has aged surprisingly well. It's a smart, funny, and thrilling adventure that will appeal to fans of all ages, and its commentary on the nature of entertainment is just as relevant today as it was back then. So kick back, grab some microwave popcorn, and stay tuned.