Writer-director Jake Kasdan and executive producer Judd Apatow—both veterans of the brilliant-but-canceled NBC series Freaks and Geeks—know a thing or two about the Sisyphean struggles to do quality, personal work in the meat market of network television. Their cautionary tale of an Apatow-like writer-producer (David Duchovny) as he runs the humiliating gauntlet known as pilot season won't exactly surprise anyone familiar with Blake Edwards' S.O.B., Christopher Guest's The Big Picture, or myriad other insider portraits of bastardized artistic genius. But Kasdan doesn't just set out to bite the hand that feeds him, and at its best, The TV Set is wry and accurate about the messy tangle of art, commerce, and family, as talented creative types try to stay true to themselves and put food on the table. The movie is also a treasure trove of inspired comic personalities, including Justine Bateman (luminous as Duchovny's very pregnant wife), Sigourney Weaver (as the network president who swallows her prey whole), and relative newcomer Fran Kranz (as the talented but insecure young actor who quickly learns that, in TV, less is rarely more). Now, whether anyone would rather see this than curl up on the sofa with the latest episode of Slut Wars is another question entirely.
Ioan Gruffud in awe of network exec Weaver.
Opens at Uptown, Fri., April 20.Rated R. 89 minutes.