Meet Wally Sparks would be the last Rodney Dangerfield film to garner a theatrical release. Today it would have appeared on Netflix or one of the other streaming outlets but back in ’97 low-budget comedies like this could find their way to 1,500 screens. It’s an alternately amusing and tired look at a subject ripe for satire, trashy daytime TV talk-shows that feature more fighting than talking.
Wally Sparks (Rodney Dangerfield) is the fast-talking host of a raunchy, guilty pleasure TV tabloid show, Ala the Jerry Springer Show. Millions tune in each day to see the latest antics that are blasted over the airwaves. Wally is equally loved and loathed by America. Ratings are high but Wally’s show has caught the attention of a puritanical politician running for Senate in Georgia. But when advertisers and the FCC begin complaining about his outrageous program, the network president (Burt Reynolds) demands Wally tame his show down.
In an attempt at legitimacy, Wally goes after an interview with the conservative governor (David Ogden Stiers). So he goes under-cover with his undaunted producer (Debt Mazar), and ends up at a political party at the governor’s mansion, where he ends up in the midst of an unfolding sex-scandal made for television.
Rodney Dangerfield is the ‘unofficial’ king of the one-liners and Meet Wally Sparks is loaded with verbal puns and put-downs. A lot of the humor scores but at over 100 minutes the story lags. Easy Money and Back to School are still the golden standard for Dangerfield comedies, even Ladybugs has its moments, but Meet Wally Sparks is about a decade too late, in terms of Rodney’s energy and the topical of its subject.
Director: Harry Basil
Stars: Rodney Dangerfield, Debi Mazar, Burt Reynolds