I probably shouldn’t like the indie comedy “The Deal” as much as I do. There have been plenty of movies spoofing the bizarre wheelings and dealings of the filmmaking process, and many of them have been better than this screwball take on a little known moment in Jewish history. Still, no one plays a loser like William H. Macy, and he has a great supporting cast around him to back up an unlikely movie premise, which means there are just enough lighthearted, satirical moments in this film to make me recommend it as my DVD pick of the week.
Charlie Berns is a suicidal movie producer who sees a glimmer of hope in his nephew (Jason Ritter) who shows up on Charlie’s doorstep with a script about British politician Benjamin Disraeli. The script is an earnest look at Disraeli, who was the first and only British prime minister of Jewish heritage. Berns only sees potential in the script when he realizes he can convince a recent Jewish convert and African-American adventure movie star, Bobby Mason ( L.L Cool J), to star in the flick. Sure enough, a movie executive (Meg Ryan) comes on board to develop the project and together they must somehow manage egos, exotic locations, and their mutual attraction to each other.
I guess I find part of this movie’s oddball charm in the fact that we rarely see anything about Jewish culture in a comedy outside of a Ben Stiller yuckfest. in “The Deal,” Jewish tradition isn’t just a gimmick for cheap laughs–well, at least not all of the time. And I really did learn a bit about Jewish history in the process.
So if you can forgive a few raunchy moments, this movie is a lighthearted caper whose spirit is in the right place and, while not a classic, is one movie anecdote for the mid-winter blues.