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Film / Delirious

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Delirious is a 1991 comedy film about Jack Gable (John Candy), a Soap Opera writer who gets trapped in his own TV show. While this would be problematic enough, he discovers his typewriter gives him Reality Warper powers within. He is also mistaken for a character named Jack Gates, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, who he was going to introduce into the show. Becoming intoxicated with the power and blinded by his crush for the actress behind the show's Alpha Bitch, he soon finds himself writing himself into the show's absurdist So Bad, It's Good plot.

Delirious provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of afternoon soap operas and the odd plot turns they have.
  • All Just a Dream: Jack gets hit on the chin, getting a concussion, and then finds himself "transported" to Ashford Falls.
  • Author Powers: A soap opera writer gets hit on the head and wakes up as a character inside his own show. His typewriter comes with him, and he can use it to alter and plan out events in the show, even affecting other characters' behavior. However, a rival author has been hired to write show scripts as well, leading to a rare case of someone with Author Powers being in a Rage Against the Author situation.
  • Blind Driving: Jack does this at one point and survives, thanks to the typewriter.
  • Brick Joke: The fate of Laura, the actress behind Rachel Hedison. She ends up hosting a local game show... in Cleveland.
    • At the beginning of the movie, one of Jack's friends is incredulous he lets Laura have her own refrigerator in her dressing room. After Jack resolves to fire her, he sarcastically asks "Anybody need a refrigerator?"
  • Broken Pedestal: Laura eventually becomes this to Jack, especially through her character Rachel near the end of the film.
  • The Bus Came Back: Jack Gates comes back from Cleveland and shoots Gable.
  • Call-Back: Jack Gable uses his frustration at waiting on the cable repair guy to sidetrack Carter Hedison.
  • The Cameo: Gable makes a big deal out of the real Jack Gates being played by Robert Wagner, especially after he gets shot.
    "He can't be dead! He's Robert Wagner!"
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jack Gates, The Wolf of Wall Street (no, not that one).
  • Deconstructive Parody: Of standard soap opera plots, characters and the business behind them.
  • Dueling Movies: With SoapDish.
  • Epic Fail: At one point, Ty Hedison becomes so anguished and angry that his father keeps favouring his brother over him that he grabs an antique vase from the Tang Dynasty and, during a fit of jealous rage, throws it violently to the floor in an attempt to smash it... only for it to bounce harmlessly off the floor without so much as chipping it.
  • Fourth Wall Shut-In Story: John Candy plays a Soap Opera writer who get trapped in his own series, but he can use his typewriter to edit the events the way he wants.
  • Genre Blind: Jack Gable seems to think that as the writer of the show who's world he is inhabiting which allows him to turn himself into a dashing tycoon, he is invincible. This also results in him claiming the real Jack Gates to be Robert Wagner due to Wagner being cast as a result of Stunt Casting. This seeming invincibility plus inability to distinguish Wagner from his in-universe character causes Jack Gable to brush off the "real" Jack Gates at every turn. This ends up coming back to bite Gable HARD; when Gates returns to take vengeance on Gable, even while Gates is slowly approaching with a shotgun, Gable brushes off Gates' Tranquil Fury by making fun of what he says and telling Wagner-Gates to go do another mini-series. This just angers Gates even more who blows Gable away with his shotgun, though it turns to have been All Just a Dream.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": What Jack does when he discovers what the typewriter can do.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jack wants to maintain the artistic integrity of his show and be The Last DJ of soap opera writing. The problem is, while he is a talented writer, his producers are correct that he's fixated on the show's star, Laura Claybourne, to an unhealthy degree. He keeps trying to write her Oscar Bait plots where she's the hero while the producers note she's not a heroic character or even a particularly likable one. Laura is also shamelessly using Jack's crush to manipulate him into doing this. To his credit, Jack agrees with them by the end and has Laura fired from the show.
  • Literal Genie: Jack gets drunk, makes some typos, and the events reflect those.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Jack Gates is entirely capable of murder because, well, Jack wrote him that way.
    Jack Gable: What are you doing here? I sent you to Cleveland.
    Jack Gates: I should kill you for that alone.
    Jack Gable: Oh, go do a mini-series somewhere.
    Jack Gates (cocks gun): Nobody crosses Jack Gates.
    Jack Gable: Yeah, yeah, nobody crosses Jack Gates. Great line!
  • One-Word Title: Delirious.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: An in-universe example; Jack Gables is confused why sweet-natured Janet is suddenly acting like the sinister and manipulative Rachel out of nowhere. He then has a "Eureka!" Moment and realizes his bosses are planning to do a character replacement in real life. When he wakes up, he agrees to firing Rachel's actress but insists that Janet remain sweet-natured as originally intended.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Cleveland. Jack Gates gets sent there by Gable; when he returns, Gates says that alone is reason enough to kill Gable.
    • Upon first waking up in Ashford Falls, Gable first assumes he is in Hell and has been punished to spend eternity on his own show.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: One of the extras does this, after Gable writes in a blackout.
    Elderly Man: The elderly man exits.
    Jack Gable: Now I've got them speaking stage dialogue!
  • Reality Warper: Jack's typewriter allows him to make anything he writes into reality. He actually abuses it less than he might have since he never makes use of it to control the minds of the people around him (he's tempted, but stops himself).
  • Rich Bitch: Rachel Hedison, and her actress to a lesser extent.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: Played with; when Gable first wakes up in Ashford Falls Hospital after a car accident, he assumes he died in the crash, is in Hell and is being punished by spending eternity on his own show and almost breaks down crying, though it turns out he was just knocked unconscious upon impact.
  • Serious Business: Jack trying to repair his typewriter in time to save Janet. The repairman on the phone treats it like a bomb defusal.
    "This is delicate work, you moron!"
  • Stunt Casting: Raymond Burr as the head of the Hedison family. Also in-universe as the Sherwood hired Robert Wagner to play Jack Gates during sweeps week.
  • Unconventional Food Order: Mariel Hemingway’s character orders a signature oddity to the disgust of the deli’s owner: “Lox and cream cheese on cinnamon toast? Get it out of here!“
  • Unusual Euphemism: Apparently so many characters have been killed by brain tumors on Jack's soap opera that "giving them a brain tumor" has become slang for getting fired on the set. It serves as Laser-Guided Karma when Jack finally decides to have Laura let go from the series.
    "Oh no! You're going to give me a brain tumor!"
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: At one point, Jack writes himself jumping through a window (which magically appears) to save Janet. Though she exclaims "Where did that window come from?" once he rescues her it appears not to be a fact worth mentioning again.