Another example of the once-popular skit-compilation film (e.g., KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE), this movie is, like nearly every other example of its genre, a hit-or-miss affair. But at its best, TUNNEL VISION offers surprisingly sharp, biting satire that straddles a quite fine line between undergrad cynicism and achingly authentic insight into contemporary malaise.The year is 1985, and the country has been taken over by an ultra-sleazy TV station called Tunnel Vision ("The No Bullshit Network"), which caters to the worst in human nature. The film's rather weak framing device features a congressional hearing in which a highlight reel of a typical day's programming is shown. What follows is a racy melange of off-color TV commericals, sitcoms, and similar prime-time ephemera; it's a formula that has been made well known by SNL and its imitators.
A lot of the humor is admittedly simple bad-taste exercises (as in a wildlife program on "Stalking the Wild Faggot"), but the film as a whole is underscored by a delicious post-Watergate cynicism: society is going straight to hell, so let's poke fun at it while we can. One faux commerical sings the praises of an environmentally unfriendly oil company that has killed millions of fish, thereby, we're told, helping correct the overpopulation problem. Another, for a hair-bleach called "Last Chance," exhorts lonely viewers to go blonde so they may attract rapists. It's so gleefully nasty, and it's effective because many of its riffs are (or have become) uncomfortably close to reality--the skit on land disputes in the Middle East, to mention one example, could very well have been conceived yesterday.
It features some familiar faces--John Candy shows up to advertise a stun gun that can temporarily incapacitate your pesky relatives--but what you remember about the film is its wicked vision. The satire has a real edge; its humor is pitched somewhat higher than the average Hollywood comedy.TUNNEL VISION has been perennially underrated; it's superior to that '70s skit-comedy touchstone THE GROOVE TUBE (though perhaps not to KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE). It's a good rental for those who like their comedy black.