The Olive Films May 29, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 1971 Norman Lear comedy film "Cold Turkey" awesomely fills the void regarding an absence of witty character-driven fare summer fare at the cineplex. Sharing that "Turkey" costars Dick Van Dyke as a minister spearheading an effort to get his town to kick the habit and Bob Newhart as a corrupt PR man trying to thwart that effort should persuade folks regarding whom Lear is not an adequate draw to add this one to their collections.
A perspective to which Millennials can relate is to think of "Turkey" as an episode of the Amy Poehler sitcom "Parks and Recreation" in which Leslie Knope (Poehler) convinces her eccentric friends and neighbors in Pawnee, Indiana to stop smoking in order to get a big payoff.
The premise of "Turkey" is that Valiant Tobacco Company head Hiram C. Grayson (Edward Everett Horton) signs off on the PR idea of Merwin Wren (Newhart) to offer a $25 million award to any American town that quits smoking for 30 days. The obvious sales pitch by Wren is that the offer makes the company look good and will not cost a cent because no town will accept the challenge.
The second piece of the "sit" that paves the way for the "com" in this feature film is that the closing of an Air Force base has left Eagle Rock, Iowa in dire straits. The opening scenes that establish that this community essentially is a ghost town clearly establishes the extent of this desperation.
The same hope that the current bidding to be a headquarters site of an online Pacific Northwest retailer that shall remain shameless represents comes in the form of an Air Force general informing the powers-that-be in Eagle Rock that the town is a contender for a new plant. The catch is that the town first must improve itself to a level that makes it a desirable community.
Rev. Clayton Brooks (Van Dyke) convinces the aforementioned pillars of the community that the Valiant offer is the answer to the prayers of the community. Of course, this is the first nail in the coffin of Wren.
The figurative of cast of 1,000s of (mostly TV) stars comprise the great ensemble in "Turkey." We get Jean Stapleton of "All in the Family" as a housewife who comically overeats on going cold turkey, Paul Benedict of "The Jeffersons" as a very '70s style hypnotherapist who provides a hilarious form of contrary therapy, television/film star Barnard "Doc" Hughes aptly as hilariously especially addicted smoker Dr. Proctor, hilariously feisty old lady character actress Judith Lowry (who has two one-shot appearances on "Maude") as a senior citizen right-wing nut, etc.
The confidence of Wren remains high when the month begins but wanes roughly halfway in; that prompts him to go to the town and engage in hilariously frantic efforts to get at least one Eagle Rockian to light up.
Twists and hilarity galore build to the climax as Wren faces a literal ticking clock; this prompts the most unexpected surprise in the film that offers memorable commentary on corporate politics of the '70s and today.
The outcome is equally special and reflect the related Lear cynicism and talent for breaking the rules
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