Dir. Vadim Jean. Canada-US. 2004. 90 mins.
To the immense credit of star and creator MartinShort, Jiminy Glick In Lalawood almostworks. To the discredit of Short the writer, the film falls short of thecomedian's vision because of a script that is unwilling to push the boundariesthe character does. Like most outgrowths of small screen concepts the result isa TV special with theatrical pretensions.
Still,it's in no way as embarrassing as most of the films based on Saturday NightLive characters. The film should draw business until word of mouth identifiesthis modest effort as something that can wait for DVD. On that score, the DVDpotential is tremendous, because of the potential for bundling it with materialfrom Short's Prime Time Glick, a TVseries on Comedy Central in the US.
Abrilliant physical comedian, Short has created some small but perfect comiccaricatures. One of these is Jiminy Glick, a porcine celebrity TV interviewerwhom Short inhabits to interrogate genuine celebrities - a situation comedyenvironment similar to Barry Humphries' Dame Edna Everage or Garry Shandling'sLarry Saunders.
Unliketheir relatively consistent characters, the Glick persona is utterlyunpredictable. If comedy were a mental illness, Short in Glick mode is manicdepression meets Tourettes Syndrome. He shifts from biting sarcasm tobottomless vacuity in a sentence, from stage whisper to gale-force outburst.All of this is delivered from the rubber-mouthed Short in a rubber "fat" suit.The resulting "interviews" are generally uproarious, especially when thesubject is struggling to play along.
Inbuilding a feature around this narrow premise, Short and co-screenwriters PaulFlaherty and brother Michael Short have gone to some length in establishing amilieu for their tubby protagonist to inhabit when he isn't making a fool ofhimself and his guests on television. He goes to the Toronto International FilmFestival, there to make a fool of himself in the city's streets and hotels andfor the filmmakers to capitalise on the presence of many famous faces (theproduction shot during the 2003 event) for Jiminy to molest along the redcarpet.
Short andCo. take one structural step into the absurd by establishing the entire film asa spoof of paranormal TV programmes such as TheTwilight Zone and David Lynch's TwinPeaks, indeed, Short opens the film with a dead-on impersonation of Lynchas a presenter in the manner of TheTwilight Zone's Rod Serling.
Littledoes the cherubic buffoon from Butte, Montana know that he is about to relivethe sensational crime drama that surrounded film star Lana Turner when herdaughter murdered her abusive lover. At least that's the idea.
The filmdevolves into a series of mostly-amusing vignettes that do not follow, letalone coalesce into a greater whole. Glick and his repulsive wife (think TammyFaye Bakker) and their repulsive twin boys - "Modine and Mathew," says Glick,"We named them for Matthew Modine" - would be classic Americans abroad anywhereelse but Toronto, which is not much different from the US. The concept of theToronto festival being a playground for Glick's antics doesn't have theanticipated pay-off for a similar reason.
The Glickshtick works best as one-offs in the studio environment; on a red carpetcrowded with gushing hacks, even he doesn't stand out. Real movie stars likeSteve Martin, Kurt Russell, Kevin Kline and Kiefer Sutherland are on-hand butGlick's exchanges with them are so disassociated from the plot that they are adistraction rather than an enhancement.
As for theplot, for all its Lynchian lampooning, it turns out to be what it usually is insuch movies: an afterthought. The same goes for the supporting charactersplayed by actual cast members. The reliable Janeane Garofalo is underused whileothers who have played out the limited humour of their roles keep coming back.John Michael Higgins' play on a Eurotrash film-maker is underwritten and inpoor taste.
Ironically,the film is a victim of the expectations it establishes with the audience -expectations it's not prepared to meet. Vadim Jean is credited as the directorbut there's no evidence of any direction having taken place. No doubt about it:bringing together all of these disparate elements and making it work would havebeen a significant achievement. The bottom line is: it doesn't.
Prod co: Gold Circle Films
Int'l sales: Gold Circle Films
Prods: Paul Brooks, MartinShort, Bernie Brillstein, Peter Safran
Scr: Martin Short, Paul Flaherty, Michael Short
Cine: Mike J. Fox
Prod des: Tony Devenyi
Ed: Matt Davis
Mus: David Lawrence
Main cast: Martin Short, Jan Hooks,Linda Cardellini, Janeane Garofalo, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Perkins,Corey Pearson