Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jiminy Glick in La La Wood

There are some films that I give a lot of slack when it comes to my own personal ratings. Films that I intellectually realize are awful, or mediocre at best, and yet have their own aspects that affect me enough that I'll let their faults slide. Any horror movie that has a monster, preferably an intricate costume and not CGI, gets points from me, and I'll at least enjoy myself while it's happening. I don't, however, go so far as to blindly enjoy any movie in a particular genre. There was a time when I would have said that Zombies make every film better, but that was proven incorrect when I had to force myself to finish Zombie Lake and some of the later films in the Italian Zombi series. The cinematic debut of Martin Short's celebrity interviewer who subconsciously hates celebrities, Jiminy Glick, is one of those films that, despite it's faults, I ended up enjoying much more than I really should have.

There's actually a theme there, in that my personal enjoyment of Martin Short usually means I'll sit through an otherwise awful movie at least once. I'm not really sure where this comes from, although I suppose it could tie in to SCTV, in that I have a similar reaction to just about every other member of that outfit. Rick Moranis, John Candy, Dave Thomas? All of them get love for their contributions to that show that causes me to overlook some of their(often numerous) missteps. And it's a good thing for Mr. Short, too, since I don't exactly go out of my way to watch comedies in which the main actor uses prosthetic makeup, including a fat-suit, to play several roles.

The plot is a bit hard to describe accurately, because it's fairly convoluted while also, strangely, very thin. It concerns Jiminy travelling to the Toronto Film Festival with his wife and two(of his 4, according to the TV show) sons. This is of course an excuse for Short, as Glick, to interact with various celebrities, and these scenes are definitely amusing, and a few laughs can be had from them. Had the movie focused more on this aspect, it would most likely have been a lot funnier, if not as interesting. Instead Mr. Short has decided to use this template as a chance to make a very broad, and vague, attack on indie filmmaking and the marketplace feeding frenzy that film festivals have become. This is admirable, and I actually respect the film more for it's slight ambition than if it had simply gone the easy route, but the problem remains that the film's portrayal of indie films rarely rises above the level of Cartman's claim on South Park that all indie films are about gay cowboys eating pudding.

Recently, over on my friend Rik's blogsite, he's been discussing film criticism, and his personal attitude when approaching the disection of a movie. In this discussion he brought up David Manning, the nonexistent 'critic' Columbia Pictures created to give their film posters catchy blurbs. I mention this because it actually has relevance to the plot of this film, which has Jiminy Glick becoming the most buzzed about property at the festival after giving the only positive review to Ben DiCarlo's obviously awful film "Growing Up Gandhi." He falls asleep in the theatre, and instead of admitting he hasn't seen the film he improvises a list of generic, gushing blurbs. The producer of "Growing Up Gandhi" latches on to this and grants Jiminy a rare interview with Mr. DiCarlo, gaining this small town, local-TV critic national acclaim. Soon, everyone at the festival wants to meet with Jiminy Glick in the hopes of getting a profile boost.

This is probably the most successful of the films plots, but it too is a bit underdone. Instead of exploring this event, the film veers from subplot to subplot with so little attention given to any of them that it feels like a collection of sketch ideas instead of an actual story. There's a gangsta rap group that shows up so rarely, so infrequently, and so pointlessly that it's hard to see why they were in the film at all even after playing a pivotal role in the finale. The main plot of the film involves Jiminy becoming entwined in a murder mystery that echoes the famous Lana Turner/Johnny Stompanato incident, and David Lynch as a one man Shakespearean chorus.

And there is the aspect of this movie that urges me to lighten up on it's faults. Anyone who knows me is aware of my David Lynch fandom, and I make no effort to hide the fact that yes, I like this film primarily because it features a spot on David Lynch impersonation. But not just an impersonation, the film creates, at times, a pretty good approximation of a David Lynch film, with lots of fading into a candle flame, flickering lights, and highways at night. The accent, mannerisms, and speech patterns are all spot on, and become the source of some of the funniest bits in the movies. Unfortunately, Lynch as a character is relegated to a few odd appearances , until the film's plot finally becomes apparent... in the films last half hour. Overall the film meanders, fairly pointlessly, until the finale comes out of nowhere.

This unevenness is most likely a result of the movie being almost completely improvised, which is by nature hit & miss. That isn't to say a great movie can't come out of improvising(look at the 40 year Old Virgin, Borat, or Christopher Guest's entire filmography), this just isn't one of them. The film's comedy reeks of desperation, of people trying to think of something funny and coming up with only obvious, base sexual innuendos. That isn't to say that everything is subpar in this film. Martin Short is almost always funny, particularly when he's simply reacting to his cast mates, and John Michael Higgins is one of the standout performers. He, too, gets bogged down in crass sexual jokes, but he seems a bit more on the ball than most of the others.

So yes, I'd recommend this to non-Lynch fans, although I wouldn't suggest you buy it, as I did. It's a great rental, or look for it on cable. But being a Lynch fan does help.


Rik Tod said...

Haven't seen this yet, so I can't vouch for it. But I can tell you that our house is split over the issue of Martin Short: Jen can't stand him (though I've seen her laugh at him on Letterman a time or two), and while I don't shy away from him in a film, I must say that I have grown less fond of him over the years. I will probably check Glick out in the future, but I doubt that I will be watching it with Jen (who could not stand the Jiminy Glick show for even ten seconds).

(OK, I realize that I used the term "I must say" while discussing Martin Short, but I insist it was entirely natural and unforced. By the way, I took down a couple of the film criticism posts, including the one to which you referred above, because they are being rewritten. I'm my own worst critic, I suppose, but we knew that...)

The Working Dead said...

I can definitely understand a dislike of Martin Short. Especially lately, where his output has been pretty shady. However, he's got a certain amount of goodwill stored up, and even though I normally hate that overdone, crosseyed joke punctuation style, for some reason I find him doing it hilarious.