MIXED NUTS, which originally had the title of LIFE SAVERS until
that title tested poorly, is the latest Steve Martin movie. In MIXED
NUTS he runs a crisis prevention center called Life Savers. People who
are about to shoot themselves call the center as do terminally ill
patients, men in drag, lonely people and, of course, ha ha, people who
just want to talk dirty.
Oops, I forgot to tell you a key fact; theoretically, this is a
comedy. Their brand of humor is created by shouting at each other, by
providing loud music that tries to put you in a laughing mood, and by
having numerous sight gags. A typical sight gag is people
rollerbladding down the street carrying a Christmas tree between them.
An irritated boyfriend then runs into them and knocks the tree over.
Boy, that one sure put me in stitches.
In order to give you a proper grasp of the scale of the quality of
the script (written by the director Nora Ephron), let me provide you
with the very best piece of writing in the whole movie. Steve Martin
calls his girl friend, and she tells him she is breaking up with him
since she has been dating someone else for 4 months. She then
complains that she wanted to tell him, but "I did not want to do it
over the phone like this. I wanted to fax you, but you don't even have
a fax!" As soon as your uncontrollable laughter has subsided after
reading that last sentence, you can continue reading this review.
There are other people in the show, and in fact, the movie is
filled with quirky characters. I will not embarrass them by mentioning
any of their names other than Juliette Lewis who was so bad that she
deserves a special mention.
The movie is set in Santa Barbara but the camerawork is so cutesy
that it manages to make one of the loveliest towns in California just
look silly and dreary.
The director should be shot. Surely when she watched the dailies
she realized that all of the so called jokes were falling flat. Then
again, perhaps she did and that is why she had them start shouting at
each other and why she added the zippy soundtrack to makes us forget
the "plot". The producer should have gotten a different writer and
probably another director or better yet, he should have just given up
on the whole project.
I think Steve Martin is the best comedic actor that there is.
Nevertheless, he was pathetic in this movie. I am such a big fan of
his that I lay most of the blame on the character he was given. If
Ephron had just let Martin cut lose and ad lib some it would have made
for a much better time at the movies.
MIXED NUTS takes forever to finish but actually runs only 1:37.
It is rated PG-13 which I agree with. I recommend you avoid this show
at all cost, and I give it 1/2 of a star because, although the movie
was a disaster from start to finish, at least it was more stupid than
offensive. [Finally, since you are all dying to know, the title MIXED
NUTS comes from the fact that the lead character's Dad was killed by a
truck of mixed nuts - another memorable line.]
Copyright © 1994 Steve Rhodes