Jiminy Glick in Lalawood
Running Time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
Audio: English – Dolby Digital 5.1
October 4th, 2005
I really like Martin Short, and think he is both a dynamic, funny actor and an extremely innovative comedian. With respect to the latter form of entertainment, I also believe that Short has created some truly interesting characters. Among them is Jiminy Glick, a grossly obese, amazingly inept, and utterly abrasive entertainment reporter from a small TV station In Montana that grills Hollywood’s elite, much to my amusement. Unfortunately, Jiminy Glick In Lalawood is an example of “too much of a good thing”, a poorly constructed and surprisingly unfunny film that waters down his creation, and a movie even Martin Short’s biggest fans will be hard pressed to enjoy.
The most notable problem is a familiar one, which often rears its ugly head when feature films are crafted around characters created for sketch comedy or television shows. Quite simply, many of the antics that are so hysterical for short periods of time often become tiresome and tedious with prolonged exposure. This has been demonstrated for us by many of the Saturday Night Live regulars endeavoring to make the leap to the big screen, as the bulk of their original characters are better suited to small supporting roles than carrying a film. Again, this is because they were created to be amusing in short sketches, and their peculiarities or signature behaviors typically cannot sustain viewers’ interest for 90 minutes or two hours.
I had hoped otherwise, but sadly, the same holds true for Jiminy Glick in Lalawood. In the film, Mr. Short reprises the aforementioned title character, which has been around for years, and is probably best known for the Comedy Central series Primetime Glick. Though I really liked the character in his former setting, the cheesy, contrived storyline in this film was a poor fit for him, and it undoubtedly contributed to the small time reporter becoming increasingly annoying as his coverage of the Toronto Film Festival continued. And as if Jiminy was not annoying enough on his own Lalawood, we must also endure his randy, potty-mouthed wife Dixie (Jan Hooks), and brainless twin boys, amusingly named Matthew and Modine (Landon Hansen and Jake Hoffman), who have accompanied him to Canada.
Moving along, we get to see Jiminy bumble around the Festival, blissfully unaware of how he embarrasses himself with nearly every spoken word, until a rather implausible and contrived scenario allows him the rare opportunity to interview a guarded actor/filmmaker named Ben DiCarlo (Corey Pearson). You see, Mr. DiCarlo’s latest epic, titled “Growing Up Gandhi”, was universally trashed by all of the competent film critic, but Jiminy (who slept through it!) gives the movie a stellar review, thus piquing the director’s interest in him. Interestingly, securing this exclusive chat with Mr. DiCarlo (by falling asleep, of all things) does wonders for Jiminy’s career, as everyone who is anyone suddenly wants a sit-down with him.
Meanwhile, Jiminy also manages to get tangled up in a bizarre murder-mystery subplot, after becoming concerned that he killed actress Miranda Coolidge (Elizabeth Perkins) after drinking a few too many. Apparently, Miranda had been in Toronto to promote her new movie, a risqué reinterpretation of the classic motion picture The African Queen, and when it appears she has been murdered, our portly reporter has an extremely vivid dream that prompts him to investigate the incident. By the way, this subplot also features Martin Short portraying famous director David Lynch, who serves as something of a host to the rather lame murder-mystery unfolding over the picture’s latter stages.
You know, in reading what I have written, it sure sounds like there is a plot of some sort here, but it really is very superficial, existing merely to allow Martin Short to get from one of Jiminy Glick’s rants and raves to the next. There is simply not much substance or structure to be found in Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, and the narrative is not moved forward in a particularly efficient manner (e.g. there was too much of Jiminy bantering with Dixie for my liking) either – not that there is much of a narrative to move forward.
While on the subject of narrative (or lack thereof), in listening to the audio commentaries for this review, my suspicions that very little of the film’s dialogue was scripted were confirmed. In theory, giving great improvisers like Martin Short and Jan Hooks the freedom to go wherever inspiration takes them is a good idea, but for whatever reason, the end result is surprisingly lackluster. Again, a few laughs are sprinkled throughout, and director Vadim Jean garners most of them via Jiminy’s raucous interviews (you can see some of the participants fighting back laughter) with A-list celebrities like Kurt Russell and Steve Martin, who offers some interesting opinions on how actors might revive their careers.
As for the star of the show, Martin Short is as energetic as ever, and the makeup work that transforms him into Jiminy Glick is absolutely terrific. Somehow, Short also found the time to serve among the film’s writers, so it should be no surprise that there are a few good lines in this film, such as when Glick obliviously introduces veteran actor/director Forest Whitaker as Forrest Gump, who is a fictional character! By the same token, however, it is shocking that so much material falls flat in a format that allowed Martin Short so much latitude – a format he should have owned. It is almost like watching Tiger Woods fly the green from 40 yards out, or Michelangelo being unable to sketch a bowl of fruit on a blank canvas.
Getting back to the interviews, Martin Short is in top form on a couple of occasions. To be truthful, most of the celebs come-and-go fairly quickly, but the interviews with Steve Martin and Kurt Russell are great fun! For me, these segments were easily the highlights of the film, and it sure was a hoot to watch Martin and Russell trying hard not to break up as Short lambastes them as Jiminy Glick. Unfortunately, they are also reminders of how poorly the rest of the film fares in comparison. Of the other featured performers, Jan Hooks is decent as Mrs. Glick, and Corey Pearson does pretty good work as the reclusive Ben DiCarlo, generating a few laughs in his own chat with Jiminy.
Before I sign off, I do want to acknowledge that part of the reason I so disliked this film was that I had such high hopes for it. Still in looking at it objectively, I do not hold any doubt that the opinions I developed after watching it would have been any different had I placed no expectations whatsoever on the film. That being said, I will pay this motion picture one compliment - Jiminy Glick in Lalawood is more ambitious than most films of this nature, which just try to rake in a quick buck from the core audience that likes the main character. This ambition comes in the form of failed but serious attempts to satirize our obsession with celebrities, and the overblown world of entertainment “news”.
Sadly, however, for all of its good intentions, Jiminy Glick in Lalawood does not deliver on any of these attempts. As such, Jiminy’s inauguration to the big screen is dismally ineffective, as a comedy, a satire, or as pure entertainment, thanks to a horrible back-story worthy of neither our time nor Martin Short’s talent. If this is all of Jiminy Glick you have seen, I can only urge that you not judge the character too harshly. Instead, leave this mess on the shelf and check out the “Prime Time Glick” show, which suits the portly entertainment reporter that cannot keep his foot out of his mouth so much better!
SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
While the film was a big disappointment, the folks at MGM home video offer it up in a good-looking anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer that belies its low budget origins!
To begin with, colors are reproduced nicely, with no evidence of smearing, over-saturation, or other distractions. Black level holds strong throughout the feature as well, giving the image a good sense of depth, and whites are clean, bright, and noise-free.
Fine detail is not quite outstanding, but is still plentiful, often extending well into the background of each scene. Last, but certainly not least, the image is also free of all but the most minor traces of compression artifacts or edge enhancement. For a comedy done on the cheap, Jiminy Glick in Lalawood looks rather impressive!
WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
The audio transfer is a fairly straightforward Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix, which should come as no surprise given this film’s subject matter. There is nothing particularly notable here, good or bad, as frequency response and clarity are both up to par, and dialogue is never difficult to make out. As you might imagine, the front of the soundstage is where the bulk of the action occurs, so you won’t be using this disc to demonstrate your sound system’s prowess, but it does its job well overall.
Audio Commentary #1
Writer/star Martin Short and producers Michael Short & Paul Flaherty contributed the first of the two audio commentaries on the DVD, and it is easily the more of the two. Martin Short is, of course, the one who keeps things lively here, but interspersed in between his humorous comments is plenty of information on the development of the film, the locations, casting, the improvisational nature of the film, and so forth.
If you count yourself in among those who enjoyed Jiminy’s visit to “Lalawood”, I recommend giving it a listen.
Audio Commentary #2
Commentary number two features only one speaker, the films’ director Vadim Jean. For obvious reasons - less talking overall and an absence of Martin Short’s quick wit - it should be no surprise that this is a tougher listen than the first commentary. That being said, the director does have some interesting insight into the production, and covers some aspects of the dysfunctional Glick family from a different perspective, so it may still be worth a listen for fans.
A total of 10 scenes trimmed from the film have been included here, many featuring Jiminy and his wife babbling. These sequences play continuously, running for a few ticks short of 16-minutes. As I have said many times, comedy is a subjective thing, but I found none of these sequences to be worthwhile. If anything, they were all wisely trimmed from the film, and considering what was left in, that is really saying something. If you choose to give them a look, I sincerely hope you enjoy them more than I did.
The trailer for Be Cool kicks off the disc, and there is also an “MGM Means Great Movies” promo and the trailer for the Spaceballs: CE DVD. If cover art is your thing, you can also check out the covers for Clifford, Get Shorty, Grand Theft Parsons, Heartbreakers, Coffee and Cigarettes, Mad Dog Time, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
(on a five-point scale)
THE LAST WORD
While Jiminy Glick sets its sights a little bit higher than most films of a similar nature, it fails to hit any of its targets, in large part due to a horrible back-story and surprisingly ineffective improvisation by Martin Short and Jan Hooks. Yes, there are some funny moments here and there, but they do not come close to balancing out the many jokes that do not work, the disjointed murder-mystery subplot, or the fact that Jiminy Glick becomes extremely annoying by the film’s end.
Unfortunately, as a DVD, this release also leans towards mediocrity, for though there are a fair amount of bonus features included, their quantity definitely exceeds their quality. Specifically, the commentary containing Martin Short is fun at times, but both commentaries are probably only worth a serious investment of time for true fans, and the deleted scenes are also quite forgettable. At least the disc is technically sound, which is surprising for a film of this type/budget, but it doesn’t come close to offsetting this film’s many problems.
In closing, I can only hope that people will forget this movie existed, and not shy away completely from the Jiminy Glick character. There really was some good material in “Prime Time Glick”, which is a format much better suited to the character than this bloated mess. Sorry Jiminy, but I have to recommend that people pass on your invitation to “Lalawood”.