Jiminy Glick in Lalawood
In Jiminy Glick In La La Wood, Martin Short illustrates a classic deal with the devil: his comic creation is so bizarre, so unique, that you either love him or you hate him, with little middle ground. I happen to love the quirky fellow--fat suit, blow-dried hair and all--not to mention that magnetic voice that screams out to be imitated. But unfortunately, this slipshod movie doesn't do him justice.
Jiminy Glick is a local TV news personality in Butte, Montana. You know the type--an entertainment reporter who mostly interviews homegrown talent but occasionally jets to Hollywood to hobnob with the big wigs. Glick doesn't quite make it that far. His assignment is the Toronto Film Festival, and he makes the trip with his wife Dixie (played with ferocious white trash bravery by an unrecognizable Jan Hooks) and his oddly silent twin boys, Matthew and Modine (named after their father's favorite actor). Although Glick is a no-name, a fact he's completely oblivious to, his fortunes change when, after falling asleep during a screening, he unwittingly gives the atrocious movie a glowing review. Through a chain of events, he becomes the hottest thing, as stars line up to grant him interviews. Through an even more bizarre chain of events, Glick gets caught up in a murder mystery as well, after waking up in bed with an interview subject who has been stabbed. Before he knows it, he is embroiled with the starlet Miranda Coolidge (Elizabeth Perkins), her daughter Natalie (Linda Cardellini) and her boorish Eurotrash husband Andre (John Michael Higgins).
Glick, despite being a glutton, is an acquired taste. He almost defies description--one part clueless star struck Hollywood wanna-be, one part jaded interviewer. Short introduced Glick on his short-lived daily talk show before he was spun off in into his own series on Comedy Central. But the movie deftly shifts Glick's origins to the Midwest to make him more of a fish out of water. Stuck in the insular, dated Hollywood of Rona Barrett and Tom Snyder, Glick will often interrupt his guests, if not correcting them on the details of their own lives if they don't gibe with his notes. Case in point, he confidently asserts that Steve Martin is Jewish as a lead-in to a line of questions. And thankfully, Short has called upon his friends in the improv and sketch comedy world to fill out Jiminy Glick's cast of characters, who serve him well. John Michael Higgins, most notable for his contributions to Christopher Guests' improv epics, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, is a standout. Perkins and Cardellini (Velma of Scooby-Doo fame) are an appropriately brittle Hollywood mother and daughter. And not enough can be said of Hooks' turn as the repulsive Dixie, a spot-on embodiment of confused Midwest entitlement. Rounding out the cast is DeRay Davis as Mario ''Fa Real'' Green, a rapper turned movie actor, and Corey Pearson as a stuck-up rising star who grants Jiminy that first interview.
Short and his writers must have feared that Glick would run out of things to do if he wasn't embroiled in a good old-fashioned murder mystery. It's the kind of noir that seems to lend itself to Hollywood, perhaps loosely inspired by the likes of Sunset Boulevard, but here, the creaky storyline only grinds things to a halt. Maybe it just doesn't feel right since the story takes place in Canada, and besides, Glick is no sleuth. The plot seems like all boring business, and you can't wait to get back to Glick doing what he does best. As far at the direction goes, it can either be part of the fun, with quick cuts, hilarious non-sequitors and great timing--or it can get out of the way to let the comedian work his magic. For the most part, the director Vadim Jean uses the latter technique. He keeps it all low-key and lets Short do his thing. That said--and maybe it's the drab, overcast Toronto setting--the movie looks made for television.
Lame plotline and poor production values notwithstanding, Jiminy Glick in La La Wood is such a personal effort that propelled by the sheer comic brilliance of Martin Short, it's hard not to want it to succeed.