Mixed Nuts (1994) – A Review
A Venice Beach crisis hotline call center is the stage on Christmas Eve for a bunch of eccentric characters for a supposed uproarious night of farcical comedy.
There’s a lot of talent on display here – Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Robert Klein, Anthony LaPaglia, Rita Wilson, Rob Reiner, Live Schreiber, Adam Sandler (some folks like him), Juliette Lewis, Garry Shandling, in a story written and directed by Nora Ephron. What can go wrong?
A lot! In fact, EVERYTHING!
Recently, somehow I’ve been managing to raise the level of awfulness with my holiday movies. Everytime when I think I’ve seen one the worst Christmas-themed movies ever made, it’s eclipsed by another. First, I thought Deck the Halls held that title, then I experienced Christmas with the Kranks.
Well now folks, Mixed Nuts reigns supreme on the top of the tree of horrible Christmas movies! Simply put – this movie sucks!
I knew before watching this it was supposed to be bad. It had gotten terrible reviews and I remember when it came out in ’94 how badly it bombed, so I was prepared for the worst. But I was even surprised at how terrible it is.
It’s got to Martin’s worst movie he’s ever done. In fact, it might be the worst movie for everyone involved, apart from Sandler. This was just the early beginnings of him doing awful crap for decades to come.
There’s little point in covering the story, it’s basically just that one line description. No one really plays any kind of real character in this and there’s little story going on. The biggest plot elements is Martin’s call center being evicted from their building and LaPaglia being an unhinged violent ex-con.
The humor involves insipid slapstick, falling down and a lot yelling. It’s meant to be a comical farce, but there is nothing remotely funny or inspired that takes place at this hotline center.
There’s a dark comedic vibe meant to be running through the film, but none of the jokes are funny. You can imagine it, they get a depressed Steven Wright on the phone contemplating suicide and he shoots himself, Martin throws a fruitcake out the window and it smashes Khan’s windshield. An obscene pervert continuously calls to talk to a woman. Schreiber is dressed in drag. Sandler does his annoying voice and sings.
It’s really a very long string of stupid gags and not one single one lands. It’s amazing!
The movie feels very chopped up too. Like, scenes just take place randomly and there’s no progression of the looniness that is meant to take place over the course of this night. The timing of the comedy feels very off. The pace drags and makes scenes feel three times longer than they actually are. The comedy doesn’t succeed in any part!
The actors are desperately trying to sell the silliness that is meant to make us laugh, but it all comes off so embarrassing I just wanted to look away. The direction is also extremely poor. Scenes are staged in such bland ways there is nothing to hold your interest on screen. There is really nothing going on here.
Before watching this I had no idea this was a remake of a French comedy, 1982’s Le pure Noel eat uno ordure (Santa Claus is a Stinker). I never saw it, but supposedly it is a popular cult comedy.
What’s funny, is how Mixed Nuts seems to play almost exactly how I would instinctively envision a poor American remake of a French farce would play. It’s very stagey, the energy feels off, the broad comedy that probably plays better in the original comes off awkward and futile here.
I can’t really blame the actors for this. We know they’re all talented and can do much better (aside from Sandler I feel), but it seems they were too hindered by a terrible script for any of them to be given a chance to elevate any part of this.
It’s true, there’s only so much talented actors can do with a bad script and here it’s almost like everyone resigned themselves to it. The results are abysmal.
There’s little more to say about Mixed Nuts. This was a depressing movie to sit through and a waste of time. At points I was questioning whether I could make it to the end. I did and I regret sitting through all it.