Did you know there’s a movie starring Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, Madeline Kahn, Juliette Lewis, Anthony LaPaglia, Liev Schreiber, and Adam Sandler? Did you know this movie also features Rob Reiner, Robert Klein, Garry Shandling, Steven Wright, Parker Posey and Jon Stewart, plus a one-line, before-he-was-famous appearance by Haley Joel Osment?
Did you know this was a Christmas movie set at a failing suicide hotline in Venice Beach?
This movie came out in 1994, the same year that Friends debuted, three years after Steve Martin did Father of the Bride and one year before Adam Sandler made Billy Madison.
I’m not saying it’s the greatest movie ever made. None of the actors are at their very best and the script has its rough spots. It handles Liev Schreiber’s character (a deep-voiced brunette in a cocktail dress and wig whose family mocks him by calling him Arnold Schwarzenegger) less delicately than it would today. Juliette Lewis and Anthony LaPaglia provide most of the movie’s high points, and Adam Sandler’s sweet ukulele song to Rita Wilson will remind you why he became popular in the first place if, like me, you’re not his biggest fan. Madeline Kahn is as wonderful as ever, with her delightful soprano and perfect coiffure.
And then there’s Venice Beach. Beautiful, strange Venice Beach in the early nineties.
This movie is like a time capsule. The actors, the fashion, the setting–even some of the jokes. It’s also a great help when you play Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon. It will never be Scrooged or Christmas Vacation but it’s not really trying to be–it’s just a really wild, weird movie that makes me laugh out loud,even as I groan at its convenient twist ending. I saw it once on someone’s list of the worst movies ever made but I’ve found that a true cult classic always draws a little vitriol.
And that’s just what Mixed Nuts is–a true cult classic.
Even if that cult is just me.