Very Mixed and Very Nuts
"Mixed Nuts" does exactly what it says on the tin or at least in the title, with a mix of characters and comedy it is quite literally nuts. Maybe it's a little too nuts or in fact back in 1994 when it was released a bit too nuts because whilst it stars Steve Martin and a host of recognizable faces it's not one of Martin's popular comedies, yet watching it now it strangely works. The thing about "Mixed Nuts" is that not only doesn't it feel like a Steve Martin movie it doesn't feel like a Nora Ephron movie either and almost feels like it's been adapted from a stage play where characters enter and leave a solitary location, although to be honest there is more than one location. To put it simply "Mixed Nuts" is strange, disjointed and really doesn't have much of a storyline but curiously the curious collection of characters and circumstances at Christmas end up being amusing.
It's Christmas and the help line Philip (Steve Martin - Leap of Faith) runs expects to be busy but Philip has other things to contend with especially with building owner Stanley (Garry Shandling) planning to evict him and the business. But whilst Philip has that to worry about he also has a lot more to deal with from the angry Mrs. Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) who is fuming when she discovers she maybe out of a job whilst Chris (Liev Schreiber) a cross dresser shows up and takes a shine to him. Also taking a shine to him is Catherine (Rita Wilson) who works for the help line but Louie (Adam Sandler) who lives down stairs is sweet on her. And then there is Gracie (Juliette Lewis) who is heavily pregnant and having a row with her partner Felix (Anthony LaPaglia - The Client) who shows up at the building.
So I've mentioned that "Mixed Nuts" doesn't have much of a storyline and it isn't a lie as this is a comedy built on quirky characters and quirky humour. As such whilst we get this set up of Philip running a rather inept help line and facing eviction from the building that doesn't end up really being the story. Instead the story is all about the characters who come and go from that building be it the upset member of staff Mrs. Munchnik who seems unable to leave, first getting stuck in the elevator and then her car has a flat battery or the cross dresser who shows up in desperation over being different. Add to this a romantic love triangle, a pregnant woman and her problematic partner as well as a vet who ends up being called upon to treat an injured human.
Now all of this is disjointed and really only comes together through the fact that many people show up at the help line's premises. It gives it that feel of a single location stage play where people enter and exit a solitary room only to return later. There are other locations in "Mixed Nuts", there is a veterinary practice as well as the street by the beach which gives the movie its nutty ending but for the most this is about one room and those who come and go.
It is very much the characters who come and go which provide the amusement especially Liev Schreiber as Chris a cross dresser. But they are an eclectic bunch of characters that really don't fit together from Steve Martin as the harassed Philip desperately trying to keep things running through to Adam Sandler as a simple minded tenant who fancies phone operator Catherine. If that sounds very strange and disjointed its because it is. Juliette Lewis as a pregnant woman is simple funny in her bossy way whilst Madeline Khan is amusing as the finickety Mrs. Munchnik.
What this all boils down to is that "Mixed Nuts" is basically very mixed and very nuts and nothing like what you may expect from Steve Martin or director Nora Ephron. As such this may not be Steve Martin at his best neither is it Nora Ephron at her best but the curious craziness of the characters and the comical circumstances is fun if watched as a collection of comical characters rather than as a movie with a story.
Tags: Christmas Movies