Knight at the Movies ARCHIVES
Comedy on the red carpet and in Hyper Space:
Jiminy Glick in La La Wood, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
5-4-05 Knight at the Movies column
By Richard Knight, Jr.
Martin Short has finally relented and allowed one of his signature characters, the self-involved celebrity
interviewer Jiminy Glick, to be the basis for a movie. The result, Short’s first full length improv film, Jiminy
Glick in La La Wood is what I like to think of as a fast food movie. It’s not terribly good for you but it sure
tastes good while you’re watching it. And like the title character, everything in it – from plot to characters – is
When you think about it, it makes sense for Short to use Glick as the basis for a feature. After all, none of his other
patented characters is really someone you want to spend much more than the length of a sketch with. Ed Grimley
never gets beyond, “I must say” and the crazy dance, Nathan Thurm, the sweaty, scummy lawyer is insufferable
after a few minutes, Jackie Rogers, Jr., the albino, “groovy” entertainer with the long hair is downright creepy, and
a little of Irving Cohen, the cigar smoking Jewish agent goes a long way.
What sets the porcine, distracted Jiminy Glick apart from the others, aside from an audacity and indifference that
takes your breath away, is a certain innocence. He’s also not a mean spirited character or so far from reality (like
Ed Grimley) that you can’t imagine sitting next to him in a movie theatre.
The plot focuses on Glick descending on the new La La Wood – Canada via the Toronto Film Festival – from his
home base in Montana. He’s dragged along his devoted, trailer trash, pill popping, co-dependent wife Dixie (the
hilarious Jan Hooks) and their two super sized twin boys, Matthew and Modine (named after that actor’s “riveting”
performance in Birdy). Two other previous Glick children, Morgan and Mason (named after the son of James
Mason and big time lothario on the Hollywood scene in the 70s, one presumes) have disappeared off the radar
Added are a host of Hollywood archetypes with archetype names including Miranda Coolidge, an aging glamour
queen (Elizabeth Perkins, who tells one of her fans, “You need to fuck off now”) and Ben DiCarlo, a self-centered
male action star with a hankering to change his image (Corey Pearson, who plays a re-imagined Gandhi as a hunk
in swaddling clothes). Then there’s Miranda’s husband, Andre Divine, a Russian avant garde director who’s using
her to further his career and butchers the English language at every turn (“Don’t touch me, I’m not a homoist” is
one bon mot). John Michael Higgins is obnoxiously funny and plays the role with long hair and a goatee, a
complete 360 from his role as the über gay dog owner in Best in Show. A subplot mirroring the decades old Lana
Turner-Johnny Stompanato-Cheryl Crane murder involves Miranda’s lesbian daughter and her publicist Dee Dee
(Janeane Garofolo, underused here) is also part of the mix and there’s lots of gay and lesbian references
When Jiminy arrives at the festival no one wants to talk to him but after praising DiCarlo’s wretched “Gandhi”
remake, he’s suddenly a celeb himself and given access to the big stars. Like the “Primetime Glick” TV show,
Short’s genius shines brightest in these unscripted interviews – with Steve Martin and Kurt Russell the highlights
here. Real life celebrities swirl throughout the real festival and its surrounding events where much of the film was
shot (the celeb count here almost rivals Robert Altman’s The Player) and this gives the movie a huge lift, allowing
Short a smorgasbord of egos to troll (at one point Glick mistakes Whoopi Goldberg for Oprah Winfrey for example).
Funny film parodies (including The African Queen reinvented as a lesbian “Queens of Africa”) are also filtered
throughout the film – to the good – while the murder plot is to the bad. I also wonder if any but the most aesthete
of film buffs will truly appreciate Short’s David Lynch impersonation and the bit is repeated too many times. So is
the constant nod to The Shining, with the twin blimp adolescents riding around the hotel on their Big Wheels. And
weight sensitives be warned: this is a film filled to the brim with unapologetic fat jokes.
Short has not had the prominent movie career that his fellow SCTV and SNL pals or early successes promised but
this is a decided return to form and I laughed consistently throughout the movie. And sitting next to real life
celebrity interviewer Bill Zwecker in the screening room while watching Jiminy Glick gave the movie an added
dimension for me. Just my good fortune.
Who would have expected a blend of science fiction and comedy to ever find a happy cohabitation on the screen?
Space Balls is still orbiting around the Planet Bomb, Galaxy Quest doesn’t really count as it’s mostly earth based,
and so is the humor in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. So to say that I was surprised by the bouncy, utterly
delightful The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an understatement. Never in a million light years did
I suspect that the movie would happily percolate on so many levels.
Part of this surprise is because I was never able to get through the books that my friend Judy kept urging me to
read back in the late 70s. “You’ll love them! They’re so British, so droll, so looooony” she would say, adopting a
mock English accent. But Judy loved anything British – from Monty Python to the Who – and wasn’t always to be
trusted and though I tried I could never seem to get past the third page.
After seeing the delightful, fizzy, and yes, loooooony film version, I’m glad that I never imprinted the print edition
onto my imagination. Not unlike a lot of other folks, if I read the book first, the movie usually pales in comparison.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a surprising exception to that rule and Hitchhiker’s Guide is another. It just
might be time to gives those books another go.
Martin Short walks tall, a sci-fi classic takes off