Martin Short is a guy capable of truly hilarious comedy. I know this because he somehow manages to squeeze just a few chuckles out of the generally terrible TV-to-movie adaptation known as Jiminy Glick in Lalawood. One could take the "glass half empty" approach and wonder how Short manages to deliver only a half-dozen mild chuckles after 90-some minutes on the screen -- while I choose to be a bit kinder and say "Meh, not great, but it's got some solid laughs." Plus it's clearly made for the movie geeks, so I have to give it a head-start just for that reason.
Former SNL standout, celebrated stage performer, and deliverer of genuinely hilarious performances in Three Amigos, Innerspace, and Father of the Bride, Martin Short is one of those amiable talk-show staples who feels like an old pal. Sure, he might not be as consistently amusing as he was 15 years ago, but he's always a welcome presence in movies, TV, whatever. Martin Short is an easy comedian to like.
So when he popped up on TV a few years back playing a satirical entertainment reporter called Jiminy Glick, I considered it an amusing little novelty. But as so often happens with amusing little novelties -- it grew into an unnecessary and misshapen piece of cinematic "whatever."
The story here is that Jiminy Glick, entertainment reporter out of Butte, Montana, is heading up to the Toronto Film Festival to (hopefully) rub elbows with the stars. But since Jiminy is a small-market nobody, as well as a blithering buffoon, he doesn't really get the red-carpet treatment. But after he interviews a moronic film director, Jiminy becomes the talk of the festival, which allows Mr. Short to enlist old pals like Kevin Kline, Kurt Russell, Steve Martin, and many others, for cameo appearances that are more "pleasantly amusing" than they are "laugh out loud hilarious."
But Lalawood has a nasty case of schizophrenia; When Short chooses to focus on lampooning the world of junket journalism and the self-important imbeciles who populate that world, the movie's pretty spot-on and intermittently quite funny. Much of this section of the flick has an off-the-cuff and (obviously) improvisational air. On the other end of the spectrum, in every conceivable fashion, is a lumbering subplot that involves a murder, a mystery, and the bizarre presence of Martin Short as director David Lynch.
Considering how often Short's central story fumbles the ball, it's a very good thing that the comedian remembered to enlist some grade-A supporting players. Improv genius David Michael Higgins scores a whole lot of laughs as a profane and clueless Euro-trash movie director; Corey Pearson earns a few strong chuckles as clueless indie darling; and Carlos Jacott steals a scene or two as a smarmy executive producer. Also quite amusing are a pair of interviews segments that Glick holds with Steve Martin and Kurt Russell. And it's pretty telling when the very best parts of your "movie version" -- are the exact same things that worked just fine on the "TV version."
But that's the main problem with Jiminy Glick in Lalawood; it's ten minutes of dead air in order to get one solid belly laugh. It's easy to assert that there's simply not enough meat on the Jiminy Glick bones to warrant a feature-length comedy vehicle, which is why I choose to assert such a thing right now. Take the very best moments of this overlong farce, and wedge 'em into a 30-minute Jiminy Glick special on Comedy Central, and you'd really have something. Unfortunately, this version runs about 90 swollen minutes, and there's simply not enough of a foundation to support such a flimsy structure.
Again, it's always great to see Marty Short on my TV screen; Here's hoping his next project is more worthy of the guy's skills, because this Jiminy Glick character grows real old, real fast.
Video: The film is presented in a rather handsome Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) format, and the picture quality is quite strong indeed. It's a low-budget comedy flick, but the transfer is rather impressive.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, with optional subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Extras: A pair of audio commentaries should certainly please the Glick faithful. The first one is with Martin Short and his writing/producing partners Michael Shirt & Paul Flaherty. As expected, any audio track with Martin Short on it is bound to be a little goofy, but there's also lots of background info on the flick to be found. The second commentary is a solo track with director Vadim Jean, which is quite dry by comparison, but hey, if you're a diehard Jiminy Glick in Lalawood enthusiast, you'll enjoy the director's input.
You'll also find a 16-minute block of deleted scenes, and a pair of trailers for Spaceballs: Collector's Edition and "MGM Means Great Movies."
I'm sure there's a really great satire waiting to be written about the tacky and obsequious nature of (nearly all) "entertainment journalists," but unfortunately, Jiminy Glick in Lalawood is not it. And even when the flick does land a good shot to the chops of Hollywood's faker side, it's followed by a fairly interminable subplot that nearly ruins all the fun.