Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Movie Review: "Mixed Nuts" (1994)

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"Mixed Nuts"
Director: Nora Ephron
Year: 1994
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

The employees of a suicide prevention hotline spend Christmas eve tending the phones and dealing with their own issues, including their impending eviction.

"Mixed Nuts" is a dark screwball comedy directed by Nora Ephron, who also wrote the film along with her sister Delia Ephron. It focuses on the lives of the employees of a suicide hotline on Christmas eve. It stars Steve Martin as Philip, the boss at the hotline, as well as Madeline Kahn and Rita Wilson as his two employees Mrs. Munchnik and Catherine. Mrs. Munchnik is a bit cold, blunt, and by-the-book. Catherine, on the other hand, is warm, caring, and is willing to bend the rules and do whatever she can to help someone in need. Catherine also has a romantic interest in Philip, though up until that evening, he had been in a relationship himself.

Being a dark comedy, "Mixed Nuts" has a lot of humor, including stuff you would not typically laugh at in real life. The very idea of setting a comedy at a suicide prevention hotline on Christmas eve may feel a bit insensitive, but it is handled in a very effective way. Joining the hotline employees are Juliette Lewis and Anthony LaPaglia as Gracie and Felix, a couple with quite the combative relationship and a baby on the way. These two are friends with Catherine and Gracie, and even more trouble starts when Gracie stops by the hotline after a bad argument with Felix. Also in the cast is Liev Schreiber as the large, manly looking woman/possibly transgender woman (the film is never quite clear on this fact) named Chris, who called the hotline in distress only to show up at the office after Philip breaks the rules and gives her the address. Rounding out the cast are Adam Sandler, Gary Shandling, Jon Stewart, and Parker Posey in smaller roles, all of whom pop up from time to time to aid the plot in one zany way or another.

When it came out in 1994, "Mixed Nuts" was both a financial and critical flop. However, in our minds, it works. We enjoy this weirdly dark mix of witty silliness. We always laugh a lot throughout the film at the over-the-top absurdity of everything that happens on the eve of Christmas, both amazed and shocked at some of the things that take place and are said. Let's face it, we all get stressed at Christmas, so it is fun to watch these people play out and do some horrible things knowing we've felt the same...well, minus the murder part. This movie won't be for everyone and not everyone will like, but we sure enjoy it.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 7%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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