Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nora Ephron|
|Produced by||Delia Ephron
Paul Junger Witt
James W. Skotchdopole
John L. Solomon
|Written by||Nora Ephron
|Music by||George Fenton|
|Edited by||Robert M. Reitano|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Release dates||December 21, 1994 (USA)|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Mixed Nuts is a 1994 Christmas comedy film directed by Nora Ephron, based on the French comedy film, Le Père Noël est une ordure (1982). Its cast includes Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Garry Shandling, Juliette Lewis and Adam Sandler. It was released to theaters in the United States on December 21, 1994, to neither critical acclaim nor commercial success, and is often considered by some to be one of the worst films ever made.
The plot begins on Christmas Eve, with ex-con Felix (Anthony LaPaglia) running from his angry, pregnant girlfriend Gracie (Juliette Lewis) as she chases him down the road. He accidentally runs into and damages a Christmas tree carried by two rollerbladers (Jon Stewart and Parker Posey). When an argument breaks out among them, a stranger, Philip (Steve Martin), unsuccessfully attempts to calm them down. They soon disperse.
Philip, head of the suicide-prevention hotline "Lifesavers," receives an eviction notice from his landlord, Stanley (Garry Shandling) after being unable to pay the organization's rent for several months. In addition to him, the hotline is staffed by cranky Mrs. Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) and the overly emotional and empathetic Catherine (Rita Wilson). Philip, who does not inform his coworkers of the eviction, attempts to convince his girlfriend Susan (Joely Fisher) (a loan officer in a local bank) to grant him a small loan. She refuses the loan before telling him that she has been secretly dating a psychiatrist for four months and is breaking up with him.
Despite Catherine's expectation that "you'd expect everyone to be thinking of jumping out of windows or slitting their wrists on Christmas Eve," the staff has received few calls. There is one phone call from a woman who is frightened by a notorious Los Angeles serial killer dubbed "the Seaside Strangler," and another from Chris (Liev Schreiber), a transvestite, who convinces Philip to disclose Lifesavers' office address. Meanwhile, an elevator malfunction leaves Mrs. Munchnik trapped on her way to Christmas Eve dinner. Philip eventually manages to pull her to the top of the elevator car when Gracie arrives and attempts to operate it. They are terrified that they will be crushed by the ceiling of the elevator shaft, but eventually they all manage to return to the office.
Felix arrives, begging Gracie to listen to him, and she throws a fruitcake at him, causing a large cut on his forehead. Philip and Catherine take him to a veterinarian to be treated for his head wound. While the doctor is distracted, he steals and quickly overdoses on dog tranquilizers and is taken to a hospital. Meanwhile at the office, the doorbell rings. Gracie quickly throws the door open, accidentally striking Mrs. Munchnik and revealing Chris in the doorway. She leaves him to care for the unconscious Mrs. Munchnik. When Philip returns, Chris is sitting on the sofa and convinces him to dance with him. When Mrs. Munchnik revives, she witnesses the dancing and threatens to sue Philip for withholding information of the eviction and for "inappropriate office behavior" before leaving.
Felix arrives at the office brandishing a gun, having escaped from the hospital. Chris gets shot in the foot after attempting to disarm him. Gracie takes it and shoots wildly around the office to empty it of ammunition. Two shots go through the front door, killing Stanley, who was standing behind it with a bag of his possessions. The sight of the deceased Stanley puts Catherine in shock. Philip prepares a bath to calm her down, realizes that he is strongly attracted to her, and they have sex. Gracie and Felix disguise the dead body as a Christmas tree, and the decision is made to take the "tree" and the bag to the boardwalk and leave it there.
As they all carry the body down the street, they encounter the now-vengeful rollerbladers, who barrel through the group. Felix tosses the tree and it crashes to the ground, revealing Stanley's body. When the police arrive, Philip falsely confesses to the killing, but Gracie pulls out the gun as proof of her guilt. Felix grabs it and runs to the roof of a nearby building, where he threatens to commit suicide. Philip soon convinces him to climb down, to much applause. Catherine hands Stanley's bag to the detectives, who search it. They find fishing line and kelp, the weapons of choice for the Seaside Strangler.
For killing the criminal, Gracie will receive the reward of $250,000. She offers to pay for Lifesavers' moving expenses, then promptly goes into labor. She gives birth in the first few hours of Christmas Day in a scene that resembles the Christian nativity scene. Philip then asks Catherine to marry him.
- Steve Martin as Philip
- Rita Wilson as Catherine
- Juliette Lewis as Gracie
- Anthony LaPaglia as Felix
- Madeline Kahn as Mrs. Munchnick
- Robert Klein as Mr. Lobel
- Adam Sandler as Louie
- Liev Schreiber as Chris
- Rob Reiner as Dr. Kinsky (the veterinarian)
- Garry Shandling as Stanley
- Jon Stewart as Doug Ferguson (Rollerblade Man)
- Parker Posey as a Carol Ferguson (Rollerblade Woman)
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||22 November 1994|
- Mixed Nuts – Dr. John (02:29)
- I'll Be Home For Christmas – Fats Domino (04:08)
- Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt (03:26)
- Jingle Bells – Eastern Bloc (02:25)
- Blue Christmas – Leon Redbone (02:24)
- What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? – The O'Jays (05:14)
- Mixed Notes – George Fenton (03:48)
- Grape Jelly – Adam Sandler (01:25)
- Christmas Melody – George Fenton (02:54)
- The Night Before Christmas – Carly Simon (03:39)
- Silent Night – Baby Washington (03:23)
- White Christmas – The Drifters (02:41)
According to the Box Office Mojo web site, Mixed Nuts had a gross of just $6,821,850. Rotten Tomatoes gives Mixed Nuts with a 7% "rotten" rating.
Critics panned the film. Janet Maslin's review in the 21 December 1994 New York Times mentioned a corpse depicted in the story and wrote that Mixed Nuts "is about as funny as that corpse and about as natural." Variety staff wrote, "Director/co-scripter Nora Ephron pitches the humor at a cacophonous level and displays the comedic equivalent of two left feet in evolving an absurdist, slapstick yarn. Truly alarming is watching some fine performers, including Kahn and LaPaglia, at their very worst." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote "The movie has a first-rate cast and crew; it's Nora Ephron's first directing job since the wonderful Sleepless in Seattle [...] Maybe there's too much talent. Every character shines with such dazzling intensity and such inexhaustible comic invention that the movie becomes tiresome, like too many clowns." Michael Dwyer in the Irish Times, reviewing Mixed Nuts upon its European release, called Ephron's film as "a truly pathetic effort", and "one of the worst films I have ever seen".
- Mixed Nuts(1994). SoundTrackCollector.com.
- Maslin, Janet (December 21, 1994). "Film Review; Hysterics All Dressed Up for the Holidays". New York Times.
- "Mixed Nuts". Variety. December 31, 1993.
- Ebert, Roger (December 21, 1994). "Mixed Nuts". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Dwyer, Michael (22 December 1995). "Some Turkeys, Some Golden". The Irish Times. p. 11.
- Mixed Nuts at the Internet Movie Database
- Mixed Nuts at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mixed Nuts at Box Office Mojo