Mixed Nuts AKA Lifesavers
R2 - United Kingdom - Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Sam Scott (28th July 2008).
The Film

English language remakes. Three words to strike disgust into the heart of many movie fanatics. Whilst the current wave of Hollywood-style Americanisation is aimed at Asian films including The Ring (2002), The Grudge (2004) and My Sassy Girl, the nineties saw a steady stream of European cinema being remade with a healthier budget and well known cast. Mixed Nuts (1994) is no exception. A remake of the hugely popular Le Pre Nol est une ordure (1982), Mixed Nuts is all about three people who work at Lifesavers, a helpline for people in distress, and the events that unfold one Christmas bringing several unlikely characters into the building.

So who are these 'nutcases'? Who are the ones in real need of help (in the film, not their career Mr. Martin)? Well, Lifesavers employs three people, all struggling in the love department. Philip (Steve Martin - Planes, Trains and Automobiles) is the 'owner/manager' of the helpline with Mrs Munchnik (Madeleine Kahn - A Bug's Life) and Catherine (Rita Wilson - Jingle all the Way) being the other two operators. After an eviction notice, Mrs Munchnik getting stuck in a lift, a serial killer on the loose and a dead landlord, laughs soon follow. Throughout the film we are introduced to another range of characters including Louie (Adam Sandler), an annoying neighbour who is always singing songs and playing a ukelele, Dr. Kinsky (Rob Reiner), a veterinarian friend of Philips, Chris (Liev Schreiber), a cross dressing outcast who likes to feel wanted and lovers Felix and Gracie (Anthony LaPaglia and Juliette Lewis) who have fallen out and submerged on the group through Gracie's friendship with Catherine (they met at AA... a great place to pick up guys apparently).

Despite having a fantastic story to initially work from and a superb cast, director/writer Nora Ephron has only managed to do an average job of bringing the film to fruition. The laughs are there, but rather than belly laughs, they are groans. The zany side to Steve Martin is there, but his performance is severely lacking compared to his movies from the 80's, and Juliette Lewis has a role perfectly suited to her as what can only be described as a future mental patient, yet she fails to shine. There are also a few dull moments of obvious padding to flesh out the runtime that could have been done far better than just having the characters repeating themselves shouting. Yet, although there are a lot of bad points, the film is still somehow enjoyable. The small glimpses of hilarity (the rollerbladers), and the fantastic turn by Liev Schreiber make the film worthy of at least a rent, and even a bargain bin buy if you're a fan of the cast.

Video

Columbia TriStar have given us an anamorphic transfer at an ever so slightly cropped 1.80:1. Unfortunately, whilst noticeably better than VHS, it is not without it's problems. There is too much artefacting and a few noticeable scratches to the print. There is also noticeable edge enhancement throughout.

Subtitles have been provided in Dutch, English, German and Turkish and are clear throughout the film.

Audio

Unfortunately, it's pretty obvious little work has been done for this UK release. Whilst the American R1 got a 5.0 track, all we get here is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track, available in the original English, or as a German dub. Seperation is minimal and even though it's a dialogue driven film, it could have done with a 5.1 track for the occasional action lead sequence. There is no background hiss and volume levels are consistent.

Extras

Nothing. Not even a trailer.

Packaging

The DVD is packaged in a regular keepcase.

Overall

A mediocre film on a mediocre disc that could have done with some extras.

The Film: C Video: C- Audio: C Extras: F Overall: C-

 


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