I wish it could be Christmas every day, but not if it meant I ever had to watch this crap again.
This film is a bastard.
It is Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. Technically, I suppose it’s Christmas Eve almost everywhere, but since this story takes place in Los Angeles, we’ll just stick with that. Philip and Catherine, the two volunteers manning the SOS Friendship suicide helpline, are settling in for the night shift, only to caught up in what wants to be an ever-escalating cascade of classic farce as their office is invaded by a heavily pregnant lunatic, a gun-toting Santa Claus, a depressed transvestite and the odd neighbour with his even odder ukulele songs. And the landlord; mustn’t forget him.
Wow, this seems familiar, doesn’t it? I didn’t even realise Le Père Noël est une Ordure had been remade until I saw the “based on” credit at the beginning of this abomination, and now I really wish it hadn’t been. Writer-director Nora Ephron has transplanted that viciously hilarious French flick to a sunny mid-nineties Venice Beach and filled it with actors like Steve Martin, Liev Schreiber, Juliette Lewis and Anthony La Paglia, not to mention a distressingly young Adam Sandler. In doing so, she and her co-writing sister Delia have somehow managed to leave in almost all the jokes yet surgically removed every single molecule of humour. On a scientific level it is an astonishing achievement, but from a film-lover’s point of view it is a truly painful experience.
Most of the original film’s bigger laughs came from the cynicism and black comedy. This effort sees all of that taken out and replaced with a stock Hollywood happy ending which is badly handled and just plain doesn’t work. The nearest Mixed Nuts comes to having a saving grace is Madeline Kahn as Mrs Munchnik, who seems to be the only one with any awareness of how awful this film is turning out to be, and is determined to have as much fun as she can. Her scenes are the only ones that approach entertainment, but everyone else just brings it all back down again.
If you haven’t seen this film, count yourself lucky, then go and get Le Père Noël instead. If you have suffered through this already, I feel your pain. Let us never speak of it again.