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« Two Serious Questions About Birthday Boy Ralph Fiennes | Main | Most Coveted Things from 2016 Films »
Thursday
Dec222016

Christmas Classics: "Mixed Nuts" (1994)

Team Experience has been sharing their favorite Christmas flicks. Here's Chris...

I'm going to make the assumption that most of you haven't seen my favorite Christmas movie, Nora Ephron's Mixed Nuts. "Classic" may be a stretch as it was both a box office and critical bomb, and has since been lost to time. The film has all of the makings of a cult following that has yet to materialize: a completely silly premise, insane moments, and a cast quite literally full of familiar faces. No really - the main cast includes Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Juliette Lewis, Liev Schreiber, Adam Sandler, and Rita Wilson. Anthony LaPaglia wears a Santa suit most of the movie. Even the throwaway parts are played by Rob Reiner and Joely Fisher.

But the film is an utter daffy farce with even more off the wall subplots than famous faces. Let's do a short run down of what makes the film so crazy and special...

Parker Posey and Jon Stewart On Rollerblades
Look no further for bizarre cameos in Mixed Nuts than Posey and Stewart's sporty couple that are constantly having their Christmas tree ruined by LaPaglia's shenanigans. Posey also wears a red leather fringe jacket which is precisely what one wears to rollerblade for Christmas trees.

It's About A Suicide Prevention Hotline
Not only are they a floundering non-profit, but Martin has to hide their eviction from the team! One of the more interesting aspects of the film is how it tackles holiday season anxieties and not the usual stressors like family squabbles and tradition. Beyond the mania, it understands how for some of us the season can mean reflecting on an uncertain future.

Madeline Kahn Gets Stuck in an Elevator and Raps About It
This scene speaks for itself, a great entry point for the uninitiated to the film's lunacy. Naturally, Kahn is the film's funniest player as the curmudgeonly widow Mrs. Munchnik, a more delightfully surly performance from her than usual. She even gets to knock boots on the beach.

There's a Serial Killer Subplot
The Seaside Strangler is on the loose and everyone is fraught that they may be the next victim, even if they don't match the killer's pattern. Quick: name another holiday movie with a murderer that isn't a horror film!

Liev Schreiber in Drag
Yes, the film has its problematic moments in some of the most 90s ways possible. However, I'd argue that Schreiber's trans woman Kris is somewhat progressive for the era: she fights back, she flirts, she's the most outspokenly moral. When someone else knocks her identity, they come off as the asshole.

Fruitcake as Plot Device
Everyone gets super defensive about a fruitcake that keeps getting passed around as an unwanted gift, until it magically makes Kahn see the error in her surliness before looping back to unwanted gift once again.

The Third Act Revolves Around a Dead Body Disguised as a Christmas Tree

Because at this point of course it does. And in doing so it pulls together all unrelated threads of eviction, serial killer, and rollerblades set to full Aretha Franklin "O Tannenbaum" glory.

At Least They're Together
But most importantly, Mixed Nuts is about the outsiders with no place to call their own banding together for the holiday. How often do we see a Christmas film about the rest of us, huddling over Chinese takeout with that one weird guy with a ukulele? The film embraces that this time of year can be sad and frustrating for some, but there's still joy in coming together with those in solidarity.

Mixed Nuts can be found on Amazon and iTunes!

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Reader Comments (8)

OMG! I was thinking about this film the other day. One of my favourite Christmas movies. Madeline Kahn is divine in it. Haven't seen it in ages. I wonder how it holds up. Thanks!

December 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarek

haha this sounds Bonkers!!! I can't wait to check it out

December 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

I absolutely love this bonkers movie! It's a farce so I actually don't understand the critical bashing it received.

December 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

I thought it was underrated as well. I liked it a lot. Plus, Liev Schrieber looks really good in drag.

December 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Actually based on a French movie (in turn based on a play) called "Le père Noël est une ordure" ("Santa Claus is an ass-hole"). The original is also a classic that endures. Check it out if you can find it.

December 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStéphane

The unique Madeline and the criminally overlooked Rita Wilson... good suggestion! I haven't seen it in ages.

December 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Stéphane - I'd tried for years to no avail!

December 22, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Thank you!!!!!!! Finally! Justice for one of my favorite Nora Ephron!

December 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIan

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