Martin Short migrates his corpulent, obnoxious celebrity interviewer from Comedy Central to the bigscreen in cheerfully shallow showbiz spoof. While stix won't exactly nix pic, this is certainly the first mainstream laffer for which a knowledge of David Lynch's oeuvre is an asset. B.O. will depend on how many fans can be coerced from in front of the tube.

Martin Short migrates his corpulent, eccentrically obnoxious celebrity interviewer from Comedy Central to the bigscreen in the swift, cheerfully shallow showbiz spoof “Jiminy Glick in Lalawood.” Comic murder mystery is built around Short’s by-now familiar journalism send-up — here set against the real-life backdrop of the Toronto Film Festival. While stix won’t exactly nix Glick pic, this is certainly the first mainstream laffer for which a working knowledge of David Lynch’s oeuvre is a distinct asset. B.O. will depend on how many fans of the comic and character can be coerced from in front of the tube, with ancillary sure to benefit from name recognition.

The film’s inspired wraparound device opens with, of all things, oddball helmer Lynch (Canadian-born Short, perfectly coifed and made up) pondering the notorious 1958 death of Johnny Stompanato in Lana Turner’s mansion — a clear nod to helmer’s “Lost Highway.”

Narrative then segues into Glick’s backstory, which finds him hosting a local entertainment show in Butte, Mont. Wedging wife Trixie (Jan Hooks) and sons Matthew and Modine (Landon Hansen, Jake Hoffman) into the car, Glick starts out for Toronto where he hopes to click at the annual star-encrusted festival that’s in full swing.

At first he’s unable to land any celebrities for interviews and is reduced at one point to standing a few yards away from Kiefer Sutherland and yelling “Kiefer! Kiefer! Kiefer! Kiefer! Kiefer!” He then sleeps through the premiere screening of “Growing Up Gandhi,” and over-compensates by giving spoiled young helmer Ben DiCarlo (Corey Pearson) a rave review.

On the strength of the grateful auteur’s first interview in five years, Glick becomes an instant Hollywood player and embarks on a series of encounters with real-life stars Whoopi Goldberg, whom he thinks is Oprah Winfrey; Susan Sarandon (“I’d love to be your handler!” he shouts with glee); and Forest Whitaker, whom he calls “the wonderful Forrest Gump.”

When he dreams of stabbing alcoholic actress Miranda Coolidge (Elizabeth Perkins) to death, Jiminy and Trixie stumble into a murder mystery that involves Miranda’s Euro-trash husband Andre Devine (John Michael Higgins), her daughter Natalie (Linda Cardellini) and publicist Dee Dee (Janeane Garofalo).

Lynch obligingly returns at the end to tie up the Stompanato connection.

When it sticks to the festival and celebrity spoofery, the comedy maintains a frantic, surreal momentum, with spot-on satires of the festival ecosystem, a blizzard of caustic name-dropping and sly movie references. Miranda’s in town to appear with “The Queens of Africa,” a Sapphic remake of the John Huston film, while somebody wins an award for a movie called “Goyim Goyim Gone” and Toronto’s best hip-hop nightclub is “Pimps and Hosers.”

But the material with his obese family too often depends on salty, adolescent one-liners that provide shock value guffaws but grow cumulatively wearisome.

Though the large cast and improvisational nature of the approach results in noticeable narrative gaps, helmer Vadim Jean (“Leon the Pig Farmer”) handles the multi-character shenanigans with brio. Nominal subplots get short shrift but feature in the denouement.

Short upstages himself as the spacey Lynch. Tolerance for the porcine Glick character remains an acquired taste, with his vocal gymnastics rivaling the sight of the actor in a fat suit.

Standing out from the crowd is Higgins, part of Christopher Guest’s unofficial rep company, a hoot as the floridly foul-mouthed Andre. Pearson shows a talent for improv as the Depp-ish DiCarlo. MAD TV vets Mo Collins and Aries Spears lead the under-utilized secondary players as a timid publicist and clueless rapper. Of the star turns, studio-shot interviews with Steve Martin and Kurt Russell work best.

Tech credits are crisp, with make-up by Kristina Vogel and Judie Cooper-Sealy’s wig work taking best in show. Red carpet footage was shot at 2002 edition of the Toronto fest, and pic was the closing night attraction of this year’s event.

Jiminy Glick in Lalawood

U.S.- Canada

Production

An Equinox Films (Canada) release of a Gold Circle Films presentation of a Gold Circle Films, Brillstein-Grey production, in association with Dolshor Prods. (International sales: Gold Circle Films, Los Angeles.) Produced by Paul Brooks, Martin Short, Bernie Brillstein, Peter Safran. Executive producers, Norm Waitt, Scott Niemeyer. Directed by Vadim Jean. Screenplay, Martin Short, Paul Flaherty, Michael Short, from the character created by Short.

Crew

Camera (color), Mike J. Fox; editor, Matt Davis; music, David Lawrence; production designer, Tony Devenyi; costume designer, Loraine Carson; sound (Dolby Digital), William Skinner; make-up, Kristina Vogel; hair and wig designer, Judie Cooper-Sealy; assistant director, Richard Coleman. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (closing night gala), Sept. 17, 2004. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Jiminy Glick/David Lynch - Martin Short Dixie Glick - Jan Hooks Natalie Coolidge - Linda Cardellini Dee Dee - Janeane Garofalo Andre Devine - John Michael Higgins Miranda Coolidge - Elizabeth Perkins Haygood Lewkin - Larry Joe Campbell Sharon - Mo Collins Mario "Fa Real" Greene - DeRay Davis Barry King - Carlos Jacott Ben DiCarlo - Corey Pearson Gunnar "MC Gun" Jorge - Aries Spears Jay Schiffer - Robert Trebor Randall "Big Phallus" Bookerton - Gary Anthony Williams
With: Landon Hansen, Jake Hoffman, Kiefer Sutherland, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Kline, Pat O'Brien, Sharon Stone, Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Susan Sarandon, Kurt Russell, Rob Lowe, Steve Martin.

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