Friday, January 1, 2016

Mixed Nuts (1994) Review: I Will Miss My Dad: Gary Prather

Mixed Nuts (1994)

Mixed Nuts is a comedy starring Steve Martin. It is an odd comedy and fits Martin's choices at this point as it follows other odd films Leap of Faith (1992) and A Simple Twist of Fate (1994) and comes right before a safe attempt at a hit, Father of the Bride 2 (1995). Nuts might have felt like a safe choice as it was being pitched. It was written by two great wits (Nora and Della Ephron) and directed by Nora who just directed Sleepless in Seattle (1992) and would follow Mixed Nuts with the wonderful comedy Michael (1996).

Mixed Nuts does not come up much in conversations about film. It is of value to me because it is the last film that I saw with my dad, probably the last film he saw in a theater.  My father died on Christmas Day.

He was not a filmgoer. I know he liked race car films and some Burt Reynolds comedies but not much else.  He worked as a truck driver and briefly raced cars. He was kind enough to accompany me to a screening of Mixed Nuts when I was a teenager. He did not make it through the whole film. His rather unbalanced wife started screaming and crying during the movie and was asked to leave. He told me he would meet me after the film which he said was too depressing

The film is depressing. It concerns a suicide hotline that is about to be put out of business, a serial killer on the loose, two dead bodies (played by very funny people that should have had more scenes: Steven Wright and Garry Shandling) and lost relationships.

                                      "Being alone is so much lonelier on Christmas" : Mixed Nuts

My father was afraid to be alone. I remember when he had a terrible fight with his wife and called her about 50 times none of which she answered. I promised myself, after witnessing that, I would never be that lonely or desperate. I have always had good luck with loves of my life, especially Vanessa who I have been with for ten years and my father liked very much. I wish he could have had similar luck.

Mixed Nuts is not very funny, though a scene where a group of people is hiding a dead body in a Christmas tree has more laughs than it should. And the film has an odd, off-kilter charm that always makes it watchable.I really like the scenes with Liev Schreiber as Chris, a cross dresser who does not fit in with his family.I could relate to him in some ways.

My father loved cars. I never really learned how to drive well and have never seen a car race. My father drank and was very interested in being a ladies man. I was interested in books and movies. At times, I felt I must have been a disappointment to him since we had nothing in common, and I never knew what to say to him. If I was he never said so. In fact, he used the word proud every chance he got. After the movie was over  that night in 1994, he was nowhere to be found. It took him two hours to remember to get me; he was terribly unreliable but then we went out and had a late dinner at a truck stop and all was forgotten.