For three seasons on Comedy Central, Jiminy Glick, Martin Short's fat, obsequious, know-nothing celebrity interviewer, bombarded his guests with relentless salvos of inanity. A parody of the already ably self-parodying celebrity interview show genre, "Primetime Glick" allowed Short to sit opposite the likes of Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Ben Stiller and Ellen DeGeneres and, careening between an intimate squeal and an authoritarian baritone, ask things no man not swathed in substantial padding would dare ask -- whereupon he would grow instantly bored or annoyed with their answers and wind up upending entire bowls of snacks into his maw before tipping over his chair.
As clueless, fawning, inappropriate and dumb as a Stone Phillips, Glick didn't lampoon one celebrity interviewer in particular. He rolled the squinty softball probing of Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, the self-satisfaction of Jay Leno, the rote weirdness of Larry King and the obsequiousness of James Lipton into one giant, sweaty mass of hysterical enthusiasm and deep disinterest -- the jiggly embodiment of the scattered, voracious and lazy id of the celebrity news grazer before our eyes. (The slick, preening stars opposite him didn't fare much better, but they were almost beside the point.)
A fan of the first season, I retain an inordinate fondness for the addlepated host, a fondness I realize is not shared by everyone. How you feel about Short's alter ego will probably determine how you feel about "Jiminy Glick in Lalawood," a giddy, gassy piece of lunatic fluff that recounts Jiminy's rise to fame. In interviews, Short has described Glick as a moron with power, and in "Jiminy Glick in Lalawood," he takes us back to the early days, when he was merely a moron.
An obscure celebrity interviewer at a Butte, Mont., station, Jiminy is interviewing a local actress-perfume saleslady for the umpteenth time, shortly before heading off on his first trip to the Toronto Film Festival. On the trip, he's accompanied by his crazed, alcoholic wife, Dixie (Jan Hooks), and his beefy twin sons, Matthew (Landon Hansen) and Modine (Jake Hoffman), wondering aloud whether, as a journalist, it would be untoward of him to ask for autographs. When his reservation at the Fairmont turns out to be a reservation at the Fairmount, a Lynchian fleabag with shades of the Overlook Hotel and Barton Fink's Los Angeles lodgings, Jiminy encounters the actual David Lynch (played by Short as well), who tells him he's working on a film about an obscure celebrity interviewer who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery.
Produced by Short and Paul Brooks, and directed by Vadim Jean for under $10 million, "Jiminy Glick in Lalawood" milks the festival atmosphere for all it's worth, plopping Jiminy in the middle of what he desperately hopes will be his milieu. Stranded on the red carpet, desperately calling Kiefer Sutherland's name, the large man in owl glasses might as well be a cricket.
Then, by luck, he falls asleep during his first screening and winds up giving a star-vehicle turkey its only good review. The star of "Growing Up Ghandi," a re-imagining of the life of the young Mahatma as a Sikh-pounding pugilist, is none other than the reclusive pretty-boy du jour, Ben diCarlo (Corey Pearson), who decides to grant Glick his first exclusive interview in five years. Overnight, Jiminy is propelled into the spotlight.
Caught up in the insanity of instant celebrity and slipped a roofie, Jiminy wakes up the next day convinced he's murdered the alcoholic movie star Miranda Coolidge (Elizabeth Perkins). Something about the events of the night before -- involving her insanely crass Eurotrash manager-producer husband, Andre Devine (John Michael Higgins), her press agent, Dee Dee (Janeane Garofalo), and her daughter, Natalie (Linda Cardellini) -- echoes the true-life killing of Lana Turner's lover by her daughter.
Improvised based on a 40-page plot outline co-written by Short, his brother Michael and Paul Flaherty, "Jiminy Glick in Lalawood" is funniest at its most tangential and unhinged. And Jiminy and Dixie embarking on a quest to discover whether he did or didn't dunnit is as good an excuse as any for Short and Hooks to lurk around the hotel, hiding behind curtains and taking cellphone calls. The movie spends more time on the mystery than on Jiminy's meat and glazed doughnuts, the celebrity interview, but Higgins' continental vulgarian is so inspired it makes the pointless story seem worthwhile. (Also featured are a couple of funny interviews with Short's friends Steve Martin and Kurt Russell, and cameos by Sharon Stone, Forest Whitaker -- "the wonderful Forrest Gump" -- and Sutherland.) For a movie this gleefully, unabashedly dumb, it's often quite clever. The novelty has worn off, but Jiminy's casual savagery and savage ignorance are still in fine form.
'Jiminy Glick in Lalawood'
MPAA rating: R for language and crude sexual content
Times guidelines: Plenty of swearing and comical sexual situations
Martin Short...Jiminy Glick
John Michael Higgins...Andre
Janeane Garofalo...Dee Dee
Corey Pearson...Ben DiCarlo
Gold Circle Films presents a Brillstein-Grey production in association. Director Vadim Jean. Producers Paul Brooks, Martin Short, Bernie Brillstein, Peter Safran. Executive producers Norm Waitt, Scott Niemeyer. Written by Martin Short & Paul Flaherty and Michael Short. Director of photography Mike J. Fox. Editor Matt Davis. Music David Lawrence. Production designer Tony Devenyi. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.