Mixed Nuts is a 1994 American Christmas comedy film directed by Nora Ephron, based on the 1982 French comedy film, Le Père Noël est une ordure. Co-written by Ephron and her sister Delia, the film features an ensemble cast which includes Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Garry Shandling, Juliette Lewis, Adam Sandler and, in his first film role, Liev Schreiber.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nora Ephron|
|Music by||George Fenton|
|Edited by||Robert M. Reitano|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$6.8 million|
The film was released theatrically on December 21, 1994 and was both critically and commercially unsuccessful.
The plot begins on Christmas Eve, with ex-con Felix running from his angry, pregnant wife, Gracie, as she chases him down the road. He accidentally runs into and damages a Christmas tree carried by two rollerbladers. When an argument breaks out among them, a stranger, Philip, unsuccessfully attempts to calm them down. They soon disperse.
Philip, head of the suicide-prevention hotline "Lifesavers", receives an eviction notice from his landlord, Stanley, after being unable to pay the organization's rent for several months. In addition to him, the hotline is staffed by the selfish, neurotic, and rather fearful office manager, Mrs. Blanche Munchnik and the overly emotional and empathetic supervisor Catherine O'Shaughnessy. Philip, who does not inform his coworkers of the eviction, attempts to convince his girlfriend, Susan, who is a loan officer in a local bank, to grant him a small loan. She refuses the loan before telling him that she has been secretly dating a psychiatrist for four months and is breaking up with him.
Despite Catherine's expectation that "you'd expect everyone to be thinking of jumping out of windows or slitting their wrists on Christmas Eve", the staff has received few calls. There is one phone call from a woman who is frightened by a notorious Los Angeles serial killer dubbed "the Seaside Strangler," and another from Chris, a transgender woman, who convinces Philip to disclose Lifesavers' office address. Meanwhile, an elevator malfunction leaves Mrs. Munchnik trapped on her way to Christmas Eve dinner. Philip eventually manages to pull her to the top of the elevator when Gracie arrives and attempts to operate it. They are terrified that they will be crushed by the ceiling of the elevator shaft, but eventually they all manage to return to the office.
Felix arrives, begging Gracie to listen to him, and she hits him in the head with a fruitcake, causing a large cut on his forehead. Philip and Catherine take him to a veterinarian to be treated for his head wound. While the doctor is distracted discussing relationships and pillows with Philip, Felix steals and quickly overdoses on dog tranquilizers and is taken to a hospital. Meanwhile, at the office, the doorbell rings. Gracie quickly throws the door open, accidentally striking Mrs. Munchnik and revealing Chris in the doorway. Gracie leaves Chris to care for the unconscious Mrs. Munchnik. When Philip returns, Chris is sitting on the sofa and convinces him to dance with her. When Mrs. Munchnik awakens, she witnesses the dancing and threatens to sue Philip for withholding information of the eviction and for "inappropriate office behavior" before leaving.
Soon, Gracie, Catherine, and a downstairs neighbor named Louie Capshaw, all return to the office with Chinese food. Meanwhile, her car fixed by the car club, Blanche encounters the fruitcake again, as it has landed and hit her window, after Philip has a fit and throws it out of the office window. She is distraught, sitting on her car bumper, as fellow neighbor Mr. Lobel walks up to her with his three dogs in tow. Soon, they're having sex on the beach. An hour later, Felix arrives at the office brandishing a gun, having escaped from the hospital. Chris gets shot in the foot after attempting to disarm him. Gracie takes the gun and shoots wildly around the office to empty it of ammunition. Two shots go through the front door, killing Stanley, who was standing behind it with a bag of his possessions. The sight of the dead Stanley puts Catherine in shock. Philip prepares a bath to calm her down, realizes that he is strongly attracted to her, and they have sex. Meanwhile, Chris takes a mutual romantic interest in Louie, who sings impromptu songs on his prized ukelele. Gracie and Felix disguise Stanley's body as a Christmas tree with burlap and super glue, and the decision is made to take it and the bag to the boardwalk and leave it there.
As they all carry Stanley's body down the street, they encounter the now-vengeful rollerbladers, who barrel through them. Felix tosses the tree and it crashes to the ground, revealing Stanley's body. When the police arrive, Philip falsely confesses to the killing, but Gracie pulls out the gun as proof of her guilt. Felix grabs it and runs to the roof of a nearby building, where he threatens to commit suicide. Philip soon convinces him to climb down, to much applause. Catherine hands Stanley's bag to the detectives, who search it. They find fishing line and kelp, the weapons of choice for the Seaside Strangler. Stanley was the Seaside Strangler all along.
For killing the criminal, Gracie receives the reward of $250,000. She offers to pay for Lifesavers' moving expenses, then promptly goes into labor. She gives birth in the first few hours of Christmas Day in a scene that resembles the Nativity of Jesus. Philip then asks Catherine to marry him. At the end credits, we see a wall Felix has painted everything he told Gracie from earlier he would do once he had a wall.
- Steve Martin as Philip
- Madeline Kahn as Mrs. Blanche Munchnik
- Robert Klein as Mr. Lobel
- Anthony LaPaglia as Felix
- Juliette Lewis as Gracie
- Rob Reiner as Dr. Kinsky
- Adam Sandler as Louie Capshaw
- Liev Schreiber as Chris
- Garry Shandling as Stanley
- Rita Wilson as Catherine O'Shaughnessy
- Parker Posey and Jon Stewart as Rollerbladers
- Joely Fisher as Susan
- Christine Cavanaugh and Henry Brown as Police officers
- Brian Markinson as Policeman / Voice of obscene caller
- Steven Wright as Man at pay phone
- Caroline Aaron and Mary Gross as Hotline callers
- Victor Garber as Voice of irate neighbor
- Haley Joel Osment as Little boy
- Michael Badalucco as AAA driver
- Sidney Armus and Diane Sokolow as Chris's parents
- Kurt Lockwood as Rollerblading Snowman (uncredited)
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||November 22, 1994|
- "Mixed Nuts" by Dr. John – 2:29
- "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Fats Domino – 4:08
- "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt – 3:26
- "Jingle Bells" by Eastern Bloc – 2:25
- "Blue Christmas" by Leon Redbone – 2:24
- "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" by The O'Jays – 5:14
- "Mixed Notes" by George Fenton – 3:48
- "Grape Jelly" by Adam Sandler – 1:25
- "Christmas Melody" by George Fenton – 2:54
- "The Night Before Christmas" by Carly Simon – 3:39
- "Silent Night" by Baby Washington – 3:23
- "White Christmas" by The Drifters – 2:41
The film opened on December 21, 1994, and made $2,307,850 in its first weekend, ranking number 12 in the domestic box office. By the end of its run, it had grossed a mere $6,821,850.
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 10% "rotten" rating based on 30 reviews. The critical consensus reads: "Mixed Nuts may provoke strong allergic reactions in all but the most undemanding filmgoers - and the most forgiving Steve Martin fans". On Metacritic, it has a 14 out of 100 rating based on 16 critics. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "C+" on scale of A to F.
Janet Maslin's review in The New York Times mentioned a corpse depicted in the story and wrote that the film "is about as funny as that corpse and about as natural." Variety staff wrote, "Director/co-scripter Nora Ephron pitches the humor at a cacophonous level and displays the comedic equivalent of two left feet in evolving an absurdist, slapstick yarn. Truly alarming is watching some fine performers, including Kahn and LaPaglia, at their very worst." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote "The movie has a first-rate cast and crew; it's Nora Ephron's first directing job since the wonderful Sleepless in Seattle [...] Maybe there's too much talent. Every character shines with such dazzling intensity and such inexhaustible comic invention that the movie becomes tiresome, like too many clowns." Michael Dwyer in the Irish Times, reviewing it upon its European release, called Ephron's film "a truly pathetic effort", and "one of the worst films I have ever seen".
- "AFI-Catalog". Catalog.afi.com. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
- "Mixed Nuts (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Mixed Nuts". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
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- Mixed Nuts (1994). SoundTrackCollector.com.
- "Mixed Nuts". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Mixed Nuts". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
- Maslin, Janet (December 21, 1994). "Film Review; Hysterics All Dressed Up for the Holidays". The New York Times.
- "Mixed Nuts". Variety. December 31, 1993.
- Ebert, Roger (December 21, 1994). "Mixed Nuts". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Dwyer, Michael (December 22, 1995). "Some Turkeys, Some Golden". The Irish Times. p. 11.
- Howe, Desson (December 30, 1994), "The Envelope Please: Reel Winners and Losers of 1994", The Washington Post, retrieved July 19, 2020
- Denerstein, Robert (January 1, 1995). "Perhaps It Was Best to Simply Fade to Black". Rocky Mountain News (Final ed.). p. 61A.
- Arnold, William (December 30, 1994). "'94 Movies: Best and Worst". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Final ed.). p. 20.
- Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.