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This film premiered at Sundance and I was happy to have the opportunity to see it. I am a big fan of Gary Oldman and was looking forward to seeing him play a dwarf. The storyline was interesting; however the movie fell flat. Strangely enough, I was distracted by Oldman's portrayal of a dwarf...I kept wondering how they made him look so small instead of concentrating on the story. I never did figure out what Peter Dinklage and Patricia Arquette's characters had to do with the story; perhaps just to show that little people have relationships with "normal" size people...I don't know. I thought Dinklage, Arquette, Oldman and Kate Beckinsale all turned in good performances, but somehow all of them couldn't save this movie.
The beginning of "Tiptoes" is simply excellent and approaches a totally
original theme: the painter Carol (Kate Beckinsale) and the firemen
instructor Steven (Matthew McConaughey) are a young couple in love. The
ambivalent Steven has a deep inner secret: he is the unique normal size
man in his family of dwarfs, and he loves his family but he does not
live comfortable with this situation. When Carol gets pregnant,
coincidently the twin dwarf brother of Steven, Rolfe (Gary Oldman),
pays an unexpected visit to Carol. She becomes shocked with the
situation, while being introduced to Steven's family. The movie works
perfectly up to this point, showing an open-minded woman accepting
literally the minorities. However, from the moment when the Jewish
parents of Carol are introduced to Steven's family on, the screenplay
becomes irregular, corny in some moments, silly in others, and the open
conclusion is very disappointing, indeed terrible.
It was good to see Gary Oldman in a sensational role, and the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale playing a really beautiful character, without any prejudice and accepting the imperfections of life. Patricia Arquette is still very hot, but she is very stereotyped in the role of the crazy Lucy. I regret that such excellent original idea being wasted in an awful screenplay. My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "Na Ponta dos Pés" ("Tiptoes")
TIPTOES is a film that attempts to deal with the largely unexplored
subject of dwarfism, but quickly becomes convoluted and saccharine. The
story is centered around Steven (Matthew McConaughey) who has been told
by his fiancée Carol (Kate Beckinsale), that she is pregnant. What he
has not told her, is that his twin brother, as well as his whole family
are dwarfs, and that their child will more than likely be a "little
person." We meet Steven's brother, Rolfe (Gary Oldman), who prompts
Carol to discover more about what this means and in the process
discovers important things about herself as well, etc. She becomes
involved with an organization (modeled after the Little People of
America, or LPA, group) whose aim is to promote understanding in the
world at large. There is also a subplot involving Rolfe's friend
Maurice (Peter Dinklage) and his relationship to Lucy, a "normal sized"
woman (Patricia Arquette). Maurice is something of an anarchist, who
rejects the politically correct nature of the "little person" label (as
does Dinklage), has extreme views of the government, and drinks too
much. He is one of the most interesting characters in TIPTOES, but is
given little screen time and becomes more of a figurehead for the
"little people are just people" subtext of the story (Dinklage would be
given much more to work with in THE STATION AGENT). As the film
progresses, the relationship between Steven and Carol becomes more
melodramatic, and in the the end very little is resolved.
TIPTOES, as a film, seems to be more interested in delivering a warm-hearted message than creating a cohesive story. The film presupposes that the audience has a very narrow view of dwarfs: that they don't lead happy productive lives, that they aren't promiscuous or enjoy parties or drink to excess. All the "little people" in TIPTOES become exaggerated in order to dispel these notions, and are rarely given the opportunity to be simply characters in the story. The "normal sized" characters suffer from underdevelopment however and both McConaughey and Beckingsale fail to register as they are put through the motions of the uneven plot. TIPTOES rarely shows the prejudice that it constantly refers to. Observe the scene, when renting a motel room to Rolfe, Maurice and Lucy, the man behind the counter makes the comment "one adult and two children." No response is made by any of the characters, which seems unlikely considering Maurice is a gun-toting malcontent. The term "midget" is referenced as a derogatory epitaph, but little explanation is given (the word is a holdover from the "freak show" era). TIPTOES decides to sidestep many of these issues with well intentioned portrayals of normality, but generates little enlightenment into the specific social experience of dwarfs. Furthermore, the film fails to find the right tone for the material, going from bouncy to lachrymose in brief intervals; the subtext of Carol's pregnancy is also unsettling. The word 'abortion' is never used, but the capsulated plot detail on the packaging states that after she finds out her child will be a dwarf "Carol decides to have the baby anyway..." This line is used in a fluffy quasi-charming context and would be unthinkable to print if the unborn child was mentally handicapped or paralyzed.
Matthew Bright, the director of TIPTOES, has seemingly carved out a niche for himself by making odd-ball low budget films that have become cult favorites. Both THE FORBIDDEN ZONE, which he wrote, and FREEWAY, wrote/directed, have gone on to find a small, but faithful, audience on the fringe of modern film. The fact that the end result of TIPTOES was a soapy, romantic drama was apparently against Bright's wishes and he claims that the producers marginalized his input as the production went on. He went so far as publicly shun the finished film at the Sundance Festival. Even so, Bright is not a director whose work I would have sought out intentionally, but I was drawn to TIPTOES by the glimmering lure of Gary Oldman. Not only that, but Gary Oldman playing a "little person." After viewing the film, I am uncertain of what his motivations for choosing this film might have been. It could have been for the complicated technical aspects, or that it was a leading role that allowed him to show off his versatility. He does, however, create a fairly interesting, nuanced character (one of the few present in TIPTOES) considering the fact that he is playing a character roughly half his actual height, who walks with a cane (to mask the uneven gait while on one's knees I presume), and has a thick southern accent, all this while performing in heavy make-up (well done by Greg Cannom). That said, casting a person of "normal" size to play a dwarf (I'll let the reader draw their own comparisons) only added to the negative reaction the film received upon its' initial theatrical release (which was limited, basically going straight-to-video) from critics and the LPA. As other reviewers have noted, the methods by which the filmmakers accomplish the "dwarfing" of Oldman, cinematic ally speaking, are somewhat distracting. I would guess that the limitations in budget and time did not allow Bright and his crew to integrate the special photographic techniques as seamlessly as in a film like DEAD RINGERS. It is somewhat refreshing for a film to be relatively free of CGI effects, but the stand-ins and limited camera angles are obtrusive in sections and ultimately hurt the film. 3/10
YOU'LL PROBABLY NEVER SEE THIS MOVIE BUT IF BY CHANCE YOU MIGHT THEN YOU
SHOULDN'T READ THIS BECAUSE IT GIVES AWAY THE PLOT-LINE, BUT YOU PROBABLY
WOULDN'T BELIEVE IT ANYWAY.
If I was going to look for an actor to play a sympathetic lead role of a dwarf for a straight-up drama about `little people,' naturally I would turn to Gary Oldman. Yes, that Gary Oldman. Dracula. The Devil. Pontius Pilate. Maybe 5'11'. I guess Al Pacino wasn't available.
This is a bizarre movie. Matthew McConaughey plays Oldman's brother (not a dwarf), so this Schwarzeneggar and Devito as Twins straight up. Both McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale turn in reasonable performances, as does Peter Dinklage. (As an aside, I think this guy is a terrific actor. In both this and Station Agent, soon into the movie I quit thinking about him as a dwarf.) However, I was most enchanted by the acting of the little people in the supporting cast. They brought me inside an inaccessible subculture and often made it very comfortable and believable.
However, Bogie, Bacall and the entire cast of the Wizard of Oz couldn't rescue this movie. This is an ambitious project with an intriguing premise. And apparently, Oldman is the one that drove the project, and he wanted to play a dwarf. (The kid that has the football gets to be quarterback?) But everything else about the movie is bad. There were times when the Sundance crowd laughed at loud at some of the directing/editing. And the script seemed to be pieced together.
More Weirdness: At the premiere at Sundance, writer-director Matthew Bright scathingly denounced the film. He didn't watch the movie and said he never will. (`It's like making love to your ex-wife.') Bright apparently got into an argument with the financier of the film over creative differences. I think what I heard is that Bright wanted to close with a love scene between Oldman (playing a dwarf) and Kate Beckinsale. I guess the money-guy just didn't think the American public was ready for this. Anyway, according to Bright, he was fired from the movie and a bunch of inexperienced hacks who know nothing about the movie business finished the film. Bright said neither he nor none of the artists were paid a dime and that they didn't support the movie. Maybe this explains why this was such a disappointing film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I saw this movie as a new release at Blockbuster, I wondered why I'd never heard of it before in light of the big name actors involved. I was excited to view it, thinking it would be one of those under-appreciated but great films that so often don't get the attention they deserve.
My first thought was that I was disappointed they would cast Gary Oldman as Rolfe. There are so many talented little people I thought it was a slap in the face. But I understand Oldman was the weight behind the film; so I can accept the casting. And I thought his performance was wonderful. Even knowing ahead of time who he was, I still struggled to recognize him throughout the film.
Once I got past that, I tried to understand the point behind the film. Was it supposed to be a comedy? A drama? An introspective? The direction seemed unclear to me, and I had a hard time getting attached to the story. Despite being able to greatly enjoy Peter Dinklage's (LOVE him!) and Patricia Arquette's performances, I struggled to find out the purpose of their characters, how much of the my attention was supposed to be focused on them, Rolfe, Steven or Carol. But I hung in there.
Then a little more than halfway through the film I was invested. I felt strongly for Steven and Carol and their situation. I bought into their love for each other, and I wanted them to make it; so my hopes were high. SPOILER: I thought their separation was the turning point and my heart ached for the happy ending I wanted. Now maybe I was fooled by Matthew McConaughey's and Kate Beckinsale's chemistry, which I thought was palpable and believable. But I had no reason to believe that Steven wouldn't make the changes he needed to make.
I also had no reason to think that Carol and Rolfe would get together. No, I did not see it coming, nor do I feel I should have. I read that Beckinsale's character "fell in love with" Goldman's character. When did that happen? Did I blink? I didn't buy that plot line for a second, and I feel that's because I wasn't led to. The writing and direction fell flat there, making the ending much too abrupt and confusing. In fact, I felt cheated and even a little angered by the ending. I don't know what the writer intended, but the film I saw did not lead up to this. Not only was Matthew McConaughey's character more likable and real to me than Gary Oldman's (a wonderful job, but a bitter character), but there was ZERO chemistry between Oldman and Beckinsale. Their ending up together with Steven's child left me feeling heartbroken and offended...enough to add this comment here. (Normally I don't presume enough of myself to comment, but I was so affected I couldn't help myself.)
All of this is reason enough for me not to have enjoyed this film, not to mention the fact that the dialogue felt contrived in parts, the intent seemed unclear, and the editing felt choppy, and I feel like there are too many loose ends. I gave the film a 3. It's saving grace was some convincing performances.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have just viewed this film and, as usual went online to see others
comments. This is one of the first times that I have ever felt
compelled to comment myself...
I am mad at the actors, the director and the writer. One sigh of relief came when I saw that the writer has not written anything since that has made it to the screen.
I sat stunned for most of the film. The dialogue was so trite that if one more person asked Kate Beckinsale's character "how are you?" I was going to scream. In one scene they actually cut from Gary Oldman's character asking her the question and went to another scene in which he asked her the exact same question again!
It's a shame. I was looking forward to this film when I saw the cast line up. I can only hope and assume that everyone involved in the film was sufficiently embarrassed and upset by the finished product. A huge waste of talent.
(Potential spoiler) In one scene, you can actually see Kate Beckinsale stepping over Gary Oldman's legs that are not supposed to be there.
Enough. Really bad and, stealing the title from John Water's newest film (actually if he would have made this film, it would have been interesting)- it's a dirty shame.
This is quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen. The writing is both bizarre and predictable. The film has very little flow and except for Peter Dinklage all of the performances are stiff. I sincerely hope that Bill Weiner never picks up a pen again. I really do not understand how such big names could have been involved in what is effectively an after school special. There are a few scenes that qualify as funny in a campy sort of way, but the overall effect is that of sentimental schlock. I find myself deeply ambivalent about the characters; they were simply too idiotic and immature to connect with effectively. I regret not turning this film off half-way through; it represents an hour and a half of my life that I will never get back.
just saw this at sundance last night. absolutely horrid. people left mid movie in droves. quite possibly the worst acting (save G.O.) i've seen in years. best line-"does it hurt to be a little person?" maybe, maybe not. but it is quite painful to watch this movie.
Certainly one of the most idiotic films ever made. A PC message movie
that ends up making fun of midgets. The dialogue, the situations, the
acting (especially Beckinsale) all move constantly somewhere between
ludicrous and bizarre. Sometimes unintentionally funny, not funny when
it's meant to be, and sometimes just appallingly dumb, and even
disgusting, like the Marxist dwarf wrenching with Arquette yuck!
Casting Will Smith as Mohammad Ali pales in comparison to Oldman playing a hunchbacked midget. Just watching him in this role will you have you either laughing or just staring at the movie in disbelief. Everyone involved in this except the midgets i.e. the famous actors who agreed to do this, the man who wrote this, the director, the producers are utter cretins.
Huge disappointment. Great cast, and it started out really promising, but by the end it was total Movie of the Week. Not sure what they were thinking - the movie seemed nicely offbeat during the first half but then it got bogged down in melodrama. I learned a lot about dwarfism of course, which seems like it was the point, but I didn't enjoy the movie and that's a shame. Kate Beckinsale is a terrific actress who can move effortlessly among genres, but she is ultimately wasted here in a part that a much less talented woman could have played. It was fun to see so many well-known Little People, and they were all excellent, but not enough to save the movie. Too bad, because this could have been something special.
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