James Lorinz got the idea to make this short in film school, when he remembered the cartoon mascot for the ice cream vendor Mr.Softee from his childhood, and wondered what it would be like if a man with an ice cream cone for a head was an actual living being. See more »
I always really wanted to check out this very rare short ever since I first saw a clip of it on a documentary about the movie Street Trash, because it had what looked like one of the most bizarre concepts ever, and I finally got to just this month and it really didn't disappoint me, and I didn't think it would because it comes out of the same wonderful little era of schlocky grimy and gross horror flicks like Frankenhooker and indeed Street Trash. And it was made sometime in the late 80s not the year 2000, that's incorrect. What a cool idea that James Lorinz thought of when he first imagined what a beloved ice cream mascot might be like if it was like a regular living guy. Well, almost regular.. Lorinz gives a pretty good low-key performance that carries this surreal exercise about a hilariously disfigured freak of nature who was once a big hit in the ice cream business but is now just a washed-up and depressive kind of dude and the short just follows his weird-ass day as he tries to do the little things that make a person feel more human as well as eventually get even with Don Tofutti, the ruthless ice cream baron/mob boss who forcefully bought him out! Lorinz's makeup effects look amazing, he's bizarre, ridiculous, kinda creepy, and also oddly delicious, like if you were in a room talking to the guy in person you wouldn't be able to resist sticking your finger in there just for a taste! It's freaking brilliant, he's a giant walking talking ice cream cone with a face!!! Looking at him he makes for such an unbelievably weird spectacle that it makes you wonder how the other actors could have possibly done scenes with him without cracking up, especially when it was James Lorinz's snarky deadpan tones that were coming out of such an apparition! In fact in the scene where Mr Swirlee's in a meeting that turns into a beating with the Tony Darrow character, you can clearly see Darrow losing it when he's saying some of his more on-the- nose lines! It was all played quite straight-faced but not so much that it didn't have an odd sense of fun about itself, and that's what made it funny. I think with a little work a movie length version of this would've been terrific if it would have kept the same offbeat tone and humour. It actually could have been a movie back then but Lorinz understandably didn't want it made into a movie for kids, a decision he later came to regret. That's a shame, but I like it fine as the obscure oddity that it is, it made me laugh and was definitely different and entertaining, I'd call it a little lost gem for sure. As of this date it's floating around on the inter-web so see it while you can, it's cool. Mr. Swirlee: The more you try to take it seriously the crazier it becomes!
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