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Film / Mixed Nuts

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"Just remember that in every pothole there is hope. Well, you see, pothole is spelled P-O-T-H-O-L-E. So if you take the P, and add it to the H, the O, and the E, and rearrange the letters, or contrariwise, you remove the O, T, and the L, you get "hope". So, just remember, in every pothole there is hope."

Mixed Nuts is a 1994 holiday film directed by Nora Ephron, who teamed with her sister Delia to adapt the the 1982 French film Le père Noël est une ordureFr. . Steve Martin heads an ensemble cast that includes Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson, Juliette Lewis, Anthony LaPaglia, and Liev Schreiber, among others.

The plot revolves around a suicide hotline, a serial killer, two broke lovers, an eviction notice, and a trans woman who just wants to be loved. The hotline is run by Philip (Martin), Catherine (Wilson), and Mrs. Munchnik (Kahn), and Catherine is in love with Philip. Even though it's Christmas Eve, business is slow — the only calls they receive are either obscene or from people who are worried about a Serial Killer called the Seaside Strangler — and the hotline has been evicted from its apartment unless Philip and company can pay their rent. Meanwhile, Gracie (Lewis) and Felix (LaPaglia) — who are probably lovers, though it is never confirmed — are expecting a baby but cannot afford to give birth in the hospital, while Chris (Schreiber) — a transgender woman — is looking for someone who will respect her for who she is.

This film, especially the humor, is polarizing material, and while it originally bombed it is still loved by the cult, especially fans of the cast.

Mixed Nuts provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Stanley the landlord gets shot through the door when Gracie is emptying the gun by firing it wildly.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Invoked by Catherine. In one scene, Philip attempts to extract Mrs. Munchnik from the elevator, but Gracie presses the call button and it slips out from under them, leaving them dangling from the side of the shaft at the risk of either falling or being crushed. Catherine's reponse? "Phillip, are you all right?"
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: "Hold onto my wrist! Hold onto my wrist—you're hurting my wrist!"
  • Away in a Manger: Happens to Gracie.
  • Black Comedy: A little too black, which is one of the reasons a lot of critics don't find it funny.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Just when you think you've forgotten about the fruitcake, there it is again.
    • Also, of all things, the Seaside Strangler.
  • Butt-Monkey / The Chew Toy: Mrs. Munchnik.
  • The Cameo:
    • Look closely at the young boy shouting "Mommy, it's Santa!" That's Haley Joel Osment.
    • Victor Garber makes an off-screen cameo as an annoyed neighbor.
    • Jon Stewart is one of the annoying roller bladers.
  • The Door Slams You: Mrs. Munchnik gets a concussion from this and is unconscious for a portion of the movie.
  • Driven to Suicide: The whole point of the hotline is to help people who are contemplating suicide. One caller phones them with a gun to his head; after Catherine is unable to hear him over the static, he shoots himself.
  • Elevator Failure: Possibly the most only memorable gag.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Dr. Kinsky's rant about how women put too many pillows on their beds.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: This happens during the title drop.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Philip tries to call the Los Angeles Times editorial desk, but has trouble getting past the automated greeting.
    "Thank you for calling the Los Angeles Times. If you would like to order a subscription, please press 1. If your newspaper did not arrive this morning, press 2. To place a classified ad, press 3. To speak to the editorial desk, city desk, national desk, international desk, sports desk, metro, view, or calendar sections, press the first three letters of the desk you desire, followed by the star key in the case of the first three or the pound key in the case of the latter five."
  • Foreign Remake: Of the 1982 French comedy Le père Noël est une ordure (Santa Claus Is a Stinker).
  • Foreshadowing: Actually used cleverly in the soundtrack. When Mrs. Munchnik is riding the elevator, the song that plays is "I'll Be Home for Christmas," after which fate gives her immense trouble leaving the building throughout the rest of the movie.
  • Hollywood Law: In reality, the cops probably would not just let Gracie off once they discover her victim was really the Seaside Strangler. While they might be glad he's gone, further investigation likely would take place, and she could be charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, etc. Of course, a jury might still be sympathetic regardless, or they could cut her a deal.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Gracie kills the landlord while trying to empty Felix's gun. It turns out that she accidentally killed the Seaside Strangler.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Chris, and to some extent, Mrs. Munchnik.
  • Improbable Weapon User: A fruitcake comes in handy a couple times in the movie.
  • Instant Death Bullet: The landlord is instantly killed after Gracie accidentally shoots him through the door. It... makes sense in context. Of course, she shot him in the head and chest.
  • Large Ham: Madeline Kahn officially out-hams Steve Martin. Seriously.
  • The Load: Catherine, to an extent, in one scene. Philip and Mrs. Munchnik are hanging inside the elevator shaft for dear life and she does nothing to try to help them. Instead she just stands outside and screams.
  • Love Redeems: Mrs. Munchnik noticeably becomes more pleasant after she has sex on the beach with Mr. Lobel.
  • My Car Hates Me:
    • This happens to Mrs. Munchnik.
    • After she gets it fixed, someone throws a fruitcake out the window and it just happens to hit her car.
  • No Indoor Voice: Gracie and Mrs. Munchnik both indulge in this, as well as Philip during one scene.
  • Not What It Looks Like: After being told by Mrs. Munchnik that Philip had a visitor, Catherine finds a woman's cape in the apartment, leading her to believe that he was seeing a woman. Turns out, the cape was Chris's.
    Catherine: That's who you were dancing with?
    Chris: She insults me too. My god, if you don't have tits like Dolly Parton, nobody wants you.
  • Pet the Dog: Literally. Mrs. Munchnik begins as a dog hater, which Mr. Lobel complains about. Later, after she has sex with him, she gets down and pets his dogs.
    Gracie: They definitely did it.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Literally in this case. Catherine has trouble talking to a suicidal man with a gun because of static over the phone and asks him to "click" the hook and call again. The man mistakes the word "click" for the sound his gun makes and shoots himself as a result.
  • Potty Emergency: Guess who gets locked out.
    Catherine: I called the landlord. He'll be here in two hours.
    Mrs. Munchnik: Two hours? I can't wait two hours! I have to go to the bathroom!
  • Precision F-Strike: HEY DICKHEADS!!!!
  • Primal Fear: A lot of what Mrs. Munchnik goes through gives you a few of these; enclosed spaces, heights, concussions, and hard things falling from the sky.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Gracie ensures the revolver she takes from Felix is harmless not by emptying the chamber but by shooting the gun until it's empty.
  • Rule of Three: The obscene caller calls three times, each handled a completely different way depending on the character.
    • The first time:
      Philip: Stop this right now! We can't have this sort of thing! [hangs up]
    • The second time:
      Gracie: You know, you are a disgusting, sleazy, perverted—
      Mrs. Munchnik: [takes the phone] I'm sorry, may I help you? The person you were just speaking with has not taken the Life Savers training program.
      Caller: Shut up, Grandma! I'm not busting your cherry!
      Mrs. Munchnik: Oh. I'm simply crushed. Here I've waited my whole life for you, and now you don't even want me. Do go on, I believe you were discussing my cherry? [dial tone] I am so good at this.
    • The third time:
      Caller: May I speak to a woman? May I wish a woman Merry Christmas?
      Chris: You are speaking to a woman. [dial tone]
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Catherine after Gracie gives her a makeover.