The Worst: Tiptoes

Tiptoes is a goddamn bore. A completely sincere, generally benign drama about an artist who learns her fiancée comes from a family of dwarfs. This is especially surprising since her fiancée is played by Matthew McConaughey. Tiptoes appears to have its heart in the right place, but makes a large tactical error in the casting of Gary Oldman as McConaughey’s twin dwarf brother. This error is not due to Oldman’s acting abilities, but due to the fact that Gary Oldman is clearly walking on his knees in every scene.

The first twenty minutes tilt towards failed madcap, with Oldman traveling with a Marxist dwarf played by Peter Dinklage. They manage to almost get into hi-jinks but then the film backs away and nothing much really happens. That’s Tiptoes in a nutshell, a film where something almost happens and then doesn’t, over and over again. McConaughey is confronted by his fiancée played by Kate Beckinsale about the fact that he hid his dwarf family from her. They sorta argue and then yeah, it’s fine. Gary Oldman’s character is frequently referenced as a newspaper columnist, but he spends the first half of the film appearing to be homeless and we never see him write anything. There are a couple scenes at dwarf parties where characters have bland, pointless conversations that lead to nothing. In particular is a dinner party where Beckinsale’s parents meet McConaughy’s and it goes fine. SNOOOOOZE. The last thirty minutes deal with the birth of the couple’s child and McConaughy’s inability to deal with it. This encompasses a single argument that leads Beckinsale to leave and shack up with Oldman. This makes no sense, and the film ends with McConaughy essentially conceding his relationship and fatherly status to Oldman.

Totally natural

Totally natural

This movie was famously never released in theaters, wallowing on the shelf before an eventual DVD burial. I think most people assume this is because of the ridiculous Gary Oldman stuff. Probably. I think it might also be because it is boring and devoid of conflict. Hell, the conflict has clearly been cut out of the film. Oldman makes a telling statement about McConaughy not screwing things up with Beckinsale, but the film ends with McConaughy’s only crime being an anxious father of a special needs child. Who can blame him? The film spends countless scenes conveying the harsh experiences of being born a dwarf, from ulcers to organ issues. Being a dwarf is not easy, and McConaughy seems entirely justified in his trepidation and fear over the health of his child. However, while researching Tiptoes on the IMDB I discovered three photos from cut scenes which tell the story of an apparent infidelity subplot. That makes a little more sense, but the woman pictured isn’t even half as hot as Kate Beckinsale, so it was probably cut for being complete bullshit.

Cut for being bullshit

But let’s get back to Oldman. His character is blandly nice, which is apparently a virtue in comparison to McConaughy’s cool guy firefighter. While the story’s intent might be for Beckinsale and Oldman to get together, they have no chemistry and Beckinsale only appears to pity Oldman and look at him the way one would a precocious child. The film ends with this idea of the two beginning a relationship together but I didn’t buy it. Oldman’s casting is a mistake because it undermines the entire point of the film. Unlike every other dwarf in the movie, he has to pretend to be one, and it comes across just as fake as it looks. Just about every other dwarf in Tiptoes comes across like a real human being who just happens to be a little smaller. Oldman struts around with oversized limbs, a giant head and a general permissive nature that is equally cloying and a buzzkill. At every party they go to, he’s the least interesting person there.

If Tiptoes has any redeeming qualities, it’s that it provided employment for many dwarf actors, where they were able to dress in normal clothes and not appear in some weird David Lynch nightmare. Small victory, no pun intended.


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One Response to “The Worst: Tiptoes”

  1. Adam Says:

    I thought that was strange. Thanks for pointing out that there was a subplot of MMcC cheating on his wife. They set it up and doesn’t finish it.

    This is one fun dumb movie.

    here’s my audio review.

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