As the title character of Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, Martin Short is swathed in layers of body fat and leisure suit, with a ballooning double chin, and he flashes a crooked, V-shaped smile that lights up his face like an applause sign. That grin — phonier than Sammy Davis Jr.’s, even more passive-aggressive than Dick Cheney’s — is Jiminy’s way of ”connecting” with whomever he’s interviewing. A roly-poly entertainment reporter from Butte, Mont., Jiminy, his arteries clogged by infotainment, tosses questions at celebrities with an eager, lispy, weirdly prefab enthusiasm that makes him sound like a female impersonator who can’t decide whether he wants to be Gloria Swanson or Leeza Gibbons. To say that stars validate Jiminy’s existence wouldn’t do justice to the psychotic scale of his obsession. More than a fan, he’s a case of walking sublimation who lives for the moment when he can saunter up to Whoopi or Kevin Kline or introduce Forest Whitaker on the red carpet as ”the wonderful Forrest Gump!”
Jiminy worships celebrities but unconsciously hates the way that they fill up his existence, and that deep ambivalence — happy talk with hidden daggers — forms the core of Jiminy Glick in Lalawood. After years on Comedy Central, Jiminy may have finally earned his own movie, but I wish that it were less of a hit-or-miss affair than this one. Dispatched to the Toronto film festival, Jiminy, after dozing through a screening of Growing Up Gandhi, gives the film its only good review, thus landing an exclusive one-on-one with its director and star (Corey Pearson), a mishmash of Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. Short also appears as David Lynch (yes, that David Lynch), who presides over a wispy-campy dream-and-reality nightmare plot. A haughty movie star, Miranda Coolidge (Elizabeth Perkins), has apparently been stabbed to death. Could it be Jiminy who did the deed? Bolstered by funny improv interviews with Steve Martin and Kurt Russell, Jiminy Glick in Lalawood nevertheless belabors what Short did so nimbly on Comedy Central, which is to zero in on a star’s weak spots under the guise that he’s just funnin’. In his curdled-butterball way, Jiminy Glick may be the most acidic showbiz send-up since Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton. This movie, though it has its moments, is a pedestal he didn’t need.