There once was a series called “Rembert Explains.” It came in many forms (the ’80s, the ’90s, America), but ultimately was shut down by Barack Obama. While Rembert is still under high surveillance, every now and then something surfaces — something so absurd — it’s worth the risk of further jail time in the name of writing down thoughts while watching a video, and then posting those thoughts here. This installment: the trailer for Tiptoes (2003).
[Note: Before watching this clip, it’s important to know that the only human I’ve spoken to who knew of this film is Hollywood Prospectus editor Mark Lisanti. Almost as if he wrote and directed this movie. And is trying to sneak it back into the cultural consciousness. To collect royalties. Purely speculation, though.]
0:03 First off, the what kind of narrator is this? He sounds like an easy-to-disobey middle school substitute science teacher, a horrible sign for what the budget on this thing must have been.
0:05 CURVEBALL — Matthew McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale. In a 2003 movie called Tiptoes.
This is going to get weird. Really weird. Super quick. I can taste it.
0:06 … and that only took one second.
Has no one heard of Tiptoes because it’s simply a home movie that Matthew and Kate made one night while Airbnb-ing someone’s artist loft? That would actually clarify a few of the mysteries contained in this film.
0:14 So far, still 90 percent certain this is a sex tape.
0:15 Wait …
“Hi, I’m Ralph. I’m his brother. We’re twins.”
And just like that, what appears to be Gary Oldman (still not certain) is playing a little person named Ralph who is McConaughey’s twin. I’m officially scrapping the sex-tape theory, which now means this was an actual movie, which is 10 times weirder than filming a night of naked Underworld bongo playing.
0:23 So the first drama of the trailer has presented itself: Beckinsale’s character is obviously nervous that her love life with McConaughey could produce a little-person child.
0:26 Beckinsale: “I think you could have let me know that everyone in your family’s a midget.” A few things:
2. Matthew probably should have brought it up.
3. It’s really hard to respect someone on her high horse when she’s wearing this hat:
0:29 Young Matthew’s response to his visibly shaken, prone-to-politically-incorrect-statements girlfriend:
“They’re not midgets, Carol. They’re dwarfs.”
Carol’s response: “Whatever.” She’s not happy. Also, it’s fair to say we’ve only scratched the surface with regard to how inappropriate this movie will get.
0:34 Real in-laws alert. REAL IN-LAWS ALERT.
I’m sure they’re going to be thrilled with the news about McConaughey’s family. Ecstatic, even.
0:42 Update: That’s definitely Gary Oldman.
I can’t believe there are only about 80 seconds left in this trailer. I want — need — so much more.
0:46 Classic mother-daughter conversation:
MOM: You could have prepared us for this, don’t you think?
CAROL: If you embarrass me, I’ll never speak to you again, so just get it together.
And while this is happening, across the table, McConaughey. Watching. Listening. Thinking. Plotting a way to get this film destroyed before release, praying that someone who has never heard of Tiptoes will eventually make a movie called Dallas Buyers Club, and perhaps he’ll get a call.
0:51 AHHHH BECKINSALE IS PREGNANT.
0:54 Narrator: “When the going gets rough, it’s only the size of your heart that counts.” Also, forgot to mention the other line he said earlier, introducing Oldman: “There’s one small problem.”
So, you know, they’re killing it on the offensive wordplay.
0:56 There’s a lot of drama in the next few seconds. Beckinsale begins to come around, suggesting that having a kid with dwarfism isn’t such a problem, and then Ralph blames McConaughey for not telling the girl he “knocked up” that his “baby’s probably gotta be little.” And then McConaughey tells him, “I’m not like you,” which, again, seems rude.
AND THEN THIS HAPPENS:
Oh, nothing, just a casual shot of now-legend Peter Dinklage, next to Patricia Arquette, who is wearing Spring Break 2002 Florida Panhandle White Girl Beaded Cornrows. Just that. Nothing more.
1:08 Next scene, Beckinsale (sans her man) rolls to a Project X rager with Ralph, Tyrion Lannister, and Arquette.
Despite her newfound acceptance of little people, she’s still saying “midgets.” But baby steps, I guess.
1:15 Just got two full seconds of the braided Patricia doing neck rolls and finger wags, talking about what her man (Dinklage) can do in bed.
So everything’s a pretty big bummer right now.
1:16 NEVER MIND.
They’re stealing the show. I’ve officially lost all interest in the main characters. It’s like the second season of Happy Endings in Tiptoes land.
Side note: It’s been ages (in trailer time) since we’ve seen McConaughey. Also, I haven’t even begun to think about the decision to name this film Tiptoes. Also, this just happened:
Nothing like an eBay purchase with a shipping price three times the listing price.
1:25 After a scene in which Ralph gets involved in a love triangle — BREAKING: THE KID IS BACK.
1:30 And then, with only a split-second footsteps-on-glass warning, Jewish Wedding Time.
I haven’t gone back and looked, but I don’t remember any clues to suggest McConaughey was Jewish. Or, more important, that Beckinsale would wear those crisscrossed bobby pins below a brunette loofah of hair.
1:36 And now, just like that, we’re in the hospital.
The speed at which time is moving during this film is very unclear. This has all taken place over either two years or a three-day weekend.
1:38 Another example: Here’s Beckinsale, one moment, looking like the conductor of the Polar Express.
And then, one second later, BOOM:
A BABY WITH MUD.
1:44 Just when you thought the DMV security guard subbing as narrator had done his best work, he hits you with his greatest, most hyperbolic work to date:
… command performances from Kate Beckinsale, Matthew McConaughey, Patricia Arquette, and, in the role of a lifetime, Gary Oldman.
1:57 And just like that, it’s over. Almost as if it were a dream.
Now that you’ve seen what heaven really looks like, six things to note:
1. While this wasn’t the original plan, this film ultimately was direct-to-DVD.
2. Somehow, it was an Official Selection at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
3. A potential explanation of the weird narrator and other aspects of this two-minute, four-second piece of art, from ESPN Films’ Dan Silver, of Grantland Trailers of the Week (RIP) fame:
The title card for Wild Bunch at the top signals that this is a “sales reel.” Wild Bunch is one of the more prestigious sales agents/packagers for film. They take projects in various stages of development or production to film markets (places like Cannes) to either sell to distributors as a finished piece, or to get investors to produce. In this film’s case, it looked complete, so this is a non-preview; it’s a sales reel to try to lure in money. That’s also why it doesn’t have the traditional voice-over voice narrating. It also cannot account for the tasteless and hyperbolic sappiness. Easier to invest in a rom-com.
Thank you, Dan, for all that you do.
4. Peter Dinklage, in The New York Times Magazine in 2012, on Tiptoes, as told to sometime Grantland contributor Dan Kois:
“It was a lovely mess of a movie while we were making it,” he sighed. “I saw the director’s cut, and it was gorgeous.” That two-and-a-half-hour director’s cut was shown at a film festival in Austin, Tex.; the director, Matthew Bright, was reportedly fired shortly afterward, and the movie was recut. “The people who fired him ruined the movie,” Dinklage insisted. “They made it into a weird little quirky rom-com, but with dwarves.” He looked gloomy as he recalled this. “It was sort of an amazing idea for a movie, but the result was what we were fighting against — the cutesiness of little people.”
Thank you, Peter Dinklage and Dan Kois, for all that you do.
5. Gary Oldman’s character is actually named “Rolfe,” not “Ralph,” which is absurd.
6. I cannot wait for this 99-cent DVD to show up in my mailbox tomorrow.