The Nutt House

The Nutt House

D: Adam Rifkin (1992); with Stephen Kearney, Amy Yasbeck, Traci Lords, Stella Stevens, Emil Sitka. Before making names for themselves with the triumphant comedy/horror mix of the Evil Dead movies and Hercules/Xena TV series, buddies Sam and Ivan Raimi and Bruce Campbell and Scott Spiegel entertained themselves by lensing short, Three Stooges-type two-reelers with titles like The Blind Waiter and The Sappy Sap. Raimi's first attempt at a full-length zany comedy, 1985's Coen Bothers-penned Crimewave, was a failed masterpiece at best, but when the four pals were writing together on what was first called The Nutty Nut, they unfortunately found themselves teamed up with Adam Rifkin, non-director of the deathly dull Dark Backward. As a result, they soon found themselves with a turkey that gobbled so loudly they gave their writing credits over to the infamous Alan Smithee, his son Alan Smithee Jr. (a cinematic first!), and the mysterious Roc Sandstorm. More of a pseudo-Jerry Lewis tale than a Stooges pastiche, it's obvious that the conspirators began their work by concentrating on the climactic pie fight and worked backward. Make no mistake, the pie fight is perhaps the finest in movie history (look for the world's shortest cameo by a young Ben Stiller), and the teaming of original Stooges foil Emil Sitka and former teen porn queen Traci Lords is inspired, but as far as story, pretty much all that happens is that star Kearney (as Nutt brothers Nathan and Philbert) runs about for 90 minutes getting hit on the head, triggering changes into various multiple personalities and allowing for loads of mistaken identity gags between the two siblings. Much of it is headache-level unfunny, with Kearney's acting style a dead ringer for the then-unknown Jim Carrey. A coincidence made all the more bizarre considering that it's said Carrey was originally slated for the role, but Rifkin nixed him because he didn't think he was funny. You can thank Rifkin for that one small favor -- if Carrey had made the film, Comedy Central would now be showing it six times a day as a "cult classic."

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