Alan Rudolph's "screwball film noir" (his definition) is a bit like Choose Me cast with buffoons--a handsome, smoothly directed, shaggy-dog mystery populated by thoroughly offbeat characters. Emily Watson plays malaprop-... more »spewing, gum-chewing Trixie Zurbo, a security guard who wants to be a private detective. It's kind of like Gracie Allen trying to play Lauren Bacall in a Bogey film with a babble of mangled clichés and screwy punch lines. A shaggy, small-time thug wannabe (Dermot Mulroney) drags her into a mystery involving a smarmy, double-talking senator (Nick Nolte), a boozy past-her-prime showgirl (Lesley Anne Warren), and a blackmail scheme that ends up in murder. As a mystery it's less hard-boiled than over easy, but the performers go to town with the material. Nolte brilliantly rants an incoherent brand of political doublespeak, and Nathan Lane is patter perfect as a small- time entertainer delivering one-liners with a weary, wounded smile. At almost two hours it's a long road with meanders and detours, offering little payoff beyond the time spent with Rudolph's endearing out-of-time characters. This may prove mystifying and insubstantial to viewers who like a little more shape to their stories, but fans of Rudolph's quirky brand of filmmaking will find it well worth the trip. --Sean Axmaker« less
"One needs a certain warped sense of humor to enjoy this film. Trixie (Emily Watson) is a self proclaimed "Private Defective" whose butchery of English is nothing short of cleavacle. Her command of idioms is not as bad as it is worse. She is Norm Crosby taken to the tenth powder. She mixes semaphores with a high-speed blender. Her malapropriations are so funny they border on historical.The writing of Trixie's dialogue by Alan Rudolph is extremely clever, but the story that surrounds it is very quirky, constantly meandering off point. I'm not a big fan of Rudolph's wry style of directing, but this film actually has its moments. Some of the things that pop out of Trixie's mouth are priceless. I found myself tolerating the boring story to hear what she would say next.Emily Watson's performance is excellent. She gives Trixie a naïve charm and gritty determination that is fun to watch. It is hard to fathom how she is able to say her lines with a straight face. Her Chicago accent is horrendous though. Nathan Lane also gives a tragically droll performance and Nick Nolte is absurdly humorous in his caricature of the corrupt state senator.This film was pounded by almost everyone, but I like this kind of word gymnastics, so I enjoyed it despite itself. I rated it a 6/10. If you can appreciate a punny character without much of a story, it might be worth a try."
Quirky but entertaining
L. A. Kazan | 12/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""or to put it in terms you might understand,
'The sword of damocles is hanging over pandora's box'..."This film is more proof that Wisdom and Intelligence are not the same thing. Trixie isn't very bright or well educated, but what she lacks in book-learning she makes up for in street smarts and good morals. She's not unnattractive, just rather plain.
Cute, but not beautiful. Chews gum alot.
Sort of a female "Columbo" but even dimmer.
Just judging from her looks on the box cover
of the VHS cassette, I don't know why, but I just assumed
she was British. She looks stereotypically British,
and I was surprised to hear a sassy Chicago accent come
from those lips and not some kind of Cockney or other London accent...then again, the last feature film I watched was
THE LIMEY, so maybe that's still in my head subconsciously.You have to get used to the title character's dialogue...I found it rather painful on my ears...and you will start talking like Trixie if you're not careful, with all the mangled metaphors!...I'm not sure it's really believable someone could talk that way so consistently, regardless of educational background...I'm sure the actress had to spend a lot of time working on her lines to get them so perfectly screwed up...sounds more like a foreigner whose first language is not English speaking that would be more believeable.
Some of it is mildly amusing, I'm sure some people howl with laughter the whole way through...but I didn't. I think Trixie would have been/could have been just as good a movie without the speech impediment...a "female Columbo" is not a bad idea for a movie, but they could have done it more effectively by studying Peter Falk's methods. Or if they insisted on the language schtick...I still say what dissapointed me most is that Trixie just looks so BRITISH. If Zellweger can pull of a Brit accent and Aussies can pull of US accents, this film would have worked nicely in London..."Trixie" could have taken lessons from Brad Pitt's Irish gypsy character in SNATCH, for instance.Nick Nolte does a good job playing a bad guy. The female actress in the supporting role, the 16 yr old vixen, was
a positively disturbing character.still, this was worth the cost of the rental."
Very enjoyable mystery
Trevor Henderson | 05/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is a pleasure to watch and listen to this movie very carefully to get all of the humor -- stay focused or you will miss a lot. Though you are laughing about this charming and interesting cast of misfits and semi-morons, you never really laugh at them as you try to work your way through Trixie's muddled haze to figure out who did what.
All the actors play their best known and acclaimed character roles to the hilt, never disappointing. Emily Watson is wonderful as the malapropped mystery solver -- who can play a wise simpleton better? Who can beat Nathan Lane as a cynical washed-up entertainer, never failing to impersonate, charm, and see through the act. Nick Nolte plays the sleezy, cynical, Senator, lampooning politicians saying nothing while always dazzling. Dermot Mulroney shines as the sexy simple not-so-good would-be gigolo with a heart. Who can play the sexy simpleton vamp better than Leslie Ann Warren? Ruby Pearli is captivating as the wannabe star lounging her way into and out of the mystery and notereity. There are too many other actors to name that add so much to this movie.
The camera work with mirrors is amazing and mesmerizing.
An enjoyable escape -- one of those movies you will enjoy the more often you watch it. "
Eolake | Lancashire, United Kingdom | 11/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Trixie is a uneducated and seemingly naîve, but surprisingly effective cop, who basically speaks in mangled metaphors and expressions. "I believe in taking the bull by the tail and staring him right in the eye.""No, you can't have a drink, you are not drinking yourself into Bolivia.""
Quirky characters don't make up for a lack of plot
L. A. Kazan | Astoria, NY USA | 12/14/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Trixie is the kind of movie that you want to love. It contains characters who are more interesting than the people most of us meet everyday. Each is unique in a depressing way. Is Emily Lloyd's Trixie on target? Who knows? You've never met anyone like her before. Does Nathan Lane overact? Yes, he always does, but never before in such a small movie so you usually don't notice it. How did Nick Nolte come up with his sleazy politician ? Well, haven't most of his roles in other films benefitted from his sleaziness? Everyone in this movie is overdrawn but your heart is touched by them nonetheless.But quirky, touching characters don't make a movie. The plot, script, directing and sets all seem to be offhand as if they were occuring in a dream you might have when you are sleeping with the television on. No one--not the actors, not the writers, not the director--seems to know where this movie is going. And, so, it doesn't go anywhere. If you like showcases for quirky acting, you'll find much to smile at in Trixie. If you don't care about meeting the man mumbling to himself behind you on the supermarket checkout line, you won't want to meet Trixie either."