Mixed Nuts (1994)

PG-13 | 97 mins | Comedy | 21 December 1994

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
You may also like these titles from the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, the most authoritative documentation of the First 100 Years of American filmmaking.

Director:

Nora Ephron

Cinematographer:

Sven Nykvist

Editor:

Robert Reitano

Production Designer:

Bill Groom

Production Companies:

TriStar Pictures , Witt/Thomas Productions
Full page view
HISTORY

End credits include the statement: "Filmed in part at Kaufman Astoria Studios, New York." Laura Levine’s art, attributed to the character "Felix," appears throughout end credits. Director Nora Ephron discovered Levine’s work in the Utne Reader, as stated in the Dec 1994 issue of Vanity Fair, and commissioned her to paint a thirty-foot mural and a thrift store façade shown in the film.
       Several contemporary sources, including the 9 Feb 1993 DV and 29 May 1994 LAT, referenced the film’s working titles, Lifesavers and The Night Before Christmas. Focus groups were presented with replacement titles, and Mixed Nuts received a unanimous vote, according to the 21 Dec 1994 HR.
       Rights to the 1982 French film Le père Noël est une ordure were first optioned by Walt Disney Pictures in 1989, as stated in the 9 Feb 1993 DV. Witt/Thomas Productions collaborated on an English-language remake with the studio, but the project went into turnaround in 1992. Around the same time, Nora Ephron approached Disney about directing the remake, but when it was determined that the studio no longer had the rights, producer Paul Junger Witt worked “rigorously” to get them back, as stated in the 9 Feb 1993 DV. Referring to the project as The Night Before Christmas, a 19 Nov 1992 DV article announced that it would be Witt/Thomas Productions’ first venture after its deal with Disney expired. Although the company had negotiated a three-year deal with Warner Bros. in Jul 1992, Warner Bros. was not attached to The ... More Less

End credits include the statement: "Filmed in part at Kaufman Astoria Studios, New York." Laura Levine’s art, attributed to the character "Felix," appears throughout end credits. Director Nora Ephron discovered Levine’s work in the Utne Reader, as stated in the Dec 1994 issue of Vanity Fair, and commissioned her to paint a thirty-foot mural and a thrift store façade shown in the film.
       Several contemporary sources, including the 9 Feb 1993 DV and 29 May 1994 LAT, referenced the film’s working titles, Lifesavers and The Night Before Christmas. Focus groups were presented with replacement titles, and Mixed Nuts received a unanimous vote, according to the 21 Dec 1994 HR.
       Rights to the 1982 French film Le père Noël est une ordure were first optioned by Walt Disney Pictures in 1989, as stated in the 9 Feb 1993 DV. Witt/Thomas Productions collaborated on an English-language remake with the studio, but the project went into turnaround in 1992. Around the same time, Nora Ephron approached Disney about directing the remake, but when it was determined that the studio no longer had the rights, producer Paul Junger Witt worked “rigorously” to get them back, as stated in the 9 Feb 1993 DV. Referring to the project as The Night Before Christmas, a 19 Nov 1992 DV article announced that it would be Witt/Thomas Productions’ first venture after its deal with Disney expired. Although the company had negotiated a three-year deal with Warner Bros. in Jul 1992, Warner Bros. was not attached to The Night Before Christmas. TriStar Pictures, which produced and distributed Ephron’s hit, Sleepless in Seattle (1993, see entry), later came on board to finance and distribute, as noted in a 10 Apr 1994 NYT article. Although the budget was listed as $15 million in the 19 Nov 1992 DV, the 10 Apr 1994 NYT estimated the cost at $29 million.
       The casting of actor Kadeem Hardison was announced in a 17 Dec 1993 DV item, which noted that filmmakers were considering Rosie Perez to co-star as a pregnant character who gives birth in “Philip’s” emergency center. Neither Hardison nor Perez appeared in the film, and the childbirth depicted in Mixed Nuts took place on the streets of Venice Beach in Los Angeles, CA. On 21 Feb 1994, Var announced that Jon Stewart was cast as a “Rollerblader,” and stated that his character would be seen skating on the Miami, FL, boardwalk. No other mention of a Miami setting was found in AMPAS library files, and the film was ultimately set in Venice Beach.
       Principal photography was originally scheduled to begin 1 Feb 1994, as noted in a 19 Oct 1993 HR production chart, but was pushed to 14 Feb 1994, according to a 22 Mar 1994 HR chart. Despite the Los Angeles setting, the bulk of production took place in New York due to apprehensions about a possible craft workers strike in Los Angeles, as well as a competitive bid from Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York-native Ephron’s hometown. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that seven weeks of filming took place at Kaufman Astoria, where daytime and nighttime cycloramas depicting Venice were built, in addition to a four-story replica of Venice’s Waldorf Hotel, made of wood, glass, plaster and steel, at a cost of $630,000. According to a 29 May 1994 LAT article, an empty elevator shaft was built alongside a working one in order to achieve tricky camera angles within the building. Following the New York portion of the shoot, four weeks of exteriors were filmed in Venice Beach, beginning 11 Apr 1994.
       The 21 Dec 1994 HR reported that Mixed Nuts opened that day in roughly 1,500 theaters. Critical reception was largely negative. The 19 Dec 1994 Var review deemed the film a “total misfire with no commercial vital signs” and described it as “loud, gaudy, and unpleasant.” Calling it an “uneven mix,” the HR review of the same date predicted the film would succeed in the home video market and stated that Madeline Kahn stood out as “Mrs. Munchnik” despite the “somewhat worn character types.”
       A 15 Feb 1995 WSJ article, which cited the budget as $20 million, reported the total box-office gross as $6.6 million.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Nov 1992
p. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1993.
---
Daily Variety
17 Dec 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 1994.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1994
p. 6, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1994.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 May 1994
Calendar, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1994
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
10 Apr 1994
Section A, p. 27.
New York Times
21 Dec 1994
p. 18.
Vanity Fair
Dec 1994.
---
Variety
21 Feb 1994.
---
Variety
19 Dec 1994
p. 73.
WSJ
15 Feb 1995
Section B, p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
TriStar Pictures presents
A Witt-Thomas Production
A Nora Ephron Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
2d 2d asst dir, Los Angeles crew
DGA trainee, Los Angeles crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Rigging best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Cam op, Los Angeles crew
1st asst cam, Los Angeles crew
2d asst cam, Los Angeles crew
Steadicam op, Los Angeles crew
Chief lighting tech, Los Angeles crew
Best boy, Los Angeles crew
Key grip, Los Angeles crew
Best boy, Los Angeles crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Storyboard artist
Art dept coord
Art dept coord, Los Angeles crew
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
1st asst film ed
Asst film ed
2d asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Lightworks consultant
Negative cutting
Asst ed, Los Angeles crew
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Chargeman scenic artist
Standby scenic artist
Felix's artwork by
Const coord
Const foreman
Key const grip
Leadman, Los Angeles crew
Prop master, Los Angeles crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Steve Martin's costumer
Cost supv, Los Angeles crew
Costumer, Los Angeles crew
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
Mus supv
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst ADR ed
Rec
ADR eng
Post prod facilities
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableperson
Sd mixer, Los Angeles crew
Boom op, Los Angeles crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Asst eff coord
Titles and opticals by
Titles des by
DANCE
MAKEUP
Key make-up artist
Steve Martin's make-up
Key hairstylist
Steve Martin's hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Prod coord
Voice casting by
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Post prod accountant
Scr supv
Unit pub
Casting asst
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Loc liaison
Asst prod coord
Asst to Nora Ephron
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Post prod asst
Craft service
Craft service
Loc mgr, Los Angeles crew
Asst loc mgr, Los Angeles crew
Asst prod coord, Los Angeles crew
Prod secy, Los Angeles crew
Scr supv, Los Angeles crew
Extras casting, Los Angeles crew
Transportation coord, Los Angeles crew
Transportation capt, Los Angeles crew
Asst accountant, Los Angeles crew
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
Stunt coord, Los Angeles crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor consultant
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the French film Le père Noël est une ordure written by Jean-Marie Poiré, Josiane Balasko, Marie-Anne Chazel, Christian Clavier, Gerard Jugnot, Thierry Lhermitte and Bruno Moynot (Trinacra Films, Films Du Splended, Films A2, 1982).
SONGS
"White Christmas," written by Irving Berlin, performed by The Drifters, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"I'll Be Home For Christmas," written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent & Buck Ram, performed by Fats Domino, courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of ERG, under license from CEMA Special Markets
"Jingle Bells," written, arranged and performed by Adam Sandler
+
SONGS
"White Christmas," written by Irving Berlin, performed by The Drifters, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"I'll Be Home For Christmas," written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent & Buck Ram, performed by Fats Domino, courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of ERG, under license from CEMA Special Markets
"Jingle Bells," written, arranged and performed by Adam Sandler
"Grape Jelly," written, arranged and performed by Adam Sandler
"The Chipmunk Song," written by Ross Bagdasarian, performed by The Chipmunks, courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of ERG, under license from CEMA Special Markets
"Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," written by J. Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie
"We Wish You A Merry Christmas" (From The Jingle Cats Medley), arranged by Mike Spalla, performed by The Jingle Cats, courtesy of Jingle Cat Records
"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," written by Ralph Blane & Hugh Martin
"Santa Baby," written by Joan Javits, Philip Springer & Tony Springer, performed by Eartha Kitt, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music
"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" written by Frank Loesser, performed by The O'Jays, courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of ERG, under license from CEMA Special Markets
"Jingle Bells," arranged and performed by Eastern Bloc, courtesy of Acme Recording Inc.
"Blue Christmas," written by Billy Hayes & Jay Johnson, performed by Leon Redbone, courtesy of Private Music
"O Christmas Tree," performed by Aretha Franklin, from the album "A Very Special Christmas 2"
"Silent Night," performed by Anthony Newman, courtesy of Newport Classic
"The Night Before Christmas," written and performed by Carly Simon, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Carly Simon appears courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Mixed Nuts," written by Brock Walsh, performed by Dr. John, produced by George Fenton, courtesy of GRP Records.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Lifesavers
The Night Before Christmas
Release Date:
21 December 1994
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 December 1994
Production Date:
14 February--May 1994
Copyright Claimant:
TriStar Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 January 1995
Copyright Number:
PA735975
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo Digital, SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
33405
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas Eve in Los Angeles, California, Philip bikes along the Venice Beach boardwalk as a couple of rollerbladers skate past him with a Christmas tree. Nearby, Gracie, a pregnant thrift-shop owner, argues with her boyfriend, Felix, who is wearing a Santa Claus suit from Gracie’s shop. Felix runs into the rollerbladers’ Christmas tree, sending them to the ground and inciting another argument. The rollerbladers abandon the battered tree, and Philip takes it to the old apartment building where Lifesavers, the suicide hotline he runs, is headquartered. In the lobby, Philip receives an eviction notice from landlord Stanley Tenenbaum, who says Lifesavers must vacate the building by January 2nd. Upstairs, Philip’s employees, Catherine O’Shaughnessy and Mrs. Blanche Munchnik, answer calls from depressed and suicidal people. Catherine, who is secretly infatuated with Philip, takes a more sensitive approach with callers, while Munchnik is harsh and abrupt. Returning to the office, Philip says nothing about the evicition notice. Mrs. Munchnik gathers her things to leave for a holiday party hosted by her dead husband’s relatives, and Philip gives her a fruitcake in a tin. Munchnik recognizes the fruitcake as her Christmas gift to Philip last year and refuses to take it. On her way out, the building’s cage elevator malfunctions, trapping Munchnik inside. At her thrift shop, Gracie informs Felix that she cannot have a loser, ex-convict in her child’s life, but Felix reminds his pregnant girl friend of his aspirations to be a “wall artist.” Philip calls his fiancée Susan, who works as a loan officer, but when he asks her for a loan, she confesses to cheating on him and hangs up. Still stuck in the elevator, Munchnik tries ... +


On Christmas Eve in Los Angeles, California, Philip bikes along the Venice Beach boardwalk as a couple of rollerbladers skate past him with a Christmas tree. Nearby, Gracie, a pregnant thrift-shop owner, argues with her boyfriend, Felix, who is wearing a Santa Claus suit from Gracie’s shop. Felix runs into the rollerbladers’ Christmas tree, sending them to the ground and inciting another argument. The rollerbladers abandon the battered tree, and Philip takes it to the old apartment building where Lifesavers, the suicide hotline he runs, is headquartered. In the lobby, Philip receives an eviction notice from landlord Stanley Tenenbaum, who says Lifesavers must vacate the building by January 2nd. Upstairs, Philip’s employees, Catherine O’Shaughnessy and Mrs. Blanche Munchnik, answer calls from depressed and suicidal people. Catherine, who is secretly infatuated with Philip, takes a more sensitive approach with callers, while Munchnik is harsh and abrupt. Returning to the office, Philip says nothing about the evicition notice. Mrs. Munchnik gathers her things to leave for a holiday party hosted by her dead husband’s relatives, and Philip gives her a fruitcake in a tin. Munchnik recognizes the fruitcake as her Christmas gift to Philip last year and refuses to take it. On her way out, the building’s cage elevator malfunctions, trapping Munchnik inside. At her thrift shop, Gracie informs Felix that she cannot have a loser, ex-convict in her child’s life, but Felix reminds his pregnant girl friend of his aspirations to be a “wall artist.” Philip calls his fiancée Susan, who works as a loan officer, but when he asks her for a loan, she confesses to cheating on him and hangs up. Still stuck in the elevator, Munchnik tries to get the attention of a tenant named Louie Capshaw, but he cannot hear her over his headphones. She unwraps some Christmas presents and plays toy musical instruments in hope of drawing someone’s attention. Philip takes a call from someone who wishes to speak in person. Although he claims it is against Lifesavers policy to give out the address, the person begins to cry and Philip relents. The caller, a transvestite named Chris, walks out on his family’s Christmas celebration, ignoring their transphobic taunts. Meanwhile, Philip worries that the caller might have been the “Seaside Strangler,” a serial killer victimizing women in the area, but Catherine assures him otherwise. A neighbor named Mr. Lobel sees Munchnik in the cage elevator but refuses to help because she detests his dogs. Catherine gets a call from a lonely woman like herself and bursts into tears. Philip takes over the call, while Catherine goes to the bathroom to console herself. She determines that even though she is alone, she has a good job. However, she soon learns about the eviction and panics that Lifesavers will be shut down. Katherine and Philip finally hear Munchnik’s cries for help and go to rescue her. Philip pulls Munchnik through the roof of the elevator car, just as Catherine’s friend, Gracie, arrives and presses the elevator button. The elevator descends to the first floor, leaving Munchnik dangling. When it comes back up, both Philip and Munchnik are caught on the top of the elevator car, which stops just in time for them to escape. Felix shows up and follows Gracie into Lifesavers, where Catherine introduces Gracie to her co-workers. Munchnik suspects Felix might not be the father of Gracie’s child after he admits he was recently released from prison, causing Felix to fly into a rage. Gracie hits him over the head with the fruitcake tin, drawing blood. Philip offers to take him to the hospital, but Gracie says they cannot afford it. Instead, Philip and Catherine take Felix to see Philip’s veterinarian friend, Dr. Marshall Kinsky, and Munchnik grudgingly stays behind to answer phones. At Kinsky’s office, Philip loses his patience with Felix, who takes an overdose of dog tranquilizers, and Catherine becomes upset. She tells Philip that although he is good with people over the phone, he is overly judgmental in person. Back at Lifesavers, Munchnik fails to comfort a female caller by insinuating that her husband is cheating. Chris, the transvestite, arrives, and Gracie lets him in despite Munchnik’s fear that he might be the Seaside Strangler. Philip returns to the office alone, and Chris flirts with him. Uncomfortable with Chris’s advances, Philip nervously recounts the time he and his sister won a mambo contest as children, and Chris insists they dance. Gracie takes Catherine back to her house for a makeover and suggests they make wishes. Catherine wishes to fall in love, and Gracie wishes for her baby to have a better life than she did. Philip loosens up and enjoys dancing with Chris, while Munchnik discovers the eviction notice. Livid, she threatens to sue Philip for withholding information and behaving inappropriately at the office. She also reveals that Catherine has been lusting after Philip for years, then leaves in a huff. Outside, Munchnik tries to start her car, but it is dead. Philip upsets Chris by calling him a “nut,” and Chris leaves. Catherine, Gracie, and neighbor Louie Capshaw return with Chinese takeout. Awed by Catherine’s transformation, Philip joins them at the dinner table. Louie serenades Catherine with a song he plays on his ukelele, and Philip becomes jealous and throws the fruitcake tin out the window. The tin lands on Munchnik’s car, shattering her windshield. Her rival, Mr. Lobel, passes by with his dogs and sees her in tears. Lobel offers help, and she surprises him with a passionate kiss. Chris returns to Lifesavers to retrieve his cape, and Felix appears behind him with a gun. Chris wrestles the weapon away from him, but an errant bullet clips his foot. Gracie grabs the gun and fires off the remaining bullets, accidentally killing landlord Stanley Tenenbaum, who had just arrived at the door. Catherine hyperventilates and Philip takes her to the bathroom to calm her down. Gracie and Felix decide to hide Stanley’s dead body by wrapping him in a burlap sack and covering it with pine tree branches. Meanwhile, Philip draws Catherine a bath and offers to undress her. She looks at him longingly, and he admits to feeling nervous before kissing her. Louie serenades Chris with the same song he sang to Catherine, and minutes later, a disheveled Philip and Catherine rejoin the group. Felix announces plans to leave Stanley’s body, disguised as a Christmas tree, on the boardwalk. Philip disapproves but goes along. Outside, the group runs into Munchnik and Lobel, who join them as they carry the “Christmas tree” to the boardwalk. Carrying another tree, the rollerbladers approach and skate toward Philip and Felix, who throw their tree into the air to avoid a collision. When it lands, Stanley’s hands and feet are revealed. When the police arrive, Munchnik and Philip offer conflicting alibis. Gracie confesses and produces the gun, but Felix threatens to kill himself if she goes to jail. The police search Stanley’s belongings and identify him as the Seaside Strangler. They congratulate Gracie on winning a $250,000 reward, and she rejoices, offering to pay Lifesavers’ moving expenses. Gracie goes into labor and Dr. Kinsky emerges from the crowd to deliver the baby on a pile of hay by a community Christmas tree. Philip tells Catherine “this is the miracle” and asks her to marry him. Sometime later, a mural by Felix depicts the group’s Christmas scene on a building in Venice. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.