CATEGORIES Features
The e-mail came in around two years ago with the subject line, "This can't be real, right?"

It was the trailer for the 2003 straight-to-DVD drama 'Tiptoes,' and as with all such forwards, I proceeded with caution and skepticism. I had heard rumors that this movie -- in which Matthew McConaughey plays the only average-sized man in a family of dwarves -- existed, but, like the Loch Ness Monster, it was the stuff of urban legend that no one could actually confirm.

I watched the trailer once, marveling at the painstaking cleverness and dedication someone had gone through to make it look like an actual movie. I watched it again, yet couldn't spot any of the real movies from which some cinematic prankster had pilfered the source material. I finally entered the title into this site's search page and was dumbfounded that this movie was actually made ... thus inaugurating Moviefone's new feature: "This Movie Exists?!" The e-mail came in around two years ago with the subject line, "This can't be real, right?"

It was the trailer for the 2003 straight-to-DVD drama 'Tiptoes,' and as with all such forwards, I proceeded with caution and skepticism. I had heard rumors that this movie -- in which Matthew McConaughey plays the only average-sized man in a family of dwarves -- existed, but, like the Loch Ness Monster, it was the stuff of urban legend that no one could actually confirm.

I watched the trailer once, marveling at the painstaking cleverness and dedication someone had gone through to make it look like an actual movie. I watched it again, yet couldn't spot any of the real movies from which some cinematic prankster had pilfered the source material. I finally entered the title into this site's search page and was dumbfounded that this movie was actually made ... thus inaugurating Moviefone's new feature: "This Movie Exists?!"

Before we go any further, let's get on the same page. Please spend 124 seconds of your life watching this. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Trust me.




For those too stubborn or busy to watch, allow me to sum up: McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale play Steven and Carol, a successful and happy couple living the typical successful and happy life. But Steven has that little secret (sorry) that he was apparently planning on hiding from Carol their whole lives. After finding out Carol is pregnant and that there's a above average chance the baby will be a dwarf, the couple must hold back on a limitless number of possible puns and actually think about how to raise the kid. Oh, and there's Gary Oldman. As a dwarf. In the "role of a lifetime."

Watching the trailer -- with its cheesy sound effects, endless parade of one-liners, raucous pub-rock soundtrack and Bad Morning Radio DJ narrator voiceover -- you'd be forgiven for thinking that this is a rollicking comedy complete with bad midget jokes and even worse contrivances (cue Oldman trying to get on a horse or something equally ridiculous).

In a bizarre bait-and-switch, however, the unfunny comedy you're expecting to mock is actually a serious (melo)drama with pseudo-thought-provoking ethical dilemmas and laughably bad dialogue. (Case in point: Patricia Arquette's proclamation that "the a**hole is the strongest muscle in the human body." And no, contextualizing that line won't help.) Somewhere in this garbled film is a point about treating everyone equally, regardless of looks. A fine point, but go watch 'The Elephant Man' or countless other films that portray that theme better and more coherently.


Peter Dinklage's braids would be #1 on virtually every film's
Most Absurd Moments list. In this case, it ranks 24.

Had this movie been released when McConaughey or Beckinsale were struggling actors and not in 2003, it would be slightly more forgivable. McConaughey, though, for all the jokes about his recent choice of roles, had the critical hits 'A Time To Kill,' 'Contact' and 'Amistad' already on his résumé, and Beckinsale had nabbed a London Critics Circle Film Award for Whit Stillman's 'The Last Days of Disco' in 1999. It's not as if either of them needed the money or recognition at this point. The fact is, one (or both) of them must have read the script and thought, "This is the film that needs to be made now."

While the pair spend most of the movie (presumably) pondering what happened to their careers, Peter Dinklage, for reasons that remain unexplained, plays a belligerent French Marxist named Maurice. In one memorable scene, a drunk Maurice fights with Steven's father (played by Michael J. Anderson, aka the creepy backwards-talking guy in 'Twin Peaks' [Yes, this movie has cast every prominent little person short of (sorry again) Danny DeVito and Bushwick Bill]) over the Little People's Defense League -- an organization hosted by, naturally, David Alan Grier -- that acts as a gathering spot for thousands of little people. "What you people don't understand is that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun," says Maurice, alleging that, um, dwarves should shoot average-sized people? The politics of a movie this deep can be a bit muddled. Oh, and Patricia Arquette plays a slut, whose solidarity to boyfriend Dinklage seems to rest solely on the length of her skirts.

Back to the main plot. Despite living with Steven for over a year and dating him for even longer, Carol has apparently never met, seen pictures of or even bothered to question her boyfriend about his parents. It's the classic, "Well, you never asked me if they were dwarves" defense. When Oldman, continuing his "role of a lifetime" as Steven's brother Rolfe, introduces Carol to the whole family, questions are raised.

Carol: "I think you could have let me know that everyone in your family's a midget."
Steven: "They're not midgets, Carol. They're dwarves."
Me: "I'm going to be sick."

Rock the "dad shirt" and apron all you want -- you'll always be
the guy who messed with Cooper's head at the Black Lodge.

What follows are numerous scenes involving melodramatic readings, slow-zoom shots and cloying, string-laden background music that's meant to convey the gravitas of 'Schindler's List' and ends up as weighty as 'Leprechaun In the Hood.' This is where I would normally show you a clip exemplifying my point, but nothing exist on YouTube, apparently because everyone on the Internet, unafraid to post monkeys drinking their own urine and dinosaurs with gas, is too ashamed to upload any of the film's scenes.

At the 60-minute mark (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD), Beckinsale has a baby boy who is, in fact, a dwarf. McConaughey, flexing the acting chops that made 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' and 'Surfer, Dude' critical darlings, is not happy, shifting from self-hating, yet empathetic, family member to raving lunatic (for some reason). He punches walls. He asks for extra chromosomes. He (again, presumably) Method acts, channeling his rage for anyone that had anything to do with getting him in this film to yell at Carol. Eventually, he and Carol get into a massive fight, with McConaughey uttering the inexplicably not-classic-yet line: "He's a dwarf! I'm a dwarf!" Separation ensues, forcing Carol to live with Rolfe. Want to guess how this one ends?

The auteur puts a hole in the wall after finding out his child is a dwarf.

Back to Gary Oldman. In a 2002 interview with MTV, Beckinsale explains how the 5'9'' actor transformed into a little person for what some trailer narrators have called the "role of a lifetime."
"He was on his knees," Beckinsale explained. "He was basically on his knees with a prosthetic part of his head and face and a hump and different kinds of harnesses to strap his arms back to make them short, and special clothes. They had various different effects, like if he was sitting in a chair, his legs would actually be inside the chair and he'd have these little fake legs sticking out on top. It was amazing what they did with him."
Amazing indeed. To quote The Onion's Nathan Rabin, "Considering that his lifetime includes playing Sid Vicious, Dracula, Lee Harvey Oswald, Joe Orton, Sirius Black, Jim Gordon, Beethoven, and Drexl Spivey in 'True Romance', that seems a tad bit hyperbolic. Oldman has had at least five roles of a lifetime. His dour Tim Conway homage here isn't one of them." (Credit to Rabin for noting that director Matthew Bright publicly disowned the film after a screening at the 2004 Sundance Festival.) On a related note, aspiring filmmakers, 'Tiptoes' was an Official Selection at the Sundance Festival. If that doesn't inspire you to churn out some brilliance, I can't help you.

The Role of a Lifetime

So a little (last one, I promise) thank you to the cast and crew of 'Tiptoes' for kicking off our inaugural segment of "This Movie Exists?!" We know it's kind of like starting a game of Horse with a full-court hook shot, but trust us, there are more of these gems than you can ever imagine.

And when in doubt, heed the words of 'Tiptoes'' overzealous trailer narrator: "When the going gets tough, it's only the size of your heart that counts."