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Tiptoes

Those who find dwarfs a key ingredient of comedy may be surprised by the quiet drama of Matthew Bright's 2003 Tiptoes, which delves deeper into the world of little people than any movie since Under the Rainbow (1983), and a bit more seriously at that. Kate Beckinsale stars as Carol, a pert artist on the cusp of settling down with her man-sized firefighter fiancé, Steven (Matthew McConaughey). However, an unplanned pregnancy throws Steven into mysterious moods that Kate doesn't begin to understand until she meets his brother, Rolfe (Gary Oldman), a hard-luck writer who stands little over four feet tall. In fact, Steven is the only person of normal-height in his entire family, and while he embraces them with great affection in their environment, he carefully hides them from his everyday life. While Kate and Steven grapple with the odds of their own child being afflicted with dwarfism, and the attendant medical and psychological issues therein, Rolfe morosely attends to his own personal issues, such as his love-hate relationship with his childhood sweetheart, now a pint-sized slut of full-sized proportions, and his difficult friendship with a contemptuous French dwarf (Peter Dinklage) and his addled, normal-height girlfriend (Patricia Arquette). Tiptoes gets a lot mileage out of some fine performances, with Oldman and Beckinsale both excellent, and director Bright's presentation of dwarfism is neither maudlin nor precious. However, Bill Weiner's screenplay never probes its subjects for revelatory material, and some key conflicts feel particularly unexamined and artificial. Moreover, the novel use of dwarfs in key roles never surmounts the overall feeling of formulaic inevitability. Worth a look for Oldman fans, Beckinsale stalkers (she looks lovely throughout), or dwarf fetishists, or anyone who wants to see David Alan Grier (in a cameo) getting it on with a little person. Cult film aficionados may be interested to know that Bright, best known for the Freeway movies, also co-wrote the bizarre 1980 Hervé Villechaize classic The Forbidden Zone. Columbia TriStar presents Tiptoes in a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. No extras, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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