Tiptoes (2003) apparently has a director’s cut of 150 minutes which is an hour longer than the widely released producer’s cut that I saw and will be writing about. The 90 minute cut has become a kind of cult classic while the longer version, which is supposedly beautiful, languishes in obscurity unreleased. The version I saw was a grotesque exercise in filmmaking trying to pass as a PSA on behalf of little people that accomplishes little more than managing to offend everyone imaginable.
One of the major issues is that the script is funny. There are some real zingers in the dialogue that appear to be delivered sans the humor. It’s an odd anomaly that one really only sees in films that have been tinkered with to the point that they’re incomprehensible. But it’s the sincerity that the actors bring to their line readings that make this film a cult favorite along the same lines as Showgirls (1995). I mean, who doesn’t want to hear Matthew McConaughey scream in anger “I’m a dwarf!”?
Tiptoes also boasts one of the most unusual casts I have ever seen in a movie. There’s Matthew McConaughey who plays Gary Oldman’s twin brother (though Oldman himself is acting on his knees playing a little person), Kate Beckinsale who plays an artist that both brothers are in love with, Peter Dinklage plays a roguish socialist who is having an affair with a hooker played by Patricia Arquette (in dreadlocks no less) and Michael J. Anderson of Twin Peaks fame plays the father of Oldman and McConaughey’s twin brothers. It’s such a weird cast that’s somehow still very much of its moment. Only in 2003 would anyone propose that Gary Oldman play Matthew McConaughey’s brother.
When you watch Tiptoes you cringe because you know it’s so offensive too little people. The film is so pervasively tasteless that it’s almost unimaginable to me that Matthew Bright’s longer director’s cut could be anything else. If the film had a little more of a sense of irony it might walk that delicate line of offensiveness that John Waters calls his own, but there’s nothing ironic or satirical here.
At best, in the producer’s cut, one can enjoy Tiptoes as a kind of guilty pleasure, an instance of “it’s so bad it’s good”. Beyond that there isn’t much to recommend this infamous stinker. However, I do think that if the director’s cut is ever made available it would be worth checking out. There are some glimmers of actual artistry beneath the surface of Tiptoes, particularly where Dinklage and Beckinsale are concerned. Maybe one day both cuts of the film will be released in a single package and this mystery can be put to rest.