Not Ready for Prime Time

Celebrities make a pact with the devil, and that devil is us. We will make them wealthy beyond the dreams of Kubla Khan, shower them with awards, introduce them to an army of dewy young sluts and studs, and build them a fancy home atop a mountain of pure cocaine. This earthly paradise will last for an unspecified time period (subject to our discretion), but when it's over, baby, that's when we pull out our pitchforks. We cackle wickedly as we watch our former darlings get fat and old, as their fortunes dry up, as their vices and addictions take over their lives. We peek through their drawn shades to watch them suffer, and the more wretched and desperate they become, the more we love it.

There is a sinister but undeniable thrill to be had watching faded celebrities humiliate themselves, and you will probably never find more faded celebrities doing more humiliating things than you will in the new indie picture Jane White Is Sick N Twisted. This is a film featuring every second banana from every TV show ever, and they're all doing things any decent person would feel guilty about watching. Gaze in slack-jawed horror at the bearded drag queen played by Saved by the Bell's Screech! Shudder as you witness Marcia Brady portraying a would-be messiah with a stuffed bird on her head! Cringe as Star Trek: The Next Generation's Wil Wheaton (in an awful Elvis wig) passionately lip-syncs to “I Think I Love You”! Jane Whiteoffers all this and far too much more. Picture one of those goofy, all-star-cast movies of the Cannonball Run ilk, horribly crossbred with early John Waters. Can't quite imagine it? Neither could I before I saw this thing, and now that I've seen it, I can tell you it ain't pretty.

The story of a sweetly naive, television-obsessed young girl convinced that a Jerry Springer-like TV host is her daddy, Jane White is the kind of movie that sounds a lot funnier in summary than it does when you're watching it. If I tell you that Colin Mochrie—the underrated improv genius from Whose Line Is It Anyway?—has a scene in which he offers his backside to a woman masquerading as a transvestite prostitute, a scene in which Mochrie bellows, “Now spank me and call me Buttercup!” you're probably wondering how it could not be sidesplitting. But while Mochrie gives the scene his pale, hairy all, he's still funnier without a script every night of the week on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The film is lopsided and floppy, with scenes that go on too long and jokes that misfire more often than not. Jane White Is Sick N Twisted is fucking awful, really, but I still liked it. Which probably says more about me than the film, but there you go. I admired its go-for-broke spirit, its harebrained inventiveness. And that cast! Jesus, it's a camp-hound's wet dream.

Jane White has many faults, but its cast is not among them. Everyone here is fully committed to their role, and you can't help but admire their professionalism. Wheaton, for instance, attacks his scenes with real comic gusto. No matter what ghastly thing he's asked to do, the boy is in there like a pit bull. He has one long monologue about an amorous moose that is one of the most horribly fascinating things I've ever seen; beginning in quietly controlled hysteria, he gradually escalates to levels of histrionics that would make William Shatner wince. Wheaton doesn't just play to the cheap seats; he plays to the people in line at the concession counter, and damned if he won't make 'em drop their jujubes. Somebody get this guy a better agent! Jane White Is Sick N Twistedis a fascinating parade of celebrity degradation, but it must be enjoyed with reservations and with compassion. Pity the fallen star, for even if they did not deserve our absurd praise when they were riding high, neither do they deserve our scorn when they crash to earth. The talent of Jane White's cast shines so brightly it makes you wonder where they've been and hope that someday these fallen stars could rise again. They have paid dearly for our affections, and perhaps we have pulled out our pitchforks too soon.

Jane White Is Sick N Twisted was written, directed and produced by David Michael Latt and stars Kim Little, Wil Wheaton, Alley Mills, Colin Mochrie and more stars than there are in the heavens. Now playing at Captain Blood's Village Theatre, 1141 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 538-3545. Sat.-Sun., 9 N 11 p.m. $5.50-$7; Latt and Little host a Q&A after the Sat., 9 p.m., show. Free with admission.

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