Despite living in a world where somebody made three films about sewing people together and calling them human centipedes, Tiptoes is still probably the wildest movie ever created. Allegedly, Tiptoes is a classic romantic comedy - it even stars huge rom-com stars Matthew McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale. There's another twist, though.
You know how in most romantic comedies there's some sort of misunderstanding or secret that keeps the two lovers apart? Well, in Tiptoes, that dark secret is Gary Oldman - who inexplicably plays a dwarf - is actually McConaughey's twin brother. What's more, McConaughey is the only person in his entire family who isn't a dwarf. This secret propels the entire film and threatens to ruin McConaughey's relationship with Beckinsale. Everything else in Tiptoes matches this level of off-kilter absurdism, making it one of the weirdest movies ever made, no question about it.
It's incredibly bizarre, but also unreasonably offensive.
Obviously, the marketing for a film like Tiptoes needed to be exceptional. It's a difficult premise with the potential to come across as incredibly insulting and demeaning, so the tone of the marketing is everything. But like everything else with the film, Tiptoes threw caution to the wind when it came time for the PR campaign.
Both the trailer and the guy narrating it can't decide if it wants to be a goofy romantic comedy or a serious drama. Every clip where it looks like something serious is occurring is undercut by a shot of a character trying to have intercourse or getting drunk at a party. On top of everything else, the trailer also goes and tells pretty much the entire story of the film, one of the worst sins a trailer can commit.
Right off the bat, one of the weirdest elements of Tiptoes is it asks the audience to believe Matthew McConaughey's character, Steven, and Rolfe, played by Gary Oldman, are twin brothers. Differences in the characters' stature aside, they look absolutely nothing alike, and the realization they're twins (as opposed to merely brothers) hits viewers like a hastily thrown brick to the face. In real life, Oldman and McConaughey are 12 years apart. In Tiptoes, that age gap looks closer to 30 years.
Different-sized twins have happened before in real life, but neither the actors nor the filmmakers make much effort to convince the audience of the duo's relation.
Tiptoes is fraught with uncomfortable issues, but one of the highlights is the director's insistence that the primary dwarf role be played by Gary Oldman. Because CG technology in 2003 wasn't quite as advanced as it is today, the production team resorted to some truly extreme methods to bring Rolfe to life. Kate Beckinsale described the process in detail:
[Oldman] 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.
While that's definitely amazing, what's even more amazing is the creators' decision to not cast Peter Dinklage in the lead, given how he's in the movie, a good actor, and an actual dwarf.
Despite being the "perfect man," Steven doesn't seem particularly close with his family. In fact, either because he's been deflecting or because Carol never asks, Carol and Steven become engaged before she learns every single one of Steven's family members is a dwarf. She only even learns that crucial detail in Steven's life because Rolfe comes wandering over one day looking for his brother, and the two meet unexpectedly.
While this almost certainly wouldn't be a big deal in real life, Carol doesn't take the news well, so it's wild to think that Carol and Steven never talked about his family and that Steven's plan was to apparently keep it a secret for eternity. Did Carol never wonder if Steven had any brothers or sisters who'd want to be in the wedding? Did she express any desire to reach out and meet his parents before deciding to spend the rest of her life with this guy? Seems like a conversation that should have come up before an engagement.