Jane White is Sick & Twisted
directed by David Michael Latt
(MTI, 2002)

If you were a fiend for television in the 1970s and early '80s, Jane White is Sick & Twisted may contain enough inside jokes to keep you going.

Not only is virtually every cast member a refugee of some notorious sitcom or miniseries, but there's a stream of constant trivia, quoting and self-referential riffs -- sometimes, with not a breath in between.

Jane White is an attempt at a creative indie project, with cameos that, essentially, comprise the entire cast, and a budget that allows for little special effects magic and few retakes. But too often, the whole thing feels like an extended Saturday Night Live skit.

I find that easier to forgive in a small but flawed effort like this; less easier to tolerate in a big-budget blowout.

The premise of Jane White is simple: a young woman, trapped at home with a mother who's afraid to venture outdoors, lives her life through television. Jane breathes television, dreams television, hallucinates television. It is her complete reality.

She wants to boldly go where no man has gone before. She wants the kids from Party of Five to be her friends. And she thinks talk show host Gerry King -- Jerry Springer, anyone? -- is her absent father.

So Jane hatches a plan. If she can become a guest that Gerry wants on his show, he'll fly her to Chicago to appear on TV. That leads Jane (Kim Little, Diagnosis: Murder) to try to change herself into a transvestite prostitute, to search out aliens who might abduct her and to run away with a man she thinks is a serial killer.

No, if you're easily offended, Jane White isn't for you.

What kept me going (and it's really only 90 minutes or so) was the series of sly little TV references. I may have spent my youngest years watching The Lawrence Welk Show, but MTV hit when I was in high school and, in between, there was All in the Family and Charlie's Angels and more than a few ABC Afterschool Specials. Add in a college fascination with Monty Python, and there was enough trivia to keep me going when the acting and script weren't enough (though, from the looks of some outtakes featured during the credits, some great stuff was left on the cutting room floor).

Where else will you see Squiggy on the same set as Michelle Phillips and Ted Shackelford, Colin Mochrie with Brady Bunch teen Maureen McCormick and Alley Mills of The Wonder Years reunited with Winnie Cooper, Danica McKellar? If those names mean nothing to you, skip Jane White. If they ring a boob-tube bell, there might be enough to hold your interest.

- Rambles
written by Jen Kopf
published 31 January 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.