High Strung: aka “Pissed Off” (1994)

A cynical children’s book writer who spends his days ranting about things that irritate him is further harassed by the appearance of Death, who promises that something big will happen at eight o’clock that evening.

Genre – Comedy

Director(s) – Roger Nygard

Writer(s) – Robert Kuhn and Steve Oedekerk

Cast – Tom Wilson, Steve Oedekerk , Denise Crosby, Fred Willard and Kirsten Dunst

Blue Rider’s Role – U.S. sales representatives

Distributor(s) – Summa Video, Image Entertainment

Release Date – 1994

Synopsis – Children’s book author Thane Fellows (Steve Oedekerk) is beset by a dominating mother, a neighbor who continually blasts loud music and an insurance salesman (Fred Willard) who perpetually pesters him. His career collapses and he begins getting strange phone calls, letters and voices in his head from a mysterious person who predicts his doom.

Critic’s Kudos:
Doug Pratt, Laserdisc Review: “Steve Oedekerk stars in the film, which has primarily one set and is essentially a 93 minute comic monolog. To punctuate the narrative, various characters turn up at his door, including an insurance salesman (Fred Willard) and the boss’ wife(Denise Crosby). Jim Carrey appears for about five minutes at the end, as Death, and while all too brief, his sequence is the highlight of the film.”

Viewers’ Ratings:
As of March 22, 2007, 79.4% of the vewers who evaluated High Strung at The Internet Movie Database gave it a positive rating, and a remarkable 44.8% rated it a perfect 10. All demographic groups applauded the film, but those liking it most were women 18-29 (who rated it 8.8 out of 10), women 45 and older (8.0) and men 18-29 (6.8).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Roger Nygard (Trekkies 2, Monsters, Back to Back, The Office; won two awards for Suckers and a Best Documentary nomination for Trekkies).

Written by Steve Oedekerk (Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, The Nutty Professor, Patch Adams, In Living Color, Barnyard; Oscar nominated for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) and Robert Kuhn (Mickey Blue Eyes, The Cure).

Stars Steve Oedekerk (Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle, The Godthumb, Thumbtanic, The Blair Thumb, Bat Thumb, Frankenthumb); Tom Wilson (Back to the Future, Back to the Future: Part II, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Action Jackson; won 1991 Best Supporting Actor Saturn Award for Back to the Future: Part III); Kirsten Dunst (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Wag the Dog, Marie Antoinette, Drop Dead Gorgeous; nominated for a 1985 Golden Globe for Interview With The Vampire; 14 other awards and 22 other noms for works including Spider-Man, Jumanji, Bring it On, Little Women, Spider-Man 2, Mona Lisa Smile, The Virgin Suicides and The Cat’s Meow; 30 other films and TV projects); Fred Willard (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, This is Spinal Tap, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, The Wedding Planner, Waiting for Guffman, Church Ball; three Emmy nominations for Everybody Loves Raymond; three awards and two other noms for works including Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration; 56 other films and TV projects) and Denise Crosby (Jackie Brown, Star Trek: The Next Generation, 48 Hrs., Pet Sematary, 10, Trail of the Pink Panther, Skin Deep and 45 other films and TV projects).

Cast includes Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty, Batman Forever, The Majestic, The Number 23; won Golden Globes for Man on the Moon and The Truman Show; another 34 awards and 50 nominations for works including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Liar Liar, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Mask, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Me Myself and Irene, and Dumb and Dumber); Ed Williams (three Naked Gun films, Police Squad, Father of the Bride, Meet John Doe); Ivy Austin (Grease 2, Sesame Street, Die Schelme von Schelm) and Paul Ryan (Coma, Star 80, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, Fast Forward).

Executive Producers: Vladimir Horunzhy (Sacred Cargo, The Dark Mist, Orangelove) and Sergei Zholobetsky (debut).

Producers: Roger Nygard (Six Days in Roswell, Creep Tales); Rubin M. Mendoza (Jennifer Lopez: The Reel Me, Hootie & the Blowfish: A Series of Short Trips, Michael Jackson: Number Ones) and Cirina E. Hampton (Southern Steel).

Original Music by Vladimir Horunzhy (The Forbidden Dance, Original Gangstas, Point of Impact) and Thomas Lieberman (Sweet Land).

Cinematography by Alan Oltman (Exposure).

Film Editing by Tom Siiter (three American Pie movies, Bush’s Brain, Nightflyers, Dracula’s Widow).

Production Design by Richard London (debut).

Costume Design by Susan Watanabe (costumer debut; wrote episodes of Girlfriends and One on One).

Memorable Line: 
“I was in Las Vegas, don’t ask why, when I got pulled over by a cop for making a right-hand turn on a red light. Prostitution is legal in Las Vegas, but I made the terrible mistake of doing a right-hand turn on a red light. I could’ve been having sex, on the hood of the car, in the middle of the intersection–no problem. I could probably avoid the ticket by telling the cop I was a pimp and was out for a late-night collection, but then she would’ve asked to see my hat and I would’ve been in trouble.”

Career Launch:
High Strung was the second live-action movie for superstar Kirsten Dunst.

German title: “Eine Nervensäge”

Internet Movie Database entry for High Strung