An ode to Martin Short in Get Over It

“Bill Shakespeare was a wonderful poet but Burt Bacharach he ain’t.”

With these words Dr. Desmond Forrest Oates, a name and character more suited to breakfast cereal than high school directing, sets forth the premise to a retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that happens to star Sisqo.

Get Over It is the premiere teen comedy of the ’90s that features Kirsten Dunst (and I say that loving Bring It On wholeheartedly). I could write a love letter of, ooh, 800 to 900 words on my feelings towards the modest 2001 hit but of all the possible facets to love, it is Martin Short’s performance that most stands out.

Courtesy: Momentum Pictures
Courtesy: Momentum Pictures

Befitting its (loose) source material, Get Over It sees a love trapezoid of teenage lust and fixation. While Doug (Ben Foster) attempts to woo his former girlfriend Allison (Melissa Sagemiller) away from Striker (Shane West) he remains oblivious to the advances of his best friend’s sister, Kelly (Dunst). Compounding the film’s complexity, much the same occurs in the very play the students are set to perform – it’s all positively Shakespearean.

Short’s scene-stealing should take some doing in a film that also stars Ben Foster, Kirsten Dunst, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Colin Hanks and he of the ‘Thong Song’, Sisqo. But it all seems so effortless to the SNL veteran. His minutes on screen may only amount to single figures but it hardly seems it. But then, Short has made a living from imbuing bit-part characters with substance – witness the slimy, defensive defense attorney Nathan Thurm from old-school Saturday Night Live, or re-watch Franck Eggelhoffer from Father of the Bride. Eccentricity is Short’s bread and nutter.

Suitably or not, Drama teachers rarely get an easy ride up on screen, whether in film (Hamlet 2) or on television (Summer Heights High). Preening, pretentious, haunted by past glories either real or imagined – Oates is all these things, lost in memories of his one-man Hamlet or the failed attempt to hand Diana Ross his self-penned song, ‘Pocketful of Dreams’. Oh, what might have been.

Now, at the age of “thirty-er-four” he’s swinging for the big leagues once more with “A Midsummer Night’s Rockin’ Eve”, a musical retelling of the Bard’s greatest romcom. A retelling featuring twelve original songs by Dr. Desmond Forrest Oates.

Armed with a ferocious musical presence and a unique motivational style – “methinks thou best not botch it!” – the man works his heart out, endeavouring for the sweetest musical sound of all, one that even Diana Ross couldn’t turn down: applause.

Much credit must go to the film’s writer R. Lee Fleming, Jr. a man who cut his teeth on She’s All That (though not if you believe M. Night Shyamalan’s claim that he was the man responsible – what a twist!) and would go onto stints writing for One Tree Hill and The Lying Game. While he has demonstrated the knack for the right words, Martin Short has the right voice.

Ignoring a few gross-out moments that lower the tone just a little, Get Over It is an underrated comic gem. And Martin Short, though not the largest chunk of that gem, is the sparkliest, shiniest part.

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