Last updated
DVD cover for Tiptoes
Directed by Matthew Bright
Written byMatthew Bright [1]
Bright removed his name from the film, and is credited as Bill Weiner.
Produced byElie Cohn
Chris Hanley
Fernando Sulichin
Douglas Urbanski
Brad Wyman
Starring Gary Oldman
Kate Beckinsale
Patricia Arquette
Matthew McConaughey
Peter Dinklage
CinematographySonja Rom
Music by Curt Sobel
Distributed byReality Check Productions
Release date
  • September 8, 2003 (2003-09-08)
Running time
150 minutes [2] [3] (director's cut)
90 minutes
CountriesUnited States

Tiptoes is a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Matthew Bright, in what is, as of 2023, his last film. [1] The film stars Gary Oldman, Kate Beckinsale, Patricia Arquette and Matthew McConaughey. The film's plot revolves around an average-sized man (McConaughey) who struggles with revealing to his pregnant fiancée (Beckinsale) that his entire family are little people, as he worries that their unborn child may be born with dwarfism. The film attracted controversy for the casting of non-dwarf actor Gary Oldman as a dwarf. [1] [3] Oldman is also 11 years older than McConaughey, despite playing his twin brother. [3]


The film debuted in a 150-minute director's cut at Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon film festival. [2] [3] Bright was fired from the film during post-production, and subsequently had his screenwriting credit removed, after the film was re-edited without his involvement. [1] The 90 minute producers' cut screened at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where Bright criticized the film and the producers for re-editing it. [1] [3] The producers' cut went on to receive negative reviews, and in some reviews [ who? ] has been called one of the worst movies ever made. [1]


Carol—a talented painter and independent woman—falls in love with Steven without knowing much about him other than he is the perfect man. But when Carol finds herself pregnant it forces Steven to expose his darkest secret—his family. Steven happens to be the only average-sized person in a family of dwarfs, including his twin brother Rolfe. Carol and Steven are then forced to come to terms with the fact that the baby she carries may be born a dwarf. This terrifies Steven, who does not want his child to suffer the same way Rolfe did. As Carol decides to carry the child, she and Steven grow further apart, and she begins to rely on Rolfe to teach her about life as a dwarf.



Matthew Bright conceived the film when he was 18, as "a raucous comedy about little people fucking each other". [1] Thirty years after the screenplay was written, Bright's stepfather gave a copy of the script to Cops creator John Langley, who was interested in producing Tiptoes. [1]

Gary Oldman's portrayal of a dwarf was achieved through Oldman walking on his knees, and various prosthetics designed to hide his actual legs, as well as a double. [3] Kate Beckinsale agreed to star in the film for scale if she would be allowed to wear her "lucky hat" during filming, and Bright agreed. [1] On her first day of filming, the producers demanded that Bright tell her to remove the hat, and Bright refused, as this was the only reason she was in the film for a low salary. Arguments between Bright and producers persisted during filming. [1]

After turning in his director's cut, Bright was fired from the film. [1] [2] The film was re-edited without Bright's involvement. [1] Bright attempted to have his name removed from the film, but while he was allowed to remove his screenwriting credit, replacing it with the alias Bill Weiner, he could not remove his directing credit, as he was not a member of the Director's Guild. [1]

Release and reception

Tiptoes debuted in a 150-minute director's cut at Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon film festival. [2] [3] At the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where the 90-minute version screened, Bright criticized the film and lambasted the producers for re-editing his film, leading them to drag him off stage. [1] Subsequently, Bright would not ever direct another film; he later said the film's failure hurt his career. [1]

The 90-minute producers' cut of Tiptoes received largely negative reviews. In particular, the casting of Gary Oldman as an individual with dwarfism was considered offensive to little people, with Nathan Rabin comparing this casting to blackface. Co-star Peter Dinklage defended the casting. Another criticism was that Oldman, despite playing his twin brother, is 11 years older than McConaughey. [3] [1]

Bill Gibron of PopMatters called the film "insensitive", adding: "Clearly crafted as a wake-up call to all the nasty 'normals' out there, it substitutes schmaltz for sincerity to create a heated hate crime all its own." [4] Variety reviewer Lisa Nesselson described the film as "an honorable failure" that "comes up short in many departments", despite its "bracingly peculiar premise and astonishingly fine [performance] from Gary Oldman". [5] Based on 10 reviews, the film carries a "rotten" rating of 20% at the aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. [6]

Dinklage said the director's cut of the film was "gorgeous", but criticized the producers' cut, calling it a "rom-com with dwarves". [2] Oldman was included in BBC critic Mark Kermode's "Great Acting in Bad Films" in 2012. [7] Film director Nicolas Winding Refn has expressed admiration for the film, and after hearing of Refn's fandom, producer Chris Hanley sent Refn a copy of the director's cut. [1] Bright has stated that he hopes that his director's cut will be released one day. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 "The Insane Story Behind Tiptoes – A Comedy Starring Gary Oldman As A Dwarf". Yahoo!. March 14, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Kois, Dan (March 29, 2012). "Peter Dinklage Was Smart to Say No". The New York Times .
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Rabin, Nathan (20 January 2010). "It's Only The Size Of Your Heart That Counts Case File #154: Tiptoes". The A.V. Club . Retrieved September 10, 2010.
  4. Gibron, Bill (June 9, 2010). "Insensitive Things Come in Small Packages". PopMatters .
  5. Nesselson, Lisa (24 September 2003). Tiptoes review. Variety . Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  6. "Tiptoes". Rotten Tomatoes .
  7. Kermode, Mark. Great Acting in Bad Films. BBC. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014.