(Credit: Paramount Home Entertainment)
William H. Macy……….Gigot
Ned Beatty……….Gigot’s father
TNT presents a Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation. Based on the original story ‘Gigot’ by Jackie Gleason. Teleplay by Schachter and W. H. Macy. Running time: 91 Minutes. Rated PG-13 (for drug content and sensuality).
The opening scene of The Wool Cap has a man tossing and turning in bed. His name is Gigot and he’s the gruff, but benevolent, handyman for an apartment complex that probably has as many cockroaches as it does tenants. While snoring away in the dwelling’s basement he gets a rude awakening from his answering machine. People in the tenement are complaining about a broken pipe.
Upon fixing the pipe, Gigot completes a laundry list of odd jobs – busted locks, blown fuses, etc. – before settling down to a nice stiff drink. But it is when he changes the busted locks for one residence that Gigot’s life is forever changed.
Inside the apartment is a young black girl, sitting Indian style, her eyes glued to a television screen. She’s getting in the Christmas spirit watching Jimmy Stewart hunched over the side of a bridge. Her name is Lou (Keke Palmer) and her mother is nowhere in sight. According to Lou, this is typical. Sometimes her mom goes looking for employment. The next day, Lou’s mom and her stringy haired boyfriend Bernard dump the babysitting responsibilities on Gigot while they head to Philadelphia for a day. The mom returns but her stay is short-lived. And instead of being away for just a day this time, she’s gone for days. The days turn to weeks, then weeks turn to months.
So Gigot takes it upon himself to assume responsibility of Lou. A surrogate parent this fifty-plus year old handyman becomes. That is, after Gigot couldn’t pawn her off to one of the other residents. The relationship is a rocky road to start. There is a barrier separating young Lou and the scruffy Gigot. Lou can speak; Gigot cannot. He triggered a drunk driving accident, which left his sister dead and his vocal cords slashed. With his trusty notebook and a pen he is able to communicate his thoughts with Lou and the rest of the tenants.
Wise beyond her means, Lou begs, borrows, and steals her way into Gigot’s heart. She’s hardheaded most of the time, especially when it comes to reading and writing. Lou is two years older than everyone in her class, and she finds Gigot’s help to be insulting. Like when he’s trying to teach Lou the word “laughing”. He makes the mistake of imitating the action. She thought he was laughing at her.
What Lou lacks in social skills she makes up for with her ability to read people. It’s a new day in a new year. The snow has melted and exposed the barren earth underneath. Great day for some amusement. As Lou and Gigot sit on a park bench at a carnival she asks him, “She’s dead, isn’t she?” Gigot turns his head and nods solemnly. Drug overdose.
It is in this moment where the film changes focus. No longer is Gigot just a guy taking care of young Lou until her mom shows up. He has to think about Lou’s future. Prior to revealing that her mother had been dead, Gigot with the assistance of Ira (Don Rickles), the tenement’s self-proclaimed Communist, tries to fill out the necessary paperwork to adopt Lou. Ira is very resourceful when it comes to forms. Instead of basement as Gigot’s place of residence, Ira suggests “garden apartment.”
The Wool Cap is a story that works on so many levels. Maybe it’s the idea of a mute man bonding with a little girl, which, in many respects, is reminiscent of Leon bonding with Mathilda in Luc Besson’s The Professional. The film also demonstrates how that same man tries to reconnect with the family he lost years ago.
Keke Palmer delivers a remarkable performance as Lou. At first it seemed her only ambition in life was to listen to her CDs and watch the occasional cartoon. But in the span of a year she matures into a good-humored girl who attends school, has friends, and can sing and jive to her own rendition of “Rockin’ Robin”.
Steven Schachter, the man who directed William H. Macy in Door to Door, where Macy portrayed a door-to-door salesman with cerebral palsy, directs him again in another heart-warming tale. Using Jackie Gleason’s story Gigot as the underpinning for The Wool Cap, Macy, as the central character, has the uncanny ability of making you appreciate how a mute copes with living and communicating in a world where many find the ability to speak as easy as tying a shoelace.
VIDEO: How does it look?
The video quality for this DVD release is quite a step up from its original TNT broadcast. As a whole, the colors are fine with the exception being black. In some scenes the blacks looked washed out. It may have to do with the way the environments were lit. No edge-enhancement or grain that I could see. The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is presented in anamorphic widescreen.
AUDIO: How does it sound?
One TV movie, two audio options. What is a DVD aficionado to do? Well, the 2.0 Surround is your typical broadcast quality option. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track amplifies the musical score. Granted the score is mostly piano compositions, it’s good to know that your speakers can resonate with each keystroke. Besides the two audio setups, the disc comes with English subtitles.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Zilch. Nada. Zero.
Unfortunately, Paramount Home Entertainment was not kind enough to give The Wool Cap the special edition treatment. No TV spots, trailers for other Paramount releases, or a quick, EPK five-minute look at the making of the film. Those would have been customary. If the DVD producers could have finagled a commentary track by director Steven Schachter and star William H. Macy, now that would have been something special.