"Trixie" has all the trappings and suits of woe of a comedy, but then it changes horses of a different color and turns into a thriller in the middle of the stream. That razes our expectations. It's not a success, but it's a closed mist, and kind of fun in its own ways and means.
I should warn you, however, that if you are not amused by cheerfully mangled language, you may think too much "Trixie" is not a treat. The movie stars Emily Watson as Trixie Zurbo, an undercover detective for a casino, who consistently and without flail commits a malappropriation every time she opens her mouth.
She gets her man "by hook or by ladder," she declares, and tells one bad guy he's a "Jekyll of all trades." Her sister is having a baby "but I don't know if I'm gonna be an uncle or an aunt yet." She often finds herself "between a rock and the deep blue sea." Trixie is hired on the overnight shift of the casino, which is located in a mountain area next to a scenic lake. She makes a pal of a lounge act (Nathan Lane). And she falls afoul of some local cheeseballs who are involved in the shade of influence peddling and real estate wheeler-stealing. That happens because Dex Lang (Dermot Mulroney) draws designs on her body. He works for a con man named Red Rafferty (Will Patton). Dex sneaks Trixie onto Red's boat for a little quality dock time, and they're on board when Red turns up with the crooked state senator, Drummond Avery (Nick Nolte), and the senator's maintenance squeeze, Dawn Sloane (Lesley Ann Warren).
The plot is standard for anyone who has read Ross MacDonald, or seen any movie involving gambling, real estate and hook-or-by-crooked politicians. I guess the director, Alan Rudolph, intended "Trixie" as a film noir satire, but he's famous for the loose flywheels on his plots, and this one spins off in separated directions. First, the movie starts goofy and then gets more straight, which is perplexing. Second, Trixie as a character exists in a whirl of her own. Her typical shot involves looking into the camera and intonating lines like, "Either fish or get off the pot!" Rudolph's characters exist at an angle from the reel world; when he works in a genre, he likes to avoid the genre's conventions, which sort of defeats its own purpose. With most genre movies, we know what's going to happen next but don't care. With Rudolph, we care what's going to happen next but don't know.