Journalists beware: If you're ever invited to a Martin Short press junket, maintain your best behavior. Otherwise, your slightest faux pas may inspire the latest outrage from Jiminy Glick, Short's uproarious incarnation as the rudest and most ill-informed and egotistical talk-show interviewer the entertainment world has ever known. The cartoonishly obese Glick, familiar to Comedy Central fans from the series "Prime Time Glick," now hogs his way onto the big screen in Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, an uneven but often side-splitting comic adventure with a wild streak worthy of Short's "SCTV" pedigree.

Upholding the "SCTV" tradition of zany, slightly arcane parody pastiches, the movie drops Glick into the unlikely terrain of a spooky David Lynch tale. Short himself appears as the spacey director, upswept thicket of grey hair and all, to narrate Glick's odyssey from a local TV show in Butte, Montana, to sudden stardom at the Toronto Film Festival, to key player in a Hollywood murder scandal.

Glick's celebrity all derives from the fact that he fell asleep at the Toronto premiere of young movie idol Ben DiCarlo's new epic, Growing Up Gandhi, and thus was the only writer in town to give this misbegotten picture a good review. When the vain, shallow, press-shy DiCarlo (witty newcomer Corey Pearson) grants Glick an exclusive interview, a media giant (literally) is born, and the rotund reporter is now sought by the stars. Unfortunately, Glick's new access brings him into contact with a motley bunch of show-biz types, including alcoholic fading star Miranda Coolidge (Elizabeth Perkins), her beyond-vulgar Eurotrash producer husband Andre (John Michael Higgins), and a bunch of hip-hop entrepreneurs who will do just about anything to promote their new animated feature, The Littlest Roach. After a night of debauchery, Jiminy wakes up to find the blood-soaked body of Miranda next to him in bed. Or was it just a nightmare? Leave it to David Lynch to plumb "the darkness of the unknown" and get to the bottom of this Lalawood mystery.

Working from a 60-page outline by Short, his brother Michael and Paul Flaherty, the actors improvised a la the Christopher Guest stock company. (Curiously, Guest's cohorts Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, both "SCTV" alums, and Michael McKean, the bandleader on "Prime Time Glick," didn't attend this improv party.) Some of the actors, including Short and especially Higgins (another brilliant Guest colleague), rely too heavily on truly raunchy rejoinders-the R rating is well-earned. The film, directed by Vadim Jean, was also done on the cheap and looks it. But, ragged as it is, this movie-industry sendup is often excruciatingly funny. With scenes shot on location at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival, Short punctures the insular self-absorption of the entertainment business, aided by some real-life stars in good-natured cameos. ("Kiefer! Kiefer! Kiefer!" Jiminy shouts endlessly in his high-pitched whine at a bemused Kiefer Sutherland outside a premiere.) The comic high point is a one-on-one between Short and his buddy Steve Martin, leading to a bizarre discussion of testicles that never could have aired on basic cable.

Though the movie feels haphazardly assembled, the mystery elements actually cohere and there's a method to the madness after all. But Jiminy Glick in Lalawood truly exists for those individual moments of hilarity supplied by Short, TV wife Jan Hooks, and a company of eager improvisers gamely trying to keep up.
-Kevin Lally