The Incredible Mr. Limpet Movie Review
As Fran Tarkenton used to say, that's incredible.
One of the strangest films ever made that didn't involve David Lynch, Don Knotts stars as an extreme fish enthusiast named Limpet (too sickly and pathetic to merit a position in the military during WWII) who falls into the ocean one day and wishes so hard to join his water-bound brethren that he actually becomes one. He then finds he can help America in his new fish's body (an animated body at that) by surfing around underwater in search of German U-boats, then alerting a friend on one ship as to their presence.
I didn't realize LSD had become so popular by 1964, when Limpet was produced. But what else can explain this absolutely insane movie about a talking fish during the war? I don't even know where to begin in trying to critique it. The plot is bizarre and often inexplicable. Example: A big chunk of time is devoted to Limpet's lust for another animated fish whom he dubs Ladyfish (original!). I guess the undersea romance clues us in to the naval collaboration to come. The acting is perfunctory, which is probably what happens when you instruct people to talk to a point in the water where a cartoon fish will eventually be inserted.
The mixing of animated and live action footage was pioneering back in '64, and it's pretty difficult to watch. Unlike Roger Rabbit there's no recognition of the fact that Limpet has become a cartoon, only that he's become a talking fish. I guess animatronics had only come so far by then.
Ultimately, I think Limpet was intended as a kids' movie, but in the end it seems suitable only for the very, very young and the massively -- massively -- medicated.
This cult "classic" (I hesitate to use the term) is now out on DVD, complete with a new introduction by Knotts and a couple of extras. Knotts reminisces about the film fondly for a few minutes... before swimming off into the sunset.