But forget about September 11th for a moment and consider this: Is there ever a good time to release a film that endorses bribing airline personal for tickets to carry a suitcase containing a ticking nuclear bomb onto a plane? The answer is easy. Pre- or post-September 11th, there is no appropriate time for a comedy this poorly conceived. Big Trouble is irresponsible filmmaking; it doesn't even justify the space for an explanation. But since reviews are my business, let me try to sort out this movie's mess.
The film is based on the first novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and follows a chain of events inspired by the arrival of a mysterious suitcase in Miami. A corrupt business owner, Arthur Herk (Stanley Tucci), wants the case, but two useless hitmen (Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler) want him dead. Herk's wife Anna (Rene Russo) and daughter Jenny (Zooey Deschanel), are tired of his fixation with drinking and television so they find new love interests in divorced dad Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) and his son Matt (Ben Foster). To further complicated matters, two knuckleheaded crooks (Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville) steal the case and lead a Miami police team (Janeane Garofalo and Patrick Warburton, Seinfeld's Puddy) and two FBI agents (Dwight "Heavy D" Myers and Omar Epps) on a wild goose chase that ends inside the airport terminal.
This coveted suitcase initially works to the film's advantage, serving as a McGuffin - an object that is important to the characters but is of little interest to the audience. Because of all the fuss being made over the case, Big Trouble approaches something palatable as a dark (very dark) comedy. But later, when the contents inside are revealed, the McGuffin now becomes important to us. From that point forward, Big Trouble looses what little sense of humor it had and quickly turns offensive.
With Big Trouble, director Barry Sonnenfeld tries to relive the success of his previous ensemble piece Get Shorty by returning cast members Russo and Farina and giving it the same look, feel, and direction as its predecessor. However, with all of its plot absurdities, Big Trouble dwarfs the tremendous potential for these stars to have a chance of displaying any real comedic synergy. Their talents are a complete waste on this film.
At 85 minutes, the short running time is the only saving grace. But for the many who left my screening early, even that was too long. A better choice is the 8-minute cut of the film (seriously) included on the DVD. Or, if you're convinced you want to sit through the whole thing, Sonnenfeld supplies a particularly dry commentary.
How to "capture" an audience.
Run time: 85 mins
In Theaters: Friday 5th April 2002
Box Office USA: $7.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $8.5M
Distributed by: Touchstone Pictures
Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 58
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Tim Allen as Eliot Arnold, Rene Russo as Anna Herk, Patrick Warburton as Officer Walter Kramitz, Ben Foster as Ben Arnold, Zooey Deschanel as Jenny Herk, Stanley Tucci as Arthur Herk, Tom Sizemore as Snake Dupree, Johnny Knoxville as Eddie Leadbetter, Dennis Farina as Henry Desalo, Jack Kehler as Leonard Ferroni, Janeane Garofalo as Officer Monica Romero, Heavy D as Greer, Omar Epps as Seitz, Jason Lee as Puggy, Sofía Vergara as Nina, Michael McShane as Bruce, Siobhan Fallon as Fly by Air Ticket Agent
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