Big Trouble

"OK"

Big Trouble Review


How apropos it seems that the enjoyably outrageous screwball satire "Big Trouble" should open a little more than a week after the death of Billy Wilder, whose influence is felt all over this picture's breakneck comedic pacing.

Reminiscent, if mostly in spirit, of Wilder's lesser-known "One, Two, Three" -- a fast-paced side-splitter starring James Cagney as an American business man who stumbles into Iron Curtain intrigue in 1961 Berlin -- "Big Trouble" features Tim Allen as a fired, freshly divorced newspaper columnist who narrates a lunatic tale of arms trading and assassination attempts in modern Miami.

As one of a dozen characters with equal screen time, Allen's connection to the plot is almost peripheral, but he gives great voice-over (from the zany Dave Barry book on which the film is based) that helps keep straight the cavalcade of well-cast kooks to come.

The insanity starts for Allen because his sardonic teenage son (Ben Foster) is involved in a game of "assassin," in which he's assigned to squirt-gun a cute, sarcastic classmate (Zooey Deschanel, "Almost Famous"). A pair of baffled low-grade mobsters (Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler) screw up their attempt to actually kill the girl's arrogant corporate embezzler step-daddy (Stanley Tucci) when they mistake Foster for a rival hit man.

Tipped off that his company wants him dead, Tucci goes to a seedy waterfront bar to buy guns (for protection or possibly revenge) from Russian smugglers. But he gets kidnapped during a stick-up by two nitwit prison escapees (Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville) in sweat-stained tank-tops, who manage to miss Tucci's briefcase full of money but take everything else of value in the bar -- including a smuggled nuclear bomb they're told is a high-tech garbage dispose-all.

Add to the mix two trigger-happy, erudite FBI thugs (Dwight "Heavy D" Myers and Omar Epps), a pair of overly enthusiastic beat cops (Patrick Warburton and Janeane Garofalo), a blissed-out hobo with a Fritos fetish (Jason Lee), a sexy maid (Sofia Vergara) whom the unfaithful Tucci skirt-chases behind the back of his Martha Stewart-worshiping wife (Rene Russo), and a cameo by Martha Stewart herself (her head appears on the body of barking dog in a frog-venom induced hallucination) -- and I don't know what you have exactly. But whatever it is, it's an absolute riot, even after "Big Trouble" becomes a pretty sloppy film.

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld with the same jazzy air of semi-sophisticated lowbrow absurdity he brought to "Get Shorty," the editing often barrels right past parts of the plot in its obviously abridged 85 minutes. But its cast full of caffeinated comedy performances more than make up for its logical loopholes, which fly by so fast there's no time to think about them anyway.

Even with the rushed run-time, every performer is afforded the opportunity to fine-tune their broadly funny personalities with vaudevillian character traits, keeping the amusement level at maximum no matter how preposterous or plot-punctured the picture gets. I could write a paragraph each about the whimsical nuances employed by performers like Warburton (TV's "The Tick," and Puddy on "Seinfeld"), Lee ("Almost Famous," "Vanilla Sky") and Farina (who has the disgruntled tough-guy thing down to a hilarious science) if I didn't think it would get tiresome in a movie review.

The story culminates with the entire cast in a madcap race to Miami International Airport (which also happens in Wilder's "One, Two Three"), where the grubby, gun-toting Sizemore and Knoxville get past inept security screeners and onto a small plane with the nuke and a hostage in tow, heading toward a farcical finale. When I first saw "Big Trouble" on Sept. 10, 2001, these scenes were considerably funnier than they seemed in the wake of the next day's events. Upon a second viewing last week, I laughed nervously. But I still laughed hard.



Big Trouble

Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th April 2002

Box Office USA: $7.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $8.5M

Budget: $40M

Distributed by: Touchstone Pictures

Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 58

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Eliot Arnold, as Anna Herk, as Officer Walter Kramitz, as Ben Arnold, as Jenny Herk, as Arthur Herk, as Snake Dupree, as Eddie Leadbetter, as Henry Desalo, as Leonard Ferroni, as Officer Monica Romero, as Greer, as Seitz, as Puggy, as Nina, as Bruce, as Fly by Air Ticket Agent

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.