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Big Trouble (2002) Touchstone Pictures
1 hr. 28 mins.
Starring: Tim Allen, Tom Sizemore, and Dennis farina.
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld


Big Trouble

Rating:

  E-MAIL GIANCARLO DE LISI

Photo: Touchstone Pictures


You cannot have a good film without a second act. Such is the case with Barry Sonnenfeld’s ‘Big Trouble’. Tim Allen stars in this ensemble comedy that seemed to display potential, yet only burns off that opening act energy by jumping straight into the climax.

From its’ opening monologue by the homeless character Puggy, played by Jason Lee, the film teases us with a sense of uniqueness and charm that holds true for the first act. Unfortunately that is easily dismissed due to the lack of transition between the characters we have come to familiarize ourselves with and the rushed resolution. The credits seem to roll before they seem appropriate resulting in a flat film that could have been, but was not.

If a filmmaker intentionally packages a film within a short span due to lack of content, I can respect that. Yet ‘Big Trouble’ seems to have had much more to say and chooses to omit that in order to catapult our characters from one emotional polar to another. The film seemed to have had many elements, which were not embedded within the film and this in turn, permeates a sense of disorientation for the viewer upon the lights returning to the theatre. Sonnenfeld’s style in ‘Get Shorty’ reappears in this film as it is in the same vein as his previous film. The only difference here is the strong narrative voice over which guides our audience through a stream of character introductions.

‘Big Trouble’ has a set of characters intersect through a nexus of events that seem similar to an Elmore Leonard film. Based on the book by Dave Barry, this Elmore Leonard-esque story sees assassins, street thugs, law enforcement and regular Miami citizens all cross paths in what culminates to a hurried climax that as aforementioned, leaves a questionable resolution. All these characters are directly and/or indirectly related to a briefcase that harbors a deadly bomb. This briefcase is the center of attention and is the film’s main flaw seemingly.

Tim Allen stars as a failing ad agent who along with Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Janeane Garofalo, Dennis Farina and Tom Sizemore (always attempting his best De Niro impersonation even in a comedic role) all lend their talent to an ensemble comedy that does provide a good chuckle. This film is not a triumphant comedy, but similar to ‘Get Shorty’ it is a good looking film that jumpstarts quick. Yet as we come to sympathize with these characters, we cross the 45-minute mark where our climax seems to be created and shortly ensues thereafter. This surge in an abrupt shift begs the question: ‘Why so short?’

I have a theory. It is imperative to note that this film was slated for release last September 2001, shortly after the WTC attacks. In contrast with this fact, the film’s release was deferred until April 2002, and with good reason. In the climax, airline security is involved as well as an airplane sequence that although was meant to be comedic, is not. Somehow the mere idea of a man waving a gun shouting out commands on a plane does not spark laughter from the audience as was demonstrated at the packed screening.

The reason for this contrast was for a theoretical perspective. One possible reason why the film seems so short in duration is perhaps due to a possible recutting of the film. As much as the Studio heads want to deny it, the film’s abrupt shift in tone is not kosher and will lead many to speculate. Too be blunt, the film is too short for its’ own good and leaves the viewer feeling cheated out of the admission price.

Watching the first 45 minutes was a pure delight as we had some quick one-liners, even a cameo from Andy Richter as a drunken security guard. Yet when the film has these characters intersect all around the focal element, which is the suitcase, it completely downshifts and loses all built respectability.

I wanted to enjoy the film, yet the unforgivable omission of a second act is not unnoticed. The characters while well introduced and well developed for the minimal amount of time on screen, seem to lose their edge as a race ensues to save the world from this bomb that we as an audience could not care less about. Director Sonnenfeld photographs Miami in all its’ sunshine yet the film loses flavor after a ‘let’s save the world’ theme serves as a detriment to the enjoyment of this film.

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Giancarlo De Lisi
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