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IN SHORT: From the producer of, and costarring, The Tick . . . [Rated PG-13 for language, crude humor and sex-related, material. 85 minutes]
Long-term readers know that's usually a good thing (and we'll be more than happy to sell you our copy of vol. 1 num. 1 at a fair price . . .)
We don't come across movies like Big Trouble every day -- the kind where, when we leaf through the press notes before a screening, we find absolutely no description of story at all. Truth be told, concise and detailed descriptions come in very handy in this game, especially when the film in question is a big stinking pile and we have a lot of space to fill. Big Trouble isn't a big stinker but it surely is more a set of coincidental relationships than any kind of detailed, concise story; one where the press notes come with a numbered picture and list, so that we could put the face to the actor. Yep, a zillion actors and nothing but gags emanating from one pair of hard workers crossing paths, or shooting at, another.
The New Jersey based professional hitmen, looking for a quick turnaround in Miami, are Henry and Leonard (Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler). Their target is embezzler Arthur Herk (Stanley Tucci), husband to the lovely Anna (Rene Russo) and father to the lovely Jenny (Zooey Deschanel). Jenny is being targeted by the water pistol packing Matt Arnold (Ben Foster), son of loser ad exec Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) who will fall on first sight for Jenny's unhappily married mom. Both gunmen shoot . . .
Everybody take a deep breath. We're only halfway through the cast . . .
which brings policemen Monica Romero and Walter Kramitz (Janeane Garofalo and Patrick Warburton) to the scene. Monica's the top cop. Walter is a Puddy-clone in uniform. They'd all be partying except for the fact that ex-convicts Snake Dupree and Eddie Ledetter (Johnny Knoxville and Tom Sizemore, whose combined IQ couldn't crack double digits) take the whole kit and kaboodle, including live-in help Nina (Sofia Vergara) and a Jesus Christ lookalike transient called Puggy (Jason Lee), hostage. There is a horny dog and a hallucinogen spitting, dog-food eating toad out back and we haven't even gotten to the FBI agents (Omar Epps and Heavy D) or Andy Richter as the security guard who doesn't control anything, Universe included.
We could tell you what the Russians do, and what's in the suitcase at the center of all this commotion, but that would give away almost everything that links these characters together. We can't even cite our Third Act rule, since we can't figure out where the damned thing starts. That doesn't mean that director Barry Sonnenfeld didn't achieve the lofty aim of making us laugh, 'cuz he did. More than enough to have us walking out happy, until we tried to put the pieces back together again.
A low impact comedy has its place. It'll be killer if you were popping a brew with friends in front of the television, but there's time enough for that in a couple of months. Right now, take a date. No pain. Possible big gain.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Big Trouble, he would have paid . . .
That's somewhere around where the dateflick level will settle out, now that the ratings scale has inched up to the ten buck level.
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