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The Big Bounce

Starring Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, Vinnie Jones, Sara Foster, Willie Nelson, Bebe Neuwirth and Charlie Sheen
Screenplay by Sebastian Gutierrez, from a novel by Elmore Leonard
Directed by George Armitage

IN SHORT: Fun to watch. Easy to forget. [Rated PG-13 for Sexual Content and Nudity, Violence and Language. 85 minutes]

Ah, this year's Elmore Leonard adaptation. We look forward to these since we know from past experience that, at minimum, we're going to enjoy the characters and their interplay as their story hits the big screen. It would take an astoundingly awful adaptation to screw that up. Since we don't compare to Source Material we can't say if that's the case with The Big Bounce. Its characters kept our attention even as a way under-developed story unravels on screen. Topping it all off is the kind of surprise we hate to have sprung on us at the end of a movie, the kind which make come out of nowhere and serve no real function other than to drop a surprise on your heads.

On the other hand, The Big Bounce excels in presenting at least one set of characters whose developing relationship is a heckofa lot of fun to watch. The first of 'em is Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson) -- no, not that Jack Ryan -- a ne'er do well who roams the beaches of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Ryan has no qualms about crashing beach parties and removing all the wallets from all the clothes piled up back in the house owned by the host. The recklessness of the work appeals to the blonde jaw dropper that has caught his eye, Nancy Hayes (Sara Foster), girlfriend of married real estate mogul Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise). The bigger problem for Jack is that he has already pissed off Ritchie, whose number one stooge Bob Jr. (Charlie Sheen) has told our Hero to get off the island.

Jack's problems with Ritchie, for whom he is first seen doing some pick up construction work, involve a strong arm stooge named Lou Harris (Vinnie Jones) and a baseball bat. Said problem brings a local Judge, Walter Crewes (Morgan Freeman), into the story. Yeah, the judge can jail our hero but he gives the dude a job, doing maintenance at the Keiki Vista bungalow complex that he owns.

So, once Jack makes his play for Nancy, the fact that she is involved with Ray is why this pair go busting into houses, instead of just hopping into the sack. Things get interesting when Nancy tells Jack that she knows of a $200K stash -- payoff money from Ritchie to the local organized crime gangs -- just begging to be taken. Add to the character list Ritchie's wife Alison (Bebe Neuwirth) and a buddy of Jack named Frank, we think, who owes 1500 bucks to the aforementioned Lou to pay off a bad bet. We think. This last bit is such a throwaway that, when it becomes important, the utter lack of development in this story becomes apparent.

We're trying real hard to keep all the connections straight in this description, folks. The characters so outweigh the story that the "surprise" ending sinks the whole damned thing. We suggest that you ignore the fact that we mentioned that and plant just to watch all the characters interact. Who needs a rock solid story when you have enough other distractions to keep you happily shoving the popcorn down your gullet?

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Big Bounce, he would have paid . . .


Like most dateflicks, The Big Bounce is enjoyable and totally disposable.

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