On the last evening of a convention two seen-it-all industrial lubricant salesmen and a youngster from the research department gather in the hotel's hospitality suite to host a delegates party. The main aim is to get the business of one particular big fish. When it becomes apparent that it is the lad who has developed a direct line to the guy, his strong religious beliefs bring him into sharp conflict with his older and more cynical colleagues. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Bob leaves the room to find the Kahuna at the other party, he has his name tag on, when he is outside walking there, it is off. It reappears when he is at the party, speaking to the Kahuna. See more »
Some movies are little more than photographed stage plays. 'The Big Kahuna' is like that. Most of the scenes are set in one hotel room and only 4 people have any lines. It could be said that all they do is talk, philosophize, and soul-search in this film. So if what they talk about is interesting and moves you, then the movie works. With subject matter such as religion, friendship, finding a meaning in life, and even the art of salesmanship, the characters definitely have a lot to say. And they're pretty funny, even if the film is too tragic to be called a comedy. Bottom line is, I'll long remember Danny DeVito's touching, understated performance.
He and Kevin Spacey (Phil and Larry, respectively) play experienced industrial lubricant salesman who've been sent to a convention in Wichita. Accompanying the two longtime friends and colleagues is a young co-worker, Bob (Peter Facinelli). They're hosting a small party in their hospitality suite for the elusive Dick Fuller. This is a client who could conceivably make or break their careers, but might not even show up to talk biz. Fuller represents the title character, although you could also say the kahuna is God. The final third of the picture delves deeply into spiritual belief and the search for the man above. Facinelli is devout, Spacey is not, DeVito rides in the middle lane and tries to keep the peace.
Whether or not they actually make the big deal plays second fiddle to the give-and-take relationship of the 3 very different men. Spacey is as witty and smart as usual, but DeVito is the soul of 'The Big Kahuna'. He's been good before, but he's generally a comic actor. Here, he's the straight man. The writer and director (Roger Rueff and John Swanbeck, who've never made another film) know how to give Spacey his big scenes and they REALLY know how to let DeVito play everything in expressions and tone. The filmmakers aren't breaking new turf, but they let their excellent actors act. Even if this is just another verse in the 'Death Of A Salesman' song, DeVito's got the goods on Willy Loman.
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