6.7/10
12,282
158 user 56 critic

The Big Kahuna (1999)

R | | Drama, Comedy | 19 May 2000 (USA)
Two veteran salesmen dissect a sales pitch to a particular client, through their young protégé.

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(play), (screenplay)

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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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Phil Cooper (as Danny Devito)
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Storyline

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 <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Every sale begins with a smile.

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

19 May 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hospitality Suite  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$80,957 (USA) (28 April 2000)

Gross:

$3,150,107 (USA) (21 July 2000)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First (and as of 2014) and only film directed by John Swanbeck. See more »

Goofs

When Larry attacks Bob he pushes him on a table with food and juice glasses. But when Bob gets up a moment later there are no stains on the back of his white shirt. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Phil Cooper: [voice-over] No answer.
Bob Walker: [voice-over] She must be out shopping.
Phil Cooper: [voice-over] God forbid.
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Connections

References Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen) Mix
By Baz Luhrmann
Written by Tim Cox, Nigel Swanston
Performed by Quindon Tarver
Licensed courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
"Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young"
Written by Mary Schmich
Spoken by Lee Perry
Licensed courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
Mix conceived and directed by Baz Luhrmann (as Blam)
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Special Markets
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User Reviews

 
A refreshingly intelligent film
18 October 2000 | by (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

This refreshingly intelligent film delivers raw intellectual power by retaining the look and feel of the play from which it was adapted. The use of a single set and just three actors throws the emphasis entirely upon the in-depth character studies, the incisive dialogue and the actors' outstanding performances. It draws us into the lives of three seemingly ordinary guys at a convention whose interaction broaches questions that are nothing short of an examination of the meaning of life. The dialogue unabashedly strips the characters naked to show the ironies and hypocrisies inherent in their strategies for establishing meaning in the machinations of mundane lives. The laser sharp exchanges slash relentlessly at the souls of each, leaving none of the characters intact by the end of the film. And with each thrust, they drive another introspective probe deep into the psyche of the viewer.

The presentation reminded me a little of `Glengarry Glen Ross' with its theatrical feel and deep reflective tone, although this film was more confronting and less darkly despondent. Roger Roeff's penetrating script approaches the meaninglessness of life from three unique perspectives. We have Larry (Kevin Spacey) the seemingly superficial cynic who has far greater depth than he lets on and who uses his sardonic persona as a defense mechanism to hide his own fears. Phil (Danny DeVito) is the pragmatic but jaded salesman who is great at putting things in perspective for everyone but himself. Bob is the naïve young Christian zealot whose antidote for the futility of life is a strong dose of Jesus.

The juxtaposition of Larry the cynic and Bob the idealist makes for numerous thought provoking exchanges, especially when we learn that Phil (our mediator and voice of reason) is drowning in his own soul-searching quest for meaning. The story poses more questions than it does answers, and sputters a bit at the end, but overall it accomplishes its purpose of making the viewer ponder profundities easily ignored while in the pursuit of everyday priorities.

The acting was brilliant. Kevin Spacey gave what I thought was the best performance of his career. This was so much more interesting and meaty a character than he played in `American Beauty' that Spacey easily eclipsed even that outstanding performance. Larry was such a dynamic and complex character, that Spacey was able to open up the throttle and show us the full measure of his considerable talents. Likewise, Danny DeVito delivered a personal best in a serious dramatic role. His portrayal of the mediator who was trying to keep the peace while he was disintegrating inside was subtle and powerful. Peter Facinelli was also near perfect with an utterly believable and sincere performance as the pure hearted whelp whose heart was suffused with the Lord.

I rated this film a 9/10, but it requires a certain type of viewer to enjoy it. It is a very intellectual film, which precludes it from having much mass appeal. Action junkies will be bored to tears. However, for those who have a philosophical bent, this film will be highly satisfying.


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Why does no one get that Phil is sleeping with Larry's wife? CaptThorpe
any suggestions about movies like this one? plentyofkb
6.5 out of 10 ? Why? plentyofkb
Best written and delivered dialog ever? brucedgo
Does anyone understand the Ending? flynn o' thick
What's the point??? spin-fu
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