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When my husband and I heard that Barry Sonnenfeld was going to direct the film version of Dave Barry's first novel, we were pretty excited. Both men have a similarly nutty knockabout comic sensibility with a touch of the surreal, and this wacky farce about a motley crew of Miami citizens embroiled in a race to recover an atomic bomb seemed like the perfect vehicle for them to pool their talents on. Well, it was! Hubby and I had a grand time -- but alas, we seemed to be among the very few moviegoers who even gave the flick a chance! I guess it didn't help that BIG TROUBLE's originally-scheduled December 2001 release was delayed due to worries that a plot involving smuggling an A-bomb through laissez-faire airport security would seem more disturbing than funny after the horrific events of 9/11/2001. Maybe most audiences are still too spooked right now to appreciate the satiric possibilities in Sonnenfeld & Co.'s cynically funny, Billy Wilder-esque treatment of these elements -- but I hope that down the line, folks will give BIG TROUBLE a chance, because really, it's like what might have resulted if Billy Wilder had ever had an opportunity to direct The Marx Brothers. We were laughing throughout! The ensemble cast is superb, from Patrick Warburton and Janeane Garofalo as members of Miami's Finest, to Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville as dunderheaded crooks, to Tim Allen and Rene Russo's chemistry as single (well, unhappily married in Russo's case) parents who get drawn into the shenanigans when their respective teenage kids Ben Foster and Zooey Deschanel (both delightful -- I wouldn't be surprised if these two became big stars someday!) accidentally foil a hit on Stanley Tucci (hilariously obnoxious as Russo's dreadful second husband) by Jack Kehler and Dennis Farina (spoofing his earlier role in Sonnenfeld's GET SHORTY adaptation). Everybody gets a moment to shine, even Jason Lee as a hippy-dippy drifter and Sofia Vergara (who looks remarkably like a Latina Denise Richards) as Tucci's put-upon maid. C'mon, give this unfairly underappreciated gem a chance when it hits home video!
Dave Barry, author of the book, does a really good job of portraying humor about his home town (Miami), teenagers, parents, divorce, marriage, autos, airports, difficulties of working in a strange town. The movie is humorous, fun, and moves along quickly. You can enjoy a nice time with it. All the actors do a great job. I think some of my favorite lines have to do with arrivals & departures at the airport! Behind the humor are the scarey foundations of some of the major scenarios of the movie. (Can't say what those are; gives too much away.) So if you are in need of a comedy to enjoy, but which may leave a residue of some of the problems of today's world, watch "Big Trouble".
I've seen one user comment here already that unfairly compares Big Trouble
with Snatch or Pulp Fiction, but that's really neither here nor there. Big
Trouble is intended for an entirely different audience, and while it never
reaches the mighty heights of the former, it does a big crap on the latter
because it never takes itself too seriously. It recognises that the
doesn't want a film as a fashion statement, but merely as a form of
entertainment. The makers also recognise that they don't have the material
here to entertain and inform at the same time, so they just concentrate on
making the best comedy that they can. It is for this reason most of all
The strengths of this film are actors like Tim Allen, Jason Lee, Dennis Farina, and Tom Sizemore. I never thought I would say that about Allen, but it appears that when you give him decent material, he can actually make something out of it. Jason Lee is a pleasant surprise as the unwashed hippie who seems to just magically appear in a tree (you have to see it to believe it). Tom Sizemore, however, really steals the show as the thug who just doesn't quite seem to have the brainpower to do anything correctly.
Put simply, this is a crime caper that was intended for families who want to be able to take their pre-teen children to something with this kind of plot and not be worried about the content. Whether you agree with this marketing philosophy or not, it does allow for success of a different kind, namely that it succeeds because it is so unreal that the viewer can laugh without getting disgusted by some of the characters.
The things that detract from this comedy are some weak supporting actors. Zooey Deschanel even gives the camera the old "stunned mullet" look at times, while Patrick Warburton only seems to know one expression. Stanley Tucci can't give us anything to sympathise with his character over, and Sofia Vergara seems completely doomed to be a bit player for whatever little career she might have. The running length is a bit of a two-edged sword - on one hand, it makes sure that the film is never boring, and no scene goes on for longer than its welcome. On the other hand, possibilities for interesting subplots are often passed over.
In the end, I gave the film a seven out of ten. It's not rocket science, but if you sit back in your chair with a beer and some popcorn, preferably with some friends to share your disbelief with, it makes a good piece of entertainment that won't make you wish you could have those 85 or so minutes back. Recommended for those in a light-hearted mood.
Although I had never heard of humorist Dave Barry before I saw this
movie, I had a great time watching 'Big Trouble'.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld ('Men in Black', 'Get Shorty') does a great job of juggling the huge ensemble cast, and everyone (including Tim Allen) are all wonderfully funny and, it must be said, a little bit nuts. I particularly liked Dennis Farina as a hit-man who despises Miami (where the story takes place) and Zooey Deschanel as a deadpan teenager.
'Big Trouble' is outrageous fun for all, and this is a great comic ride.
Its been a while since a movie has made me laugh out loud... at home... on DVD without the help of a theater audience to provide a helpful laugh track... but this Dave Barry adaptation did it. The wildly slapstick script keeps its wildly varied cast hopping... and hopping admirably! Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Zooey Deschanel, Ben Foster, Stanley Tucci, Janeane Garafalo, Dennis Farina... heck, the entire ensemble is so good that I would gladly sign on for a sequel... hey Mr. Sonnenfeld, welcome back to funny!
I've seen it dozens of times, and still, I can't help myself but laugh
my a** off... Incredibly bright, fresh collection of timeless jokes,
gags, and funny situations cleverly bound together by one of
Hollywood's most talented comedy directors into a flowing, easy,
coherent piece of entertainment. This film's set must have been the
most funny workplace ever... I wonder how the actors have managed to do
the shooting, there must be tons of blooper reels in store... After
reading some comments here, I really wish to have a chat with some of
the people, who didn't find this movie funny... Or better - I'd like to
know, what films they regard as being funny, if not "Big Trouble".
And my last remark - it's been a very long time since I've heard such a brilliant movie score as James Newton Howard had written for "Big Trouble". Excellent job.
Perfect comedy of situations.
Better then book, as it makes better use of supporting actors.
Amazing movie, made in old style of comedies. Must-see for all lovers of the comedies.
It was most likely harmed by by airport security scene which was found politically incorrect after the 9/11, but its a comedy so I do not see a problem.
I would give it 12 out of 10.
Very nice review in Russian located here:
I still remember laughing so hard I was in tears in a theater filled with less than 20 people! A great cast and well written, this movie got the shaft after it was suddenly moved to a 12/2001 release (with almost no publicity)after the events of 9/11 because the movie had scenes depicting lax airport security. We Americans were far to fragile to see someone smuggling an atomic bomb and a gun through poor security! What people missed was a funny story and some of the best one-liners I have ever heard ("maybe you guys should plead Not Guilty by reason of stupidity!). Honestly, I have never been able to drive into an airport without thinking about Arriving and Departing ("We're arriving, but then we are departing?")and Florida Gator fans just get hammered! Great flick, get the DVD and see it for real, not the Comedy Central version.
Big Trouble all but exceeds Dave Barry's hilarious book, with director
Sonnefeld getting back into the drivers seat of comical movies delivering
hit here. Is it an Oscar film? Not a chance. However, it is a howlingly
funny parody of Miami and America that shows a lighter side to things.
the characters and lines that Barry creates for the audience are brilliant and have terriffic chemistry. There is no development at all, but the quipls, jokes, and scenes that the differant characters react in give you a real world view of what kinds of people they are. In addition, the camera work and acting jobs by the all star cast kept me rolling on the floor. Scenes like those in the bar and where the cast bashes Arthur Herk are more than enjoyable. The acting jobs really pull this off, with great in character performances from Sizemore, Knoxville, Allen, Russo, and the two Hitmen in the film. The acting styles from Allen and Russo that they approach the film with nearly save it. Instead of being the center stage of the movie taking away from everything else, they wisely stay away from the spotlight and let the chaos unfold around them.
the second sploy of this film that is more than enjoyable is the comical askew view of Florida. the several scene with the two hitmen from up north listening to the lifeless gator fans and seeing their facial expressions are comical highpoints. along with this are the one liners. "so are gonna help me or sit there like a big fat asshole." "STRIP SEARCH" these lines pop up throughout the movie and are hilarious. the film is fresh, funny, and a wonderful break from the everyday drone. rent it, buy it, love it. its money well spent for a rainy day comedy
I discovered Dave Barry in a Reader's Digest article titled "The Martian
Death Flu". That short story inaugurated a fascination for all things
and "Big Trouble" is a faithful depiction of the mind of this Miami
This Pulitzer-prize winning columnist meets the director of "Men In Black"
and TV's The Tick.
Sonnenfeld's touch and a good soundtrack contribute to this madcap misadventure where a hallucinogenic toad, a sub-compact car, and a 'garbage disposal' bomb make for an outrageous race to save a corporate embezzler's step-daughter.
An immaculate cast certifies the action will be riveting and breath-taking viewing after viewing. Thanks, Dave!
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