Jack Ryan, a charming but mischievous kid with a history of small cons, never nasty, as he always approaches life from the pleasant side, goes to surfers paradise Hawai, where dodgy district judge Walter Crewes enlists him to get to real big criminals. Jack finds himself teaming up in bed and thieving 'business' with Nancy Hayes, the greedy mistress of evil hotel magnate Ray Ritchie and his dumb lieutenant Bob Rogers, Jr. and a real temptress gold-digger but is about the only one without an hidden agenda... Written by
Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson) has a tendency for bad decisions and bad luck, including ending up on the wrong side of the law, so he's fled to Hawaii. Unfortunately, his luck is going just as badly there. He hits his boss, loses his job, and is thrown in jail. After he gets out, he sees Nancy Hayes (Sara Foster) and falls for her, even though she's the mistress of an island bigwig, Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise), and then some. Together they hatch a scheme to rip-off Ritchie, but how many people are involved, and how?
Was it that this large, talented cast was just looking for a paid vacation in Hawaii? I've liked most of the cast's previous films--I've seen tens of them from each principal cast member, and think there have only been a few I would pan. I've liked all of the adaptations of writer Elmore Leonard's work that I've seen so far (although admittedly, I haven't seen anywhere near the majority). But The Big Bounce is just a big, boring mess. I haven't seen any of screenwriter Sebastian Guiterrez or director George Armitage's previous work, so maybe we can blame them.
The biggest problem is that nothing much happens in the film for over half of its length, and when something does happen (primarily at the very end of the film), it is so poorly constructed that it's not very clear what's going on. Most of the film is more of a realist drama about, well, nothing, where Armitage seems to have directed his cast to say all of their lines with bizarre pauses, like they're severe asthmatics, and where Guiterrez' dialogue seems to primarily consist of banalities and non-sequiturs. There were a few moderately funny bits (the break-in at the cop's house, Bob Jr. (Charlie Sheen) visiting Nancy at an awkward time), but even those weren't laugh-out-loud hilarious when they should have been, and more often than not the script's attempts at humor fell flat, as did its attempts at realistic dialogue, intrigue, and just about everything else.
The large cast is primarily wasted. The only person not cruelly underused is Owen Wilson, and Wilson seems to be at a loss with the material. There are some nice shots of scenery, even if a lot of them are composites. I also thought the soundtrack songs were okay to good.
I haven't read Leonard's book yet, but I can't imagine that it's as uneventful, dull and ultimately confusing as this film. Even if it were, surely a script could be constructed out of the material that gradually weaves the various main characters' threads in a compelling and humorous way, leading up to an exciting twist ending. But such a script isn't to be found here.
Even if you're a big fan of the cast or Leonard, The Big Bounce is only worth watching to demonstrate that talented ingredients will not necessarily produce a successful film.
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