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The Big White
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Big White More at IMDbPro »

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107 out of 118 people found the following review useful:

Fargoesque!

8/10
Author: Martin Karlsson (Fist_of_Heaven) from Sweden
21 September 2005

The Big White focus on travel agent Paul Barnell (Robin Williams), and him trying to overcome his financial dilemmas. After failing to cash out the insurance policy of his brother, who is missing since 5 years and assumed dead, he stumbles across a frozen corpse. A new opportunity arises, but not without problems! While trying to get the corpse to pass of as his dead brother, Paul need to handle the two hit men (W. Earl Brown and Tim Blake Nelson) wanting their corpse back and keep one step ahead of insurance agent Ted (Giovanni Ribisi).One heck of a stew is cooking!

You can't avoid comparing The Big White with the Coen brothers' Fargo, since they're similar in style and story. Fargo, however, is better. But this film is far from bad, and it's not as black a comedy as the Coens-flick.

Acting and characters are wonderful. The script works perfectly. The pace is sometimes on the slow side, but not for long. The story is a mixture of love, comedy, drama, sadness and perhaps a wee bit of hatred. Good stuff for a movie in other words! You won't get disappointed by this film, unless you've got something against the similarities with Fargo. If you loved Fargo, you'll like this one. Perhaps even more. 8/10

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57 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

Underrated Film. Loved it.

9/10
Author: (fgrimes73@me.com) from Manhattan
4 August 2006

What a pleasant surprise this film was for me. I ordered it via Video on Demand through the Time Warner cable system. They listed two cast members: Woody Harrelson and Alison Lohman. I love Alison (see Matchstick Men), so I decided to take a look.

Then, the opening credits begin and I see, Robin Williams, Holly Hunter, Giovanni Ribisi, and Tim Blake Nelson, and I think, Why haven't I heard of this film before?

Usually, before I order a movie with which I am not familiar, I go to IMDbPro to read a review or two. I chose not to do that this time. After seeing and enjoying the film so much, I looked at a couple of reviews and one person tore it up because it seemed to be too derivative of the Coen Brothers' work.

Ridiculous and Cynical nonsense.

All films made now are derived from other movies, or TV shows, or books. The story and the acting pulled me in and I enjoyed myself very much. I can see what the reviewer meant about the film having a Coen brothers feel, but so what.

Bravo to all involved.

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46 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

"Fargo" meets "A Simple Plan."

7/10
Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK
29 July 2006

"There is a picture of my movie on a milk carton. Have you seen this movie? It's missing… I don't know what happened to it… it's a funny movie... a strange movie. But it's literally one of those productions where you go... phht, gone. Not even straight to DVD, just gone."

- Robin Williams

Some movies just don't stand a chance. Orson Welles and Sergio Leone both suffered the frustrations of seeing beloved productions sabotaged in front of their eyes. (Well, in Welles' case, "The Magnificent Ambersons" was chopped by fifty minutes while he was out of the country, but I imagine he ultimately would have felt the same as Leone, whose "Once Upon a Time in America" was butchered by Warner Bros.' editor and mangled into a two-hour mess.) But occasionally something even worse happens – the film just totally disappears. Jerry Lewis was passionate about "The Day the Clown Cried" until he saw the final cut – which was presumably bad enough that it caused him to vow never to let anyone see it. He is in possession of the only negative in existence – which is tucked away in a vault inside his home. He wouldn't even let his daughter watch it. For all the people involved in the production of the film, it must have felt like a rug had been pulled from under their feet. Work under grueling conditions and persevere for countless hours on a crowded movie set – only to realize your efforts will never be seen by anyone? "The Big White" is such a film – after generating less-than-enthusiastic reviews at a handful of North American and European screenings, its worldwide distributor, Capitol Films, pulled the plug and decided not to release it into theaters at the risk of losing money on advertising. The film died a silent death and disappeared for two years, before finally surfacing on DVD in Canada and Asian markets thanks to Alliance-Atlantis films. It has subsequently gained a small cult following and sales overseas have been better than expected.

Comparisons to "Fargo" (and there have been many) are valid. Screenwriter Collin Friesen mimics the Coen Brothers' penchant for wickedly dark humor, and even places his film in a snowy setting in the Yukon (the film was shot on location as well as in Winnipeg). Even the plot is similar: a down-on-his-luck businessman (played by Robin Williams) cannot afford to help his troubled wife (Holly Hunter), who seems to suffer from some type of "stress"-induced tourette's syndrome, and decides to cash in on the long absence of his brother (Woody Harrelson) by passing him off as legally dead and gaining a $1,000,000 life insurance payment. Unfortunately, Canadian law demands that a person be missing for more than ten years to be declared legally dead. So when Williams finds a dead body in a dumpster outside his office (the temporary storage place for two bumbling hit men who never suspect anyone will find the body), he passes it off as his brother and collects a check.

But a claims inspector (Giovanni Ribisi) is suspicious of the sudden appearance of this long-lost brother, and as he begins to investigate realizes what is really going on. Meanwhile, Williams' wife is kidnapped by the two hit men who want back their dead body, and brother Woody Harrelson returns after reading about his "death" in a paper – demanding a portion of the paycheck.

The finale is violent and unexpected, but the build-up is, at times, deliberately pretentious and decidedly "low-budget" – and if you've seen any independent film of the last ten years or so, you'll understand what this means. Long, artsy shots of nothingness; excessively quirky characters; brutal humor; vicious sarcasm.

But it's a fun movie. It's no "Fargo" but director Mark Mylod keeps it moving along at a steady pace. Williams phones in another twisted performance, but it's Giovanni and his girlfriend in the movie, played by Alison Lohman, who really stand out – along with Hunter as Williams' oddball wife. Although her profane outbursts become annoying after a while, for the most part Hunter manages to balance the humor and pathos correctly.

For fans of dark humor or independent features this is one worth checking out. It will appeal to some viewers very much, and others will probably loathe it. I found it to be agreeably distracting and thought its saving graces were standout performances by its cast. Apart from this, however, you'd be better off watching "Fargo" again.

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49 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

The funniest film of 2005!!

7/10
Author: Dominic Montgomery (dom462@hotmail.com) from Huddersfield, England
7 March 2006

Paul Barnell (Robin Williams) is an Alaskan travel agent having financial problems. His brother has been missing for some time and he attempts to cash in the life insurance policy worth $1m. Unfortunately, the insurance agent (Giovanni Ribisi) won't let him cash it in until his brother has been missing for a much longer period or until the body is found. One day whilst putting trash in a dumpster Paul finds a corpse that has been left there by two amateur criminals. He then has the idea of taking the corpse away and using it to pass off as his brother. What unfolds is a complicated plot involving the insurance claims worker desperate to prove that the corpse is not the brother, the two criminals attempt to recover the corpse by kidnapping Paul's mentally ill wife (Holly Hunter) and the return of Paul's lost brother (Woody Harrelson).

This film is hilarious and in my opinion is the funniest film of 2005. The complicated plot allows it to have plenty of comedic moments and well delivered lines by all actors especially Robin Williams.

The plot is very reminiscent to that of Fargo and A Simple Plan. All three films have a storyline involving Money, Death and Snow. Fargo and A Simple Plan have are more serious tone than this film does and allow the cold atmosphere they are set in to make the story more colder than it already is. The comedy in Fargo is much more subtle than this film and does not go as far. The problem this film has is that the quantity of comedy in this film almost squeezes the coldness out of the plot.

This film is definitely worth watching for the high comedy value it has but if you are a fan of Fargo and A Simple Plan looking for a similar dark cold thriller, prepare to be disappointed.

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29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

A new favorite.

9/10
Author: jacqc123 from United States
14 October 2006

I really liked this movie. I picked it up on a whim one night simply because Williams and Harrelson were in it. I had never heard of the movie before. It's wonderful. It's full of dark humor and light humanistic moments that are sure to make you laugh. You feel for Robin's character and you want him to succeed...even though his task is gruesome. The end of the movie even makes you feel for Harrelson's character whom is loathsome when you first meet him. I have to say, however, my favorite is Holly Hunter in this one. Not usually a big fan because of her weird accent, but she is laugh out loud funny. It seems as though she's simply pretending to have an illness so that she can do and say whatever she feels like. It's a great movie that hasn't received enough attention.

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28 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Darkly Comic, Intelligent Film

10/10
Author: from United States
28 June 2006

The Big White has some high-powered actors: Holly Hunter, Robin Williams, Woody Harrelson, Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Blake Nelson and Alison Lohman. I'm usually hesitant to see movies with so many amazing actors... usually it means the budget was big enough to get all of them and the players barely hold the film's bad script afloat. Not so in this case! The fact that the Big White didn't have a major theatrical release is hard to comprehend. Seems like that happens to some of the best films... the ones that aren't full of cheap laughs and actually have developed characters.

The Big White has been compared to Fargo for its snow, death and money. Not a bad movie to be put alongside at all! It certainly was influenced by Fargo, but diverges from there. This film is less about greed and more about deep love (searching for it and nurturing existing love.) Holly Hunter is a beautifully nuanced character and made me crack up several times. Robin Williams is in top form, comic and deeply tragic. A great vehicle for emerging actress Alison Lohman. Giovanni Ribisi is brilliant. Even the smallest characters in The Big White are detailed. The film has a slower pace yet it is never boring. The camera- work is beautiful and the characters are so interesting that you want to know more about them, even in their quiet moments, which is when they shine the most.

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23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

a movie to remember

9/10
Author: Andrei X (mvandrei2000@yahoo.com) from Romania
21 April 2006

In my opinion, this is the best movie of 2005. I don't know how much counts my opinion for you, but I can say i'm a fan of Coen Brothers, Kevin Smith and Tarantino. The cast is strong, including Woody Harrelson, more crazy and redneck than ever, Robin Williams, a desperate man because of incoming bankruptcy and a crazy wife, Holly Hunter his wife, suffering of Tourette Syndrome, Giovanni Ribisi, the mean insurance guy and Tim Blake Nelson, one of the two sensitive payed criminals. He also plays some of the music in the movie with his band. All of them have great performances, i don't know why this movie has such a small score. Indeed, reminded me of Coen's Fargo, there are a few resemblances. It is Alaska, and involves a kidnap Another thing that reminds me of Coens is the great great music, most of the songs played by the Eels and James. Oh, and almost forgot, another Coens moment...in the beginning, Holly Hunter's trip... Go and see it, it worths.

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Good ensemble black comedy...

7/10
Author: GoldenSnitch77 from Bournemouth UK
24 August 2006

I guess you could compare this film to Fargo or Mystery Alaska. Its worth a watch of you enjoy a black comedy. It has some great slapstick moments and the acting performances and direction are all fantastic. The humour may be a bit subtle for some people but I thought it had great charm throughout. The story line may seem a bit similar to other movies such as A simple plan, Shallow Grave and Fargo but there was enough originality to keep you interested. The Chemistry between Robin Williams and Giovanni Ribisi really works and you can tell the director gave them a chance to flow and add lib their scenes together. Some of the visuals out in the snow and mountains are stunning too. *** Rent it, you wont be disappointed.

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Not a masterpiece but entertaining with some good acting

7/10
Author: shmoukins from Canada
1 August 2006

I actually thought this movie was pretty good. I had never even heard of it, but considering that I really like Robin Williams and Giovanni Ribisi, I thought i'd give it a shot. So sure, its not a "comedy" in the typical sense of the word, nor is it a typical "action" movie, or even a typical "drama" - this movie fits into a mixed category. There's a bit of humor (the two gay thugs and Holy Hunter's character), there's a bit of drama in regards to the relationships, and there's a bit of action. But everything is pretty subdued. Nonetheless, I thought the actors did a great job, and it was "different", which I can appreciate. I normally am not a huge fan of Holy Hunter, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed her in this movie; her character was very interesting and she delivered it very well. And yes, maybe there are a few aspects that are "not believable" as the previous person who commented said, but what movies are completely real? Movies are not meant to be an exact replica of what life is, if they were, then we might as well sit at the bus stop and watch life go by. Maybe not a masterpiece, but certainly entertaining and very good acting.

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20 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Dark without being black

8/10
Author: adriennetibbitts from Canada
15 August 2006

I really enjoyed this film. I have to agree with everyone else, I almost expected to see some credit to the Cohens in here...

It was one of those hardly-any-there-didn't-here-about-it films, so I grabbed it and watched it with my husband.

As always, Holly Hunter did not disappoint and steals the show. Robin Williams is often expected to play a highly humorous role but sat perfectly in the middle of his dramatic and humouristic talent. Don't expect to be howling at fart jokes in this one...

With about the right blend of sensitivity, humour and "action", I would definitely recommend this flick.

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