11 user 8 critic

Big Time (1988)

Bringing his unique sense of humor to this bizarre and original piece of moviemaking, Tom Waits takes the audience through a musical journey with his jazzy, quirky, bluesy tunes presented ... See full summary »


Chris Blum




Cast overview:
Tom Waits ... Self
Michael L. Blair Michael L. Blair ... Self - Musician (as Michael Blair)
Ralph Carney Ralph Carney ... Self - Musician
Greg Cohen ... Self - Musician
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot ... Self - Musician
Willie Schwarz Willie Schwarz ... Self - Musician
Miss Keiko Miss Keiko ... Featured Performer
Gerty the Monkey Gerty the Monkey ... Featured Performer
Adam Bomb Adam Bomb ... Spanish Announcer (voice)


Bringing his unique sense of humor to this bizarre and original piece of moviemaking, Tom Waits takes the audience through a musical journey with his jazzy, quirky, bluesy tunes presented as you would never, ever, ever expect. Written by Sam Hayes <gshayes@mail.gwi.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The concert was "the best live performance of the year." The movie is BIG TIME.


Documentary | Music


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Tom Waits: Alright, we're gonna do you a little story here. It's about a place in Minneapolis. In Minnesota. It's one of those dreams where everyone you never want to see again - showed up. "My Uncle Phil, over there. Shit! I owe him money. Money." This is about a street corner called...
Tom Waits: It's 9th and Hennepin, And all the donuts around here have, Names that sound like prostitutes, The moon's teeth marks are on the sky, Like a tarp thrown all over this...
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Spoofed in Documentary Now!: Final Transmission (2016) See more »


Johnsburg, Illinois
Written by Tom Waits
Performed by Tom Waits
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User Reviews

to quote the man hissef "beautiful maladies"
28 October 2005 | by johatzSee all my reviews

There is a brilliance in the seemingly unintentional fluidity of the music is Waits' power. It is theatrically awful, in the sense that it includes music that is interesting in its ferocity and its failures but also exists as a remodeling of what is tangible about consciously produced sound. It is music, undeniably, it is watching MTV in the mid eighties through a dirty window in a smoke filled room with an obese man dancing and singing along. It is an event, a living process and a benevolent cultural tumor. See it. Allow it. Learn.

I grew aware of a certain truth that is unrelated to reality. The truth of a person. Tom Waits is an instrument of himself. He has fashioned a persona that is so real, and simultaneously so fantastical that it cannot be fraudulent. His presence is haunting, human entirely aware and yet still skewed. His music is that of perspectives. Each note, of each strange instrument carries its own voice. The collective whole does not then become an singly integrated piece but a turbulent chorus of voices and desires. It's as though the instruments are arguing about which direction they are going and in their argument become the songs, the melodies, as though they had no intention of doing so but happened to. There is no good excuse that his music has not prevented trifling, logical and in-specific pop music. I blame myself.

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Release Date:

20 October 1988 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Big Time See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


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Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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