6.6/10
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156 user 56 critic

The Big Kahuna (1999)

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Two veteran salesmen dissect a sales pitch to a particular client, through their young protégé.

Director:

John Swanbeck

Writers:

Roger Rueff (play), Roger Rueff (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Kevin Spacey ... Larry Mann
Danny DeVito ... Phil Cooper (as Danny Devito)
Peter Facinelli ... Bob Walker
Paul Dawson ... Bellboy
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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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 May 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hospitality Suite See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$80,957, 30 April 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,150,107, 23 July 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kevin Spacey's character, Larry Mann is a salesman that talks about manipulating clients throughout the movie. At about the 34 minute mark he wears the hat featured in the movie's poster and is apparently pitching to a group of clients. The pitch is inaudible since there's music playing, a trumpet-orchestra version of Henry Mancini's theme for Charade (1963) which starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, a movie that revolved around lies, deception and deceit. 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.
See more »


Soundtracks

Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen) Mix
By Baz Luhrmann
Written by Tim Cox, Nigel Swanston
Published by Peer Music Ltd. (BMI)
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 Blam (Baz Luhrmann, Anton Monsted)
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Spacey Good, DeVito Great
29 July 2004 | by flickershowsSee all my reviews

Some movies are little more than photographed stage plays. 'The Big Kahuna' is like that. Most of the scenes are set in one hotel room and only 4 people have any lines. It could be said that all they do is talk, philosophize, and soul-search in this film. So if what they talk about is interesting and moves you, then the movie works. With subject matter such as religion, friendship, finding a meaning in life, and even the art of salesmanship, the characters definitely have a lot to say. And they're pretty funny, even if the film is too tragic to be called a comedy. Bottom line is, I'll long remember Danny DeVito's touching, understated performance.

He and Kevin Spacey (Phil and Larry, respectively) play experienced industrial lubricant salesman who've been sent to a convention in Wichita. Accompanying the two longtime friends and colleagues is a young co-worker, Bob (Peter Facinelli). They're hosting a small party in their hospitality suite for the elusive Dick Fuller. This is a client who could conceivably make or break their careers, but might not even show up to talk biz. Fuller represents the title character, although you could also say the kahuna is God. The final third of the picture delves deeply into spiritual belief and the search for the man above. Facinelli is devout, Spacey is not, DeVito rides in the middle lane and tries to keep the peace.

Whether or not they actually make the big deal plays second fiddle to the give-and-take relationship of the 3 very different men. Spacey is as witty and smart as usual, but DeVito is the soul of 'The Big Kahuna'. He's been good before, but he's generally a comic actor. Here, he's the straight man. The writer and director (Roger Rueff and John Swanbeck, who've never made another film) know how to give Spacey his big scenes and they REALLY know how to let DeVito play everything in expressions and tone. The filmmakers aren't breaking new turf, but they let their excellent actors act. Even if this is just another verse in the 'Death Of A Salesman' song, DeVito's got the goods on Willy Loman.


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