6.6/10
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155 user 56 critic

The Big Kahuna (1999)

R | | Drama, Comedy | 19 May 2000 (USA)
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1:37 | Trailer

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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 {J-26}

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

The spoken word lyrics to "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) Mix" used at the end of the movie and during the credits, released by Baz Luhrmann in 1999, were from a June 1, 1997 Chicago Tribune column titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" by Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune columnist and long-time writer of the Brenda Starr, Reporter comic strip. The essay began with the admonition to wear sunscreen, and continued with discursive advice to the young for living well and without regret. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement address she would give if she were asked to give one. (The column was widely circulated around the Internet, usually erroneously attributed to Kurt Vonnegut Jr..) The song was a number one hit in several countries (there are several versions: four of the song and two of the video). See more »

Goofs

When Bob leaves the room to find the Kahuna at the other party, he has his name tag on, when he is outside walking there, it is off. It reappears when he is at the party, speaking to the Kahuna. 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 »

Connections

Featured in Honest Trailers: Fight Club (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Young at Heart
Written by Daniel May
Published by Revision West
Courtesy of Marc Ferrari/Master Source
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Powerful performances outweigh stagey film
31 August 2000 | by dfranzen70See all my reviews

The Big Kahuna

This three-character movie, based on the play by Roger Rueff, deals with salesmen who are somewhat impatiently waiting for a very important business client - a.k.a. The Big Kahuna - on whom the fortunes of their company rests. Should they land the contract with this mysterious bigwig, their company will prosper. If they don't land the contract, of course, then they're all sunk.

Larry (Kevin Spacey) and Phil (Danny DeVito) are the salesmen, and Bob (Peter Facinelli) is the marketing guy. Bob's a rookie, and Larry and Phil try to prep him for handling himself with potential customers. They've rented the hospitality suite in the hotel to entertain their clients and are planning on having a small party, hoping that the Big Kahuna will show up. No, it's not Waiting for Godot, but it's along those lines.

This is basically a character study. There's a lot of dialog - virtually the entire movie takes place in the suite, with only a few very minor scenes outside it - and each word is absolutely dripping with meaning. There aren't any throwaway lines in this movie, folks. Most movies contain generic lines that would fit in any similar movie. Not this one. If you're a fan of well-written movies, this is a prime example of how one should be constructed.

But with such an emphasis on the dialog, there's naturally little action. This is always a problem with movies based on plays. They come off restrained, stagey, and claustrophobic. But the lack of action actually gives the viewer the opportunity to watch two decidedly different acting styles. Spacey is bombastic, punctuating each syllable with a sneer or a rant. DeVito, on the other hand, is more reserved and appears wizened as a result. Each actor turns in a stunning performance, with Spacey basically reprising the role he played in Glengarry Glen Ross. The only one who seems out of place is Facinelli, who is ineffective as Bob the marketing guy.

The Big Kahuna is compelling, as long as you don't mind talky comedy-dramas.


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