by Scott Weinberg
Based on the play 'Hospitality Suite', this movie LOOKS like it takes place on a stage. The only set is that of a hotel room, and the entire running time consists of long, deep and occasionally interesting conversations. If you can look past the obviously theatrical presentation, there's enough to enjoy.Kevin Spacey is a force of nature. Even when his dialogue ventures into 'extremely stagey or forced' territory, he spits it out with such conviction that you can't help but enjoy his performance. As the smooth salesman Larry Mann, he slides all over the room, ranting and raving. With a performance like this on display, you'd be willing to forgive a movie a few shortcomings. Also strong is Danny Devito, as his equally seasoned, but mellower partner, Phil. Peter Facinelli (Supernova) plays the young 'new guy', who's eager to learn and who's also a little odd.
"For Spacey alone, it's worth seeing...and Danny Devito! Come on!"
The three sales representatives for an industrial lubricant company are sitting in a hotel room, preparing for a party they'll be throwing in a few hours. The plan is to mill around with potential clients, and hopefully score some points with the big boss, Dick Fuller. (Clever names, huh?) Things get stressful after the party, when they realize Dick had never shown up...or maybe he had.
The plotline isn't the main attraction here, however. It's a simple framework on which writer Roger Rueff (who also wrote the play) hangs several 'deep and meaningful' ruminations on the topics of marriage, character, death, friendship, honesty, God and, of course, death. While many of these exchanges are both interesting and entertaining, it's difficult to tell sometimes whether these actors are acting or if they're just reading to us. That's not to say that the performances are bad, because they're not. This movie just feels like a videotaped play. While theatrical plays are excellent in their own right, a play is not a movie: Theater is more forgiving to actors than celluloid is.
It's a recommendable movie, as it will hold your attention and a few of the deeper conversations may make you think a bit. Certianly Spacey and Devito work well enough together to warrant an overnight rental. If it's not a great movie, it's because it takes more than a camera to turn a play into a movie.The Big Kahuna starts out strong, offers some great acting and a handful of clever scenes, and then limps to an unsatisfying conclusion. There are some intelligent ideas sprinkled about, and Spacey is fantastic.
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originally posted: 08/30/00 20:42:31