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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.31%
Worth A Look: 17.31%
Pretty Bad: 19.23%
Total Crap: 3.85%

5 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Big Kahuna, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"For Spacey alone, it's worth seeing...and Danny Devito! Come on!"
3 stars

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.

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
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User Comments

9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Boring not worth it! 1 stars
1/15/08 mb So called wisdom. 2 stars
11/27/06 Bluesoul Just the kind of movie you need if you want to think a little 5 stars
10/20/05 Indrid Cold The best dialogue-driven movie since "Glen Garry". Surprisingly profound and affecting. 4 stars
5/06/04 Jennifer Worst movie ever made in HISTORY! 1 stars
7/04/03 bigman Interesting throughout. End, while a tad unsatisfying, leaves an intriguing ambiguity 4 stars
3/04/02 Butterbean Guys exchanging bland dialogue doesn't appeal to me. Watch "In Company of Men" instead. 2 stars
2/03/02 Giovanni Great Acting and Character Development 5 stars
12/26/01 Michael S. Browne Perfect for what it is. Spacey is at his very best, + DeVito is phenomenal & heartbreakin 5 stars
8/17/01 DJ Lee Great to see writing back in a film. I believe the writer has created a classic. 5 stars
6/26/01 Brad Spacey at his best! 5 stars
1/01/01 bob jones Kinda lame, at least they showed shots that were really from Wichita. Nothing special here. 3 stars
11/01/00 SteelyTrip Phenomenal character development. You laugh your ass off. 5 stars
10/02/00 Zeitgeist zzzzzz... 2 stars
9/19/00 Monday Morning Pretty popcorny. OK characters but none of the ideas was that earth-shaking. 3 stars
7/05/00 Micah Scent This movie is beautiful and step by step reveals the glory of the human soul 5 stars
6/12/00 john smith enjoyed .. would've liked to have seen DeVito/Spacey mention to Bob he broke his promise 4 stars
6/12/00 Dianah McDonald Delightfully minimalist! 5 stars
6/02/00 skye glengarry it ain't 2 stars
5/20/00 Captain Highcrime Sometimes theater on film isn't as great as you would've hoped. 3 stars
5/15/00 PJ Well a mediocre little film with an incredible performance by both DeVito and Spacey 3 stars
5/14/00 The Closer Spacey is as great as expected, ditto DeVito, & Facinelli definitely makes an impression 5 stars
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  12-May-2000 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jun-2003



Directed by
  John Swanbeck

Written by
  Roger Rueff

  Kevin Spacey
  Danny DeVito
  Peter Facinelli

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