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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.75%
Worth A Look58.33%
Average: 2.08%
Pretty Bad: 8.33%
Total Crap: 12.5%

3 reviews, 30 user ratings

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Big Trouble (2002)
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by Scott Weinberg

"You'll have a good time for 90 minutes...and then forget it entirely."
4 stars

Much like a small dish of ice cream after dinner, the new comedy Big Trouble is pretty tasty, not very filling, entertaining while it lasts, and entirely forgettable after the fact. Clocking in at a slight 80-some minutes, Big Trouble comes off most like a relatively well-written sitcom. Whether or not a slight, albeit colorful and quick-paced feature-length sitcom is worth 8 bucks and a trip to the movie theater is entirely up to you.

Big Trouble is a lightweight farce that makes up for various storytelling flaws and gaps by sheer force of forward momentum. You'll be too busy counting subplots and keeping track of the characters to gripe all that much. That a solid handful of likeable comic actors show up and make with the funny biz helps a whole lot.

Based on the first fiction novel by popular humor columnist Dave Barry, Big Trouble is most clearly a screwball farce. While the novel seemed a bit more focused on the wackiness of the Miami locale itself, the movie version is more of a "konk on the head" affair. Those who find themselves enjoying big-roster slapstick like Noises Off!, Clue and Greedy should have a ball with this one.

The plot basically follows a large silver suitcase (which houses a benign-looking nuclear device) and the various goofballs who come into contact with it, including two frustrated hitmen, a thoroughly obnoxious embezzler, a pair of moronic criminals, a sad-sack advertiser, a handful of bored teenagers, an alcoholic security guard, two sarcastic cops, a lovesick derelict, some sleepy arms dealers, a gorgeous maid, a clueless dog and an agressive bullfrog.

The hitmen are after the embezzler, the homeless guy is in love with the maid, the advertiser is wooing the housewife, the two crooks are obsessed with the suitcase, the teenagers are stalking each other, the cops are in hot pursuit...and the dog hates the bullfrog. If this description already sounds amusing, odds are you'll get a kick out of Big Trouble.

As is often the case with an ensemble cast, some actors shine while others fade into the background. Although Tim Allen (The Santa Clause) is listed as the headliner in Big Trouble, that's not actually the case since a almost a dozen other actors share equal screen time. Faring most successfully are Dennis Farina (Get Shorty) as a Miami-phobic hitman with a hilariously short temper, Patrick Warburton (Scream 3) as a dry and obtuse cop, and Janeane Garofalo (The Truth About Cats and Dogs) as his long-suffering partner.

Zooey Deschanel (Mumford) delivers a fantastic deadpan performance as a disaffected teen, and the always excellent Stanley Tucci (Kiss of Death) steals four or five scenes whole. Tucci's presence in a film is nearly always a cause for celebration, but he really shines here - playing one of those ridiculously obnoxious bastards you just love to hate. Tom Sizemore (The Relic) is fitfully amusing as the world's stupidest kidnapper, and Andy Richter (Cabin Boy) earns a few laughs with an extended cameo.

The remainder of the cast are either just so-so, or they're suffering from roles so miniscule that there's simply nothing there. Rene Russo (Showtime) tries pretty hard, but it seems apparent that comedy is not her "thing". Tim Allen is considerably less grating than he generally is in films, but I'd hardly consider that a glowing endorsement. Actors like Omar Epps, Jason Lee, and the luminous Sofia Vergara are given basically nothing to do.

In many ways, Big Trouble is kind of a mess. The abbreviated running time and haphazard pacing (particularly in Act 3) are evidence of a few too many tips to the editing room, but on the whole Big Trouble is enjoyable fluff. The flick never takes a second to slow down, and most of the stops along the way offer something fun.

This is by no means a classic comedy. Given its meager length, lapses in momentum and characters that periodically vanish entirely, the flaws of Big Trouble are clearly evident. But despite its patchwork construction, Big Trouble is just a funny little flick and nothing more.

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originally posted: 04/05/02 17:48:05
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User Comments

12/21/12 raouljohn I missed the point of the story, but the third viewing made it clear! 5 stars
3/21/10 Maddog McCain Unexplicably funny. Might be because I love Dennis Farina, Zooey Deschanel and Dave Barry. 5 stars
3/07/08 SamanthaPayntr as funny as the book, i got to watch it again, i love Dave Barry! 4 stars
3/03/06 Anthony Feor Its good 4 stars
9/02/05 ES No rewatch value, tries hard to be an Americanized 'Lock, stock and two smoking barrels' 2 stars
8/08/05 Nicole Weinberg's review says it. Wanted to see this movie - watched and realized I already had! 4 stars
6/05/05 Ubu the Ripper OK. I admit it. I loved this movie. Don't ask me why. Maybe it was Zooey. 4 stars
5/13/05 Jennifer Regan Hilarious, a must see 5 stars
4/13/05 R.W. Welch Dumb fun. 4 stars
2/10/05 Jeff Anderson IT IS WHAT IT IS, ONE REALLY FUNNY FILM! Dennis Farina & Zooey Deschanel STAND OUT! 5 stars
10/05/04 tatum Could this have been edited down to the half hour sitcom it was meant to be? 2 stars
2/27/04 sarah knoxville! johnny knoxville looks proper sexy in this movie! meow! totally loved the movie 5 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon Comedy-lite, but digestible. Funny car rental scenes. Russo's got a great ass, BTW. 4 stars
2/11/03 Ubu the Ripper In the hands of a brilliant director, this could have been a classic...oh well. 4 stars
11/17/02 Tim Taylor Surprisingly funny movie!! 4 stars
6/28/02 Film Dude Hilarious! Great cast, only 2 jokes fall flat. 5 stars
6/22/02 Hepta Hooty Busy Holding Dick joke coudda ben funny if not playd by over-the-top PC icon like Garofalo. 3 stars
6/15/02 Rosa Zared Monumental achievement! Stars Tim Allen and Rene Russo and neither one is annoying! 4 stars
6/14/02 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Good except when OD-ing on PC of Garofalo's char, "don't look at my ass" and Buchanan joke. 4 stars
6/12/02 No supporter of Pat Buchanan, but..... Escapist comedy should be allowed to be just that; unamused by joke at Buchanan's expense. 4 stars
4/29/02 Obi Wan Was pretty good, but kept feeling like it was a total rip off of Get Shorty!! 4 stars
4/21/02 ajay funnier then I thought! I laughed out loud a bunch of times. 4 stars
4/13/02 Benjamin Leatherman Funny and stuff. 5 stars
4/13/02 JB Some good moments, good cast, but mostly dry already done jokes. 2 stars
4/08/02 Film Guy Funny, Good Cast 4 stars
4/07/02 natasha great cast, good fun, nice pace 4 stars
4/07/02 Nick2k funny good, not funny stupid. which is a wonderful thing... 5 stars
4/06/02 Film Dude Went in expecting shit. Went out with awe. True, it is very forgettable, but very enjoyable 5 stars
4/06/02 Peter Brook Dave Barry is a genius. Not a brilliant movie, but some jokes are a riot. 4 stars
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  05-Apr-2002 (PG-13)



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