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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 EricDSnider

"Hysterically funny and blissfully short."
4 stars

One of the most pleasant things about "Big Trouble," which is a very pleasant movie, is that it has no exposition. We leap right into the action, and the narrator gets us up-to-speed as we go. The movie drives up next to us, screeches to a halt, pulls us inside, and says, "Get in the car. I'll explain on the way."

To the extent that anyone is really the protagonist in this ensemble comedy, it is Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen), a former Miami Herald columnist who is now divorced and running an unsuccessful ad agency. His teen-age son, Matt (Ben Foster), has no respect for his loser father, much less his loser father's GEO Metro. ("How many clowns does it hold?" he asks the dealer during a test drive.)

As part of a high school game, Matt has to sneak up on classmate Jenny Herk (Zooey Deschanel) and soak her with a squirt gun. Jenny lives with her mom, Anna (Rene Russo), and her jerk stepfather Arthur (Stanley Tucci) -- "one of the few Floridians who was not confused when he voted for Pat Buchanan," we're told, succinctly telling us everything we need to know about the guy. Arthur has enraged his employers by embezzling from them, and on the same night that Matt is approaching the house to surprise Jenny, two hitmen (Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler) are approaching it to kill Arthur.

But that's not all. Two low-rent criminals (Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville) are causing trouble at a local bar owned by Russians who are really illegal weapons dealers. Two FBI agents (Heavy D and Omar Epps) get involved, as do two police officers (Janeane Garofalo and Patrick Warburton), and a homeless man namd Puggy (Jason Lee) is a witness to it all. Puggy lives in a treehouse outside the Herk home, by the way, and falls in love with Herk housekeeper Nina (Sofia Vergara).

Based on the novel by humor columnist Dave Barry (and adapted for the screen by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone), "Big Trouble" is one of those wiggy comedies where a lot of strangers are brought together by external forces, and where you can be sure a lot of animals will wind up involved. (This time it's goats.) Unusual coincidences are amusing rather than tiring, because they're integral to the plot. It's not like the writer got lazy and used a coincidence as an escape; the whole thing is based on them. Accept it and enjoy, or kick against it and be bothered.

The dialogue is often snappy and quotable (Herk family mongrel Roger was the result of "generations of hasty, unplanned dog sex"), and the running jokes -- Gators fans and Martha Stewart being two of them -- add to the mirthfulness.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld is on familiar ground, as this film closely resembles his "Get Shorty" in terms of subject matter and attitude. The pace is quick, the movie is short, the jokes are fast and the timing is sharp. Everyone who deserves to lives happily ever after, and love is found in the most unlikely of places. A comedy this merry is almost life-affirming.

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originally posted: 04/06/02 17:38:42
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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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