Big Trouble: Laughs Take a Backseat to Bad Language
- Monday, March 04, 2002
Big Trouble - PG -13
Best for: Mature teens and adults only.
What it's about: A mysterious metal suitcase, through quirky circumstances, brings together a cast of characters and changes their lives. Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Tom Sizemore, Stanley Tucci, Dennis Farina, Janeane Garofalo, Omar Epps, Jason Lee, Zooey Deschanel, Johnny Knoxville, Ben Foster, Dwight "Heavy D" Myers, Sofia Vergara, Patrick Warbuton and one big and very mean psychedelic frog also star.
The good: Remember It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World or The Russians Are Coming? Big Trouble is similar, with a lot more sarcastic dialogue and bad language thrown in.
Barry Sonnenfeld directed this unusual comedy/adventure, which relies mostly on slapstick humor and ridiculous plot scenarios. There are some funny scenes (most of which you've already seen in the trailers) and bizarre situations that make this style of irreverent comedy work, but it's the actors who bring the characters and story to life, making it entertaining and interesting.
Surprisingly, Allen and Russo play relatively "normal" parents of teenagers compared with hilarious and/or eccentric characters like Mafia hitman Farina, FBI men Myers and Epps, the sarcastic student Deschanel, the loser security cop Andy Richter, a pair of not-too-bright former prisoners Sizemore and Knoxville, smart cop Garofalo and her handsome but dumb partner Warburton, a wealthy self-absorbed Tucci and of course, the psychedelic frog.
Martha Stewart is humorously lampooned all through the movie, but she particularly shines in one of the most unique and unusual ways you've ever seen her on camera.
Of all the ridiculous plot scenarios, I particularly enjoyed one that manages to make a positive statement about teenagers and their parents. Allen is an out-of-work single dad whose son is embarrassed by him (because he drives a cheap car and lost his job), but in the end, the son witnesses his father's bravery and is proud of him. I also enjoyed the fact that the bad characters get what they deserve in the end.
The not-so-good: This "PG-13" comedy has a script loaded with adult themes and foul language. It's definitely not a kids' movie but one mature teens and adults might enjoy. Given that some of the characters are street hoods or Mafia types, you expect some dialogue that conveys their corrupt lifestyle or morals. But hearing God's name taken in vain (especially by Tucci) so many times (I lost count) was unnecessary and ruined the movie for me.
The movie has numerous action and chase scenes where property is destroyed or cars wrecked, and a couple of scenes where a gun is held on people. A few people are tied up, a bomb explodes in the ocean, a security cop drinks on the job and a man dances on stage at a dance club in a revealing Speedo. Tucci tries to seduce his young and beautiful housekeeper by sucking her toes (she ends up hitting him in the head and running away). The frog is the most unusual member of the cast, spitting psychedelic venom in his victim's eyes and causing them to hallucinate.
Offensive language and behavior: An abundant amount of profanity, including crass or vulgar language, and curse words. But to me, the numerous instances of taking God's name in vain and other religious exclamations were the most offensive.
Sexual situations: Russo wants a divorce from Tucci and announces that she has filed, but she's still a married woman when she seduces Allen. Tucci tries to suck the toes of his household servant, but she ends up hitting him in the head and running away.
Violence: The characters are hit men and street thugs, and kidnapping attempts are made. A man hits another man with a baseball bat. A man is blown up with a bomb in the ocean but nothing graphic is shown.
Parental advisory: This is a "PG-13" adult comedy with language and themes that aren't intended for kids (several parents with kids under age 12 were at my screening).
Bottom line: I have to admit that I found the premise of Big Trouble funny, and its plot twists made it very entertaining. I enjoy ensemble pieces that incorporate a variety of well-known actors in interesting character roles they might not normally play, and I laughed at some of the sarcastic and witty dialogue. Sadly, though, the story is ruined by the excessive language.
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