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The Big Squeeze

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Big Squeeze

Starring: Lara Flynn Boyle, Peter Dobson
Director: Marcus De Leon
Rated: R
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: September 1996
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Danny Nucci, Luca Bercovici, Teresa Dispina, Sam Vlahos, Angelina Estrada, Gary Paul, Janet MacLachlan, Laura Ceron

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Rose are red.
Violets are blue.
You scammin' me?
Or am I scammin' you?

THE BIG SQUEEZE is a whimsical fable. As soon as the opening credits of unaligned type appears with their multicolor shades of pastel, the audience is served notice that a light hearted comedy is approaching. As the quote above from the press kit shows, writer and director Marcus DeLeon wants to weave a web where you are never quite sure who is on the up and up, and who isn't. If you are tired of big message films and epics and want to kick back and just be entertained with a simple little film, THE BIG SQUEEZE is just the flick for you.

As the action starts, con man Benny O'Malley (Peter Dobson) is kicked out of a boxcar because his hand inconveniently has not just four kings, but five. Down but never out, he heads into a local bar broke, but looking for action. He tries his come on lines to bartender Tanya Mulhill (Lara Flynn Boyle from THREESOME and RED ROCK WEST), but since she is married, they don't go far. He later switches his approach to the other bartender, Cece (Teresa Dispina), who hits it off with him.

Tanya is married to minor league ex-baseball player Henry (Luca Bercovici from PACIFIC HEIGHTS). Henry got hurt in a car accident a couple of years ago and has never worked again. He spends his days at the mission run by Father Sanchez (Sam Vlahos), and when he isn't there he reads constantly from his well worn Bible.

One day, Tanya opens Henry's mail and is aghast to find that Henry has been keeping his insurance settlement of $136,000 from her all of this time. His righteous stance is that, "Money is the devil's calling card. He is not welcome in this house." She wants to divorce Henry and get her half of the money, but he is a Catholic so he does not believe in divorce.

The show is about her conniving with Benny to separate Henry from the money. Since the mission fortuitously needs $136,000 for earthquake repairs or it will be closed down, Benny comes up with an ingenious scheme that he hopes will get the money from Henry. Along the way, Tanya goes to stay with a sweet gardener named Jesse Torrejo (Danny Nucci from ERASER and THE ROCK), and Jesse gets roped indirectly into the con as well.

Benny is a classic con artist. He laments to Henry that, "Whoever invented money? Personally, I could kill them. What with all the frustrations and temptations."

The show has an ensemble cast. Everyone seems at the top of their form. The director does let the show drag some, but the cast always gives it their all. Especially endearing are Boyle and Nucci playing two likable and compelling characters.

I have always been a fan of Lara Flynn Boyle, but this has to be her best picture to date. She plays the role in a low key fashion, and yet manages to own any scene she is in. I especially like the way Jacques Haitkin filmed her. He shows that her skin is not your typical glamour model smooth, and it is full of freckles, and yet, she looks alluring and seductive without doing much more than just standing.

The music by Mark Mothersbaugh is a whimsical blend of xylophones and flutes. The script is a delight from beginning to end. Speaking of the ending, it will have you guessing until the last. The are several endings possible, but in this life affirming little show, it doesn't really matter which one the writer chooses. Other than I wish the director had not let the show bog down as often as he did, and I wish he had kept the energy a bit higher, I have no other criticisms. A sweet little comedy.

THE BIG SQUEEZE runs about an hour and a half, but the press kit did not give the exact time. It is rated R. There are two fairly tame fistfights, a little sex, fairly mild language, but no nudity. The film would be fine for any teenager. I love the show and recommend to you. It gets *** in my book.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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