Director Barry Sonnenfeld, after his disastrous WILD WILD WEST, is back again
with BIG TROUBLE, a movie that has big troubles generating any laughs. LIFE's
screenwriters Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone use a Dave Barry novel as their
source material for BIG TROUBLE's script but can't seem to find anything funny
in it. Maybe Barry's novel just doesn't lend itself to a screen adaptation.
Tim Allen, one of many stars in the cast, seems to be reading extensively from
the novel in some of the most lifeless voice-over in recent memory. I kept
wanting to interrupt him and remind that the material is supposed to be humorous
and that he was not reading the phone book.
The confusing plot centers around a nuclear garbage disposal and a psychedelic
toad. If you've seen the painfully unfunny trailers, you've probably already
thought to yourself that this can't be that bad. It isn't. It's worse.
Sonnenfeld appears to have reassured his actors that it is intended to be such a
broad comedy that it will be impossible to overact. The result is shamelessly
There isn't a decent performance from anyone in the cast, which, besides Allen,
includes Omar Epps, Dennis Farina, Ben Foster, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Lee, Rene
Russo, Tom Sizemore, Stanley Tucci and Zooey Deschanel.
Let me give you a feel for what passes for humor in this lame farce. Pulitzer
Prize-winning reporter Eliot Arnold (Allen) puts a foot through his editor's
monitor when the editor demands a story. Boy, that's original. In another
scene, as Arthur Herk (Tucci) licks between the toes of the family's maid (Sofía
Vergara), he remarks on her "sturdy peasant arches" while his wife (Rene Russo)
and daughter (Zooey Deschanel) are watching television in the next room. The
maid runs away screaming, something that you'll feel like doing many times
during the movie. But don't be tricked as I was. Halfway through, I heaved a
big sigh of relief. After the pathetic first half, it had to get better, I
figured. I figured wrong.
BIG TROUBLE runs 1:25. It is rated PG-13 for "language, crude humor and
sex-related, material," and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.
The film opens nationwide on Friday, April 5, 2002. In the Silicon Valley, it
will be showing at the AMC and the Century theaters. Originally set to open the
week after 9-11, it was pulled by Disney, who thought, correctly, that kids were
probably not ready to laugh at terrorists with nuclear bombs who hijack
airplanes. They should have pulled the movie from theatrical release entirely
and gone direct to video without any fanfare or marketing. Burning the print
might have been an even better idea.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes