Big Trouble
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by Robert Ramsay and Matthew Stone, from the novel by Dave Barry
Starring Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci


Big Trouble

There's a running gag in "Big Trouble" - actually more of a two-shot, with a setup halfway through and a payoff at the end - that gives the film the greatest last line in years; and for that line alone you should be grateful that this film was made. And although better critics than I are busy finding fault with the movie - it's too busy, it's in bad taste (they seem to feel that a nuclear bomb on board a commuter plane headed for the Bahamas and set to go off in a few minutes is wrong for a comedy), it has too many characters for an 85-minute film - I'm proud to say that this is my kind of film.

(And if they're upset about the bomb, then why do so many of them think "Dr. Strangelove" is the greatest comedy ever made, when everybody knows that Kubrick had absolutely NO sense of humor, and NO ability to direct comedy? They're all laughing at the IDEA of his film, rather than what he actually SHOT, which is slow, self-conscious, and repetitious. Think what the Zucker-Abraham-Zucker trio could have done with THAT script!)

"Big Trouble" brings its enormous assemblage of characters together in a painless way, starting with Tim Allen as Eliot Arnold, a columnist recently fired from the Miami Herald (read Dave Barry, author of the novel from which the film was made, though Barry has not-yet - been fired). He has opened a small ad agency whose one client has arrived directly from hell. Eliot's son Matt (Ben Foster), involved in a high-school game called 'Kill,' where assassinations are made with a water pistol, is arrested at his friend Jenny's house (Zooey Deschanel), having arrived there and climbed the outside wall at the same time as two hit-men from Chicago (Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler), who are there to kill Jenny's father Arthur (Stanley Tucci), perhaps the most completely obnoxious film character in history, and Tucci plays him to the hilt. Arthur's wife Anna (Rene Russo), sane and sick of Arthur, soon finds that Eliot is the guy for her.

But I see I haven't mentioned Puggy (Jason Lee), who lives in a tree overlooking Arthur's house, nor Officer Monica Romero (Jeanene Garofalo), nor the Russian arms dealers, nor the big black FBI agents Dwight 'Heavy D' Myers and Omar Epps, nor the two thieves Snake and Eddie, who steal the bomb - did I mention the bomb? Yes, I did, but don't worry - nor the dog who hallucinates because a toad has perched on his food dish and squirts him with psychedelic spit - a slice of nature that will pay off in spades at the end of the film.

Is this a perfect film? No, because there aren't quite enough gags in it, and because director Barry Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black") is a little slack with his editing, and because the plot has perhaps two twists too many. But in an age when there's little to laugh at, "Big Trouble" will do till the world settles down again.