BIG BOUNCE, THE
Looking for a change of scene, beach bum and general ne’er do well Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson) heads for Hawaii, where he meets real estate developer Ray Ritchie (Charlie Sheen) and becomes entangled with Ray’s mistress, Nancy Hayes (Sara Foster). When Nancy tries to persuade Jack to help rip off Ray for $200,000, Jack is intrigued both by the scheme and by Nancy herself, though his friend and new boss Walter (Morgan Freeman), warns him that getting involved with her can only lead to trouble.
Review by Jake Wilson:
This one’s a puzzle. Adapted from an Elmore Leonard thriller written several decades ago, it resembles a classy TV pilot from the 1980s: the storytelling is so relaxed it feels almost inconsequential, and corny aerial shots of crashing waves and swaying palm trees are regularly inserted to remind us of the Hawaiian setting. Yet the supporting cast includes an array of well-known actors whom I never expected to see in the same movie: Morgan Freeman, Vinnie Jones, Harry Dean Stanton, even Willie Nelson.
Clearly, the production didn’t quite come together as intended, and the abrupt, unsatisfying ending suggests studio interference (indeed, the whole climax seems to have been cut out). Yet this is still one of the more enjoyable films around at the moment. Though his stoned falsetto and air of dawdling amusement are becoming familiar, Owen Wilson has few rivals among his generation in Hollywood as a leading man who can be charming and funny at once.
As the woman who seduces him further into crime, Sara Foster is gorgeous in a slightly impersonal way; this is her first major film role, and it’s no surprise at all to learn that she’s a former model and host of Entertainment Tonight. But her chemistry with Wilson is undeniable, and the director, George Armitage, clearly couldn’t be happier to follow these two around various idyllic locations and film them flirting with each other.
The situation may be out of film noir, but their banter has a teasing sophistication matched by few recent romantic comedies – the sexual confidence of both characters (and actors) is part of the joke. As Quentin Tarantino has said of his own Leonard adaptation Jackie Brown, the plot here is largely an excuse to hang out with the characters. Armitage may add an extra layer of swimsuit-catalogue glamour, but like Tarantino he catches Leonard’s casual, syncopated tone, mixing affection for these low-life schemers with detached amusement at their sometimes deadly games.
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BIG BOUNCE, THE (M)
CAST: Owen Wilson, Butch Helemano, Charlie Sheen, Vinnie Jones, Gregory Sporleder, Terry Ahue, Pete Johnson, Mike Renfro, Tony Dorsett, Brian L. Keaulana, Morgan Freeman, Willie Nelson
PRODUCER: George Armitage, Steve Bing, Jorge Saralegui
DIRECTOR: George Armitage
SCRIPT: Sebastian Gutierrez (Elmore Leonard, Novel)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeffrey L. Kimball
EDITOR: Brian Berdan, Barry Malkin
MUSIC: George S. Clinton
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Altman
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 11, 2004
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