Misadventure comedies are often a hit or miss proposition. The success of the film often depends on the mix of the cast, the premise, and the director’s ability to make the absurd interesting and funny. For every “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun” that hits big there are the “Brain Donors” and “Clue” films that bomb. Thankfully “Big Trouble,” directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, does not fall into the bomb category as a film despite the plot centering on a bomb.
“Big Trouble” was delayed from its planned opening on September 15th by the terrorist attacks on America. Despite being a comedy, the filmmakers wisely thought that scenes of lax and inane security personnel at a major airport combined with other plot twists would not be appropriate in light of the recent tragedy. The fill sat in the studio vaults until the nation had time to heal and was ready to accept this comedy of misadventure. The film is based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Dave Barry, and centers on a group of people who are brought together by odd situations that are as funny as they are improbable. Leading the way is Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen), an award winning journalist and recent divorcee who finds himself now running an advertising company and trying to communicate with his son Matt (Ben Foster). While playing a school game that involves using a squirt gun to soak a fellow class mate for points, Matt and his friend accidentally foil and contract murder attempt on the step father of his intended target. It seems the stepfather, Arthur Herk(Stanley Tucci), has been stealing money from his employer that is when he is not ignoring his wife Anna (Rene Russo) and her daughter Jenny (Zoey Deschanel), and hitting on their maid. The attempted soaking of Jenny by Matt foils the shot of hired gun Henry Algott (Dennis Farina), and his assistant and draws the attention of two local police officers (Janeane Garofolo and Patrick Warburton) and sets the comedy in motion. It seems as if a large trunk containing a nuclear bomb has entered the city of Miami and ends up in the possession of two very dim-witted crooks (Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville), who are clueless as to what they really have, and the mayhem is on as they all attempt to complete their tasks be it an assassination, soaking of Jenny, gaining the sons respect, leaving the lousy husband, or in the case of the Puggy (Jason Lee), find his next bag of Fritos.
The emphasis is not on plot or character development but rather on situations and outcomes. Even the bad guys in the film gain plenty of laughs as it is hard to dislike the characters as they are honest about who and what they are and make no excuses for that. I loved the speech Dennis Farina gives about manners in a crowded restaurant while planning his next assassination. It is quirks like this that make the characters fun and entertaining and everyone in the cast has a solid performance. Tim Allen is great in his role but never hogs the scenes from his fellow cast, as there are plenty of laughs and good lines for everyone in this comedy.
I chose not to go to much into the film as many of the laughs and situations are best left discovered and deeper explanation of the characters and their situations would in my opinion spoil what is to come for many viewers. Instead let me leave you with this, “Big Trouble” is a light-hearted and enjoyable film that will have you exiting the theater with a smile.