The Big Bounce
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir George Armitage
scr Sebastian Gutierrez
with Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Sara Foster, Charlie Sheen, Gary Sinise, Bebe Neuwirth, Vinnie Jones, Gregory Sporleder, Andrew Wilson, Anahit Minasyan, Willie Nelson, Harry Dean Stanton
release US 30.Jan.04, UK 30.Apr.04
04/US 1h28

Everyone's plotting something: Sheen, Freeman and Wilson

wilson freeman sheen
sinise neuwirth jones
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the big bounce Movies from Elmore Leonard novels are generally good fun (Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Jackie Brown), and with the director of Grosse Pointe Blank, this looks promising. The only worry: It's by the guy who wrote Gothika. And indeed the film never comes together into anything remotely interesting.

Jack Ryan (Wilson) is a free spirit in Hawaii, just fired from his North Shore construction job for hitting his boss (Jones) with a baseball bat. Now he's back to a life of petty theft, even though his new best friend is the local judge (Freeman). Then he meets the sexy young Nancy (Foster), mistress of the local developer Ray (Sinise), who happens to be Jack's nemesis. So Jack sets in motion an elaborate sting against Ray and his right-hand goon Bob (Sheen). But it looks like everyone else is plotting something as well.

There's an effortless and breezy tone that shows us what a great Hawaiian holiday the cast and crew had while making this film! And while the feeling transfers to the screen, it's simply not focussed through the story, which meanders all over the place. Lively dialog, sunny performances and oddball casting make the film watchable, but it's so loose that we never have anything to grab hold of. For a caper comedy in which everyone is playing everyone else for whatever they can get, we should definitely enjoy it far more than this! Not only is the romantic plotline weak and underdeveloped, but there's no climax to the twisty con-artist story. And it's obviously been toned way down to avoid an R rating, which leaves it toothless and unsexy, despite all the swimsuit scenes. Model and MTV babe Foster makes a strong film debut here, but most of the actors are so laid back that they barely register--this isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it adds to the island vibe, but it keeps the film from ever springing to life with energy or wit. Turn off your brain and you might enjoy it. Otherwise, you've just been conned out of your ticket money.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 9.Mar.04

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2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall