Big Trouble (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Dave Barry, the award-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald, can arguably be allowed to wear "the funniest man in print" cape, because he's the current super-hero of written humor. He is the legitimate inheritor of that mantle, with a uniquely American kind of satire and wordplay that fuses the styles of S.J. Perelman, Groucho, Max Schulman, and Woody Allen. I can't think of any man who has made me laugh more in my life.

Big Trouble, a Tim Allen film, is based on a novel by Barry. I haven't read that novel, but if this film is any indicator, Barry should not consider quitting his day job at the Herald. I just can't imagine Mr. Barry being happy with this overplayed mess. I think director Barry Sonnenfeld was going for "zany" here, but the effort really came off as "lame-brained".


Patrick Warburton bares his butt in a fairly length sequence, as he runs through the Miami airport.

Don't get me wrong. It's not a complete waste of time. Barry is a genius, and there are lots of good ideas.

But there are also totally unfunny ideas which are given an amount of screen time which seems longer than a Tarkovsky movie played in slow motion. There are big, broad caricatures of big, stupid characters shown in alarming facial close-ups. I think the theory here is that a facial close-up of an ugly fat guy making funny faces while screaming at the protagonist is the very zenith of hilarity. This is a theory to which I will not subscribe unless it comes with the Swimsuit Issue and a football phone.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by director Barry Sonnenfeld  

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

When the obese guy is not mugging for the camera, Stanley Tucci is filling in with his own brand of mayhem, which can be described as approximately on the same level of chaos and humor as Jerry Lewis acting out the Battle of Stalingrad. Actually, it was only equal to that situation in the sum of chaos and humor. Looking at the individual parts, Tucci was more chaotic, Stalingrad funnier.

One strong positive, however. You have to love any film in which Martha Stewart plays the part of a dog. (The creature has a dog's body and Martha's head)

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two stars. Ebert 2.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4, 1/5


The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: a monumental flop, it grossed only $7 million despite a 2000 screen roll-out. At a cost of $45 million, it lost a lot of sponduliks.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C-. Zany, wacky, slapstick that is short on zanes and wacks, and with a stick not at all slapped, but only lightly patted.

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