Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Big Trouble

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, crude humor and sex-related material.

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
2002
Rene Russo and Tim Allen in “Big Trouble”

Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville in “Big Trouble”
Starring: Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Tom Sizemore, Johnny Knoxville, Dennis Farina, Jack Kehler, Janeane Garofalo, Patrick Warburton, Ben Foster, Zooey Deschanel, Dwight “Heavy D” Myers, Omar Epps, Jason Lee, Sofía Vergara, Andy Richter, more » | Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld | Produced by: Tom Jacobson, Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld | Written by: Matthew Stone, Martha Stone, Robert Ramsey | Distributor: Touchstone Pictures

There are a few things that can come along to spoil a perfect moment: cigarette smoke wafting your direction as you are trying to eat… litter in the path of that otherwise enjoyable view… or a phone call right after you have gathered the family for a meal. It is those little annoyances that daily remind us that we live in a less than perfect world.

There are some funny moments in “Big Trouble.” Dave Berry, Miami Herald humor columnist, has tried to expand his horizons into a larger project (how novel—pun intended). The big problem is that I don’t think America will buy it. “Big Trouble” has been classified as one of Hollywood’s 9/11 tragedies: Berry’s story features a nuclear bomb in a suitcase, an incompetent airport screening process, and the take over of a plane at gun point. Disney’s Touchstone pictures can blame all they want on rotten timing, but there are many other ingredients that make this off-beat comedy lean more to the “off” side.

As I recently took my family on a trip to Florida, we received the full security treatment on the return trip home. As a husband and father, it was awkward to watch my wife and sons be padded down and have all of our luggage unpacked and searched. I’m thankful for all such efforts that help keep our country a bit more secure, but do I want to watch a lame comedy poke fun at it? Not really.

“Big Trouble” tells the story of two hit men, an embezzler, a single father, an unhappy wife, nomadic hippie, black marketers, a herd of goats, and a toad that spits hallucinogenic juice. Out of these ingredients we are going to try and bake a comedy (Martha Stewart’s help included).

Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Herald. Unfortunately, he oversteps his bounds and loses his job. Arthur Herk (Stanley Tucci), is a corporate executive that embezzles money to maintain his glamorous lifestyle. Anna Herk (Rene Russo) is the unhappy and pampered housewife who spends her waking hours trying to draw inspiration from Martha Stewart. A school prank bring all of these unlikely characters together in the plush home of the Herk’s.

What could possibly spoil all of this converging nonsense? Our story goes on to mix in foot fetish, marital infidelity, and adolescent lust. In one scene of male rear nudity, a man runs through the airport naked after a strip search. This incident later leads him into becoming a male stripper. Not only do those offensive ingredients spoil this flic, but it is way overloaded with too many characters to even squeeze in a laugh or two. I did like the Martha Stewart cameos, the goats and the radio talk show conversations, but, overall, “Big Trouble” is without a doubt a “Big Waste” of time. I strongly recommend that you skip this one and if you just must watch Tim Allen, stick to the “Home Improvement” reruns. This is one comedy that should have definitely stayed in the can.

Viewer Comments
I have mixed feelings about this movie. It has a great ending and an interesting premise but the language, mild violence, and the sexual references seem to overshadow this good film. I have read Dave Barry’s novel (I’ve been an admirer of his column and other works), which this film is based upon, and as far as content goes, the book is more profane than the movie (which was the number one thing I disliked about Barry’s book)… I advise my fellow Christians to be wary of this film. I lost track of how many times God’s name was taken in vain. From the amount of curse words, it barely toes the PG-13 rating. There are sexual references abound, including brief nudity. I don’t believe this film is necessarily anti-Christian but it certainly does not uphold Christian values. Although Anna (Rene Russo) is married to an abusive man, she has a brief fling with Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) outside of her marriage. Teenage boys make sexual references about their female friends.

Arthur, Anna’s husband, is the target of the mafia because he stole from his employer. I could go on and on about the total disrespect most everyone has for each other and disrespect is not a Christian trait. Would God want men to abuse their wives? Would God want those to be dishonest with those who employ them? Would God condone killing of those who have been dishonest? I wouldn’t think so. The only good that comes out of this movie is the fact that people need others to help them go on in life and that parental authority is to be highly respected. Eliot Arnold makes this clear when his son, Matt, gets into trouble not once, but twice while playing a seemingly harmless game of water gun tag (in the movie, the game is known as “killer”).

Policewoman Monica (Janeane Garofalo) wards off the advances of her partner Walter Kramitz (Patrick Warbuton) because he’s married. The maid who works for Arthur and Anna graciously gives food to the tree-inhabiting homeless man. The movie (and the book) is supposed to be a parody of today’s society, but sadly, some of it is a mirror of society’s reality. For those who read the book, the film pretty much stays true to it, with only minor details left out.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Shannon Hammell, age 20
Comments from young people
Negative—Big Trouble was so terrible and a big waste of time and money. Don’t go see it. I went to go see it at night and I wanted to leave because there was no plot… all this movie was about was people chasing this bomb. They never told you why or for what purpose. Really stupid. So I recommend not seeing this.
My Ratings: [Average / 1]
—Rebekah, age 15
Negative—“Big Trouble” was a big disappointment. There were too many typical teen sexual remarks. “is that a water gun in your pants or are you happy to see me” “don’t look at my a**” and “”stop looking at my boobs.” These comments were so forced in as they had no comical sense or meaning to the plot or even the scene. Also, I didn’t laugh in this movie. It just wasn’t funny.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—David Marti, age 17