Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

Big Bounce, The (2004) *

Directed by George Armitage. Written by Sebastian Guttierez from a novel by Elmore Leonard. Cast: Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, Sara Foster, Vinnie Jones, Bebe Neuwirth, Willie Nelson, Harry Dean Stanton, Charlie Sheen. A Warner’s release. 90 minutes. PG-13

If you’re looking for incoherence, confusion, idiotic dialogue –and beautiful female bodies in micro-bikinis, this is for you.

But think first: seeing sexy girls is not enough to counterbalance the rest of the movie –and the rest consists mostly of dull performances.

The movie is a remake of the 1969 picture by the same title. It starred Ryan O'Neal, Leigh Taylor-Young, Van Heflin, Lee Grant. and other, lesser names. I have not seen it, but I know several films among the 30 or so that came from Elmore Leonard stories. These include “Hombre,””Valdez is Coming,””Joe Kidd,” “Mr.Majestyk,” “Stick,” “Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown.”

The first “Big Bounce” took place in Michigan. The new version has been moved to Oahu, Hawaii. It’s a splendid place, yet its beauty is not spelled out, save for irrelevant insertions of huge waves.

Our focal point is Jack Ryan (Wilson), a petty criminal from the mainland, a small-time grifter who does scams, breaking and entering, and such. He works in the building crew of magnate Ritchie (Sinise.) The latter has connections with the underworld, a Rolls Royce convertible to die for, an alcoholic wife, Alison (Neuwirth) in whose absence he moves his mistress Nancy to his fancy house. Nancy is played by model Sara Foster in her first movie part.

When Ritchie learns that Alison is coming back, he gets rid of Nancy – whom his subaltern Rogers hopes to inherit. (He is played by Charlie Sheen, visibly aging and overweight.)

Add to the cast of characters the ambiguous, undefinable Morgan Freeman who is a judge (of sorts), a top cop, the owner of beach bungalows, and much else. It is likely that he also deals with the underworld.

Back to Jack Ryan. At the movie’s start he conks his supervisor with a bat, and loses his job. Now, somehow, he and Nancy get together, have sex. She prods him to team up with her in order to steal about $200.000 of an illicit stash in Ritchie’s possession.

It’s all murky and uninteresting—except for bits that recall the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated, with Nancy as centerpiece. But her acting is vague and dull.

(There’s a rumor about a version of the movie, for export, in which bikinis are not used.)

Curiously, one of the several displays of Nancy shows her swimming underwater in a two-piece, all-covering white dress. Yes, a dress. Something tells be that this a reference to an older Surrealist film, but I can’t pin it down.

The picture’s murky “progress” is such that among wasted items the excellent, third-listed Gary Sinise appears for just a few minutes; the excellent second-listed Morgan Freeman gets more screen time but he is wasted; other roles are small, nebulous and unnecessary.

Director George Armitage has made five movies, one of which, “Miami Blues,” I remember as OK. But when I reviewed his “Grosse Pointe Blank,”( starring a wonderful John Cusack,) I gave it 3 1/2 stars.

The script of the dud “The Big Bounce” is by Sebastian Gutierrez (from Venezuela) whose previous effort was “Gothika” (2003), also a dud that, oddly, was directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, a French actor-director-etc whose works are rightly respected.

The title “The Big Bounce” may refer to Nancy’s excitement at the idea of ripping off Ritchie so that modest thievery bounces up to a major heist. Who knows? To crown this vain effort of a movie, there’s an inexplicably odd ending that takes us to a totally unexpected change. It is as though a couple of reels had been lost. The cutting is so bad that it becomes the film’s funniest thing.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel