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 The Big Bounce
 Critic's Rating
   [C-]
 Date Posted
   1st June, 2004
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Cast: Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Sara Foster
Director: George Armitage

Based on novelist Elmore Leonard crime fiction, "The Big Bounce" is literally one of the laziest screen adaptations in recent times. It features loud characters in even louder outfits; they are mostly small-time crooks, jilted lovers and wisecracking expatriates (yes, that's you Vinnie Jones). As these aspiring slackers pile on the heavy-footed comedy, the double-crosses and deceptions build up ever so slowly (keyword: slowly) to the film's wearied conclusion by when and here's an educated guess some of us may have given up our warm seats in favour of the more inviting exit sign.

Owen Wilson who is always good with his brand of laid-back humour is the perfect guy to play Jack, a harmless B&E (breaking and entering) expert savouring a self-imposed retirement from a life of petty thievery on the beaches of Hawaii. But Jack quickly wins the friendship of a local judge (Morgan Freeman) with a side interest in vacation real estate and the affections of Nancy (sexy newcomer Sara Foster) who is mistress to Ryan (Gary Sinise), a shady businessman whose illegal connections are not explained. Nancy seduces Jack into her plan of pinching more than a few thousand dollars Ryan's got locked up in his bungalow. In the grand tradition of crime stories she's not the only one after the cash.

"The Big Bounce" is directed and co-written by George Armitage who was responsible for one of my favourite comedies, the quirky "Grosse Pointe Blank." Despite his efforts to jazz up the sleepy atmosphere (Armitage uses a whimsical score and splices in, at several points during the film, scenes of surfers riding the waves), his and co-writer Sebastian Gutierrez's ("Gothika") nondescript screenplay undermines any potential to break out of a never-ending stupor. It doesn't help that the film's material which is visibly R-rated has been watered down to the more audience-friendly PG-13. Because of this a lot of punch and effect is lost. But at least the actors seem to be having a great time. They take their colourful vacation attire seriously and, not surprisingly, it shows - nonchalant demeanour supersedes the emotion and drama demanded of the characters. It is only during the seductive mind games Nancy plays with Jack that the film actually springs to life and we feel the intense physical attraction Sara Foster embodies. Like Jack we too want to give in to this beautiful temptress; suspend our logic, banish all reason. But the diversion is short-lived as the weight of the lifeless script drags the film to the bottom of the ocean.

"The Big Bounce" is not a terrible film. It is just exhaustively unnecessary and, well, boring. Invest your time elsewhere. - Adnan Khan

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