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RED Reviews

Man Destroyed by This Issue of RED

'The Big Bounce' Has Little Buoyancy
  by Jeremy Mathews

“The Big Bounce”
Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by George Armitage
Screenplay by Sebastian Gutierrez, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
Starring Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, Sara Foster, Willie Nelson, Vinnie Jones, Bebe Neuwirth and Charlie Sheen
Rated PG-13

(out of four)

“The Big Bounce” has the misfortune of being a child behind a row of giants. Film adaptations of Elmore Leonard’s novels like “Jackie Brown,” “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight” have made it look like putting Leonard’s blend of crime, romance, comedy and clever dialogue on screen is as easy as making a bad Carrot Top film. “The Big Bounce,” however, proves the contrary, lacking the charm and energy that the previous films had, despite a solid cast.

Owen Wilson, that king of lethargic comedy, plays a small-time criminal loser named Jack who makes his way to Hawaii, which, we’re told, is the end of the line for shady drifters. (“They never make it to Tokyo.”)

After whacking his supervisor on the head with a baseball bat, Jack goes to jail briefly but his company doesn’t press charges. They do, however, tell him to get out of town. The shady owner Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise), and his lackey Bob Jr., for some reason want him to get out of Hawaii, I guess because he’s bothering them.

Instead, he decides to annoy them and start seeing Ray’s mistress, Nancy (Sara Foster).

He gets a job from Judge Walter Crewes, who would have tried his case and enjoyed the video of the baseball hit so much that he makes friends with Jack. The judge runs a low-class resort of bungalows that Ray is trying to bulldoze along with other local landmarks to build his own moneymaker.

Morgan Freeman as the judge has the best Leonardian dialogue. But while other films adapting Leonard let the great words gracefully float away, this one repeats annoyingly repeats the best lines a few times to make sure we notice them. “Sometimes things are exactly as they seem,” for example, makes a good enough impression the first time that we don’t need to hear it again in voice over.

As for Wilson, he has the ability to make me smile simply by being on screen, but his persona isn’t perfectly suited to the role. Making things worse, Sara Foster doesn’t do anything but look pretty the whole movie. Nancy is trying to seduce Jack into helping her steal money from Ray, but her means aren’t seductive or convincing.

The whole film is very mechanical, and the humor doesn’t come across because most of the time it doesn’t feel like the characters care about being embarrassed, getting caught or helping or hurting one another.

While Wilson and Freeman have their moments, Charlie Sheen and Sinise are completely wasted for both dramatic and comedic potential.

The quirky crime element is little more than unnecessarily convoluted plot twists, and with all the well-done twists and jokes from previous films in mind, this one is utterly dispensable.

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