Big Trouble

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 Hour and 38 Minutes

Reviewer: Dale
Grade: B

You know what. I didn't really realize it until I found myself laughing at and loving "Big Trouble" but it's been ages since I've seen a good comedy that didn't involve at least one lame bodily fluid joke. (Hell, it's been a while since I've seen a good comedy. The last one I can remember was "Zoolander".) Most of them involve a couple of them. It's not that I don't enjoy a good penis joke, it's just that most of them in modern cinema aren't good and, besides, I have seen far too many of them recently.

That's what makes "Big Trouble" so damn refreshing. That and its zany sense of spunk. This is a high-spirited, go-for-broke comedy that just wants you to laugh, and laugh hard. And it succeeds admirably.

"Big Trouble" has a rather complex plot. Not that it's "Memento" or "Mission: Impossible" or anything like that. It's just that it has so many characters and story threads coursing through it that it's difficult to distill exactly what the film is doing into a paragraph or so. It revolves around several odd characters in Miami. There's Tim Allen, as a man who lost his car, his house and most of his self esteem in a messy divorce. He has also lost a primo position at the Miami Herald and has opened his own advertising agency. Tim's son (Ben Foster) is involved in a game at school where he must shoot Rene Russo's daughter (Zooey Deschanel) with a squirt gun. Rene Russo's husband (Stanley Tucci) is a greedy prick who is such a louse that two hit men (one of them is Dennis Farina) have been assigned to kill him. There's also a guy named Puggy (Jason Lee) who looks like Jesus and lives in a tree. There's a couple of idiots just released from prison and looking for a crime to commit (Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville), a nuclear bomb that looks like a garbage disposal, a hallucinogenic toad, a friendly dog, and a couple of police officers who get involved in it all (Patrick Warburton and Janeane Garofalo). But it all makes sense while you're watching it, and it's all pretty funny.

The plot moves so quickly and with such subtle little asides that the film just eases by. Before you know it, the end credits are rolling. And it has more laughs per minute than any film since "Zoolander". Then again, it's by Barry Sonenfeld, who is a master of comedy (he did the
"Addams Family" movies, which were hysterical, "Men in Black", "Get Shorty" and the underrated "Wild, Wild West") and based on a novel by Dave Barry, whose newspaper column almost always gets me to chuckle. The comedy is a little broad, but at least it's uniformly funny. The actors are all very good and the material is pretty zany and fun. The
characters played by Sizemore and Knoxville were a little irritating sometimes (sure, they're stupid, but do they have to be THIS stupid?) but even if you don't care for a couple of characters, it's not a big deal. There are so many of them that you won't have to put up with the ones you aren't so hot on for that long. It's not really a brilliant comedy. It's not going to reinvent the wheel or revolutionize anything. But at least it's funny, which is a lot more than most modern comedies have going for them. And it steers clear of the bodily function humor,
which I have to admire. And it has a great, varied cast.

Bottom line: I wanted laughs. I got them with "Big Trouble". I didn't get them at "Death to Smoochy".