The Big Bounce


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The Big Bounce
The Masked Reviewer

Elmore Leonard is a popular writer.  His snappy, edgy dialogue and his rich (in texture, not financially rich) seedy underworld characters have been popular for decades. Films have been made from several of his books, including Out of Sight, Jackie Brown, and Get Shorty.  Did you also know he wrote the novel that later became the 1985 Burt Reynolds film Stick?  Well, he did.  He also wrote The Big Bounce.

What you may not know is that The Big Bounce has already been released as a feature film (now on DVD), starring Ryan O'Neal.  It was released in 1969.  This movie is a remake.  Who knew?  The Masked Reviewer did. 

Owen Wilson stars.  For some of you, that'll be enough.  The fact that Morgan Freeman, Charlie Sheen, Gary Sinise, and a few surprise guests also star won't matter.  For some of you, Sara Foster, in her first role, will be enough to get you to see this film, if you find her to be incredibly hot.  But for most of you, it'll be Owen Wilson with his laid back, easy-going, carefree, "hey, how-ya-doin'?" style that will entice you to the theater.

Owen Wilson has turned in a number of memorable performances, including Bottle Rocket, Armageddon Rushmore, Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights, Meet the Parents, The Royal Tenenbaums,  and Behind Enemy LinesHe was also in Zoolander, Anaconda, and I Spy, but even in those films, you can't help but like him.  His brother, Luke, was in Old School and Legally Blonde, but let's face it: Luke is no Owen.  Besides, Owen Wilson is going to be in Starsky and Hutch, coming to a theater near you soon!

Do you even have to see The Big Bounce to know it'll be great?  Owen Wilson is in it!  Sadly, yes, you do...or rather, no you don't.  Have to see it, that is.

It's a strange film.  The acting talent in it is fine.  Owen Wilson is very Owen-Wilsony.  He's funny and fun to watch every moment he's on screen.  Morgan Freeman is solid.  So is Charlie Sheen.  Even newcomer Sara Foster is easy on the eyes.  The acting isn't the problem.

The dialogue and plot are fine too.  It's based on an Elmore Leonard book.  It's probably a good book.  The first film version of it was probably fine.  There are good lines, the story is engaging and easy enough to follow.

Something, however, is missing.  The movie is not...good.  It's not awful, especially if -- like the Masked Reviewer -- you like Owen Wilson.  The Masked Reviewer will point out that he does have a certain hetero attraction to Owen Wilson, and there's nothing wrong with that.  He's just palpably pleasant. 

The director, George Armitage, also helmed Grosse Point Blank, which was well directed.  It's hard to put a finger on what exactly is wrong with The Big Bounce.  It might be that the screenwriter left something out of the book, or put something else in.  Perhaps the flaw stems from Owen Wilson's likeability; he's so laid back and easy going that you have the feeling that whatever happens to him in the film will be okay.  Fire him?  Okay.  Beat him up?  Sure, why not?  Shoot at him?  He'll get by.  Maybe that's it.

Perhaps the problem is Sara Foster, who (while nice to look at) isn't exactly bursting with screen charisma.  She plays a character who has a siren-like grip on the men she meets, and while she's cute, she doesn't seem to demand the kind of attention that her character requires for the story to work. 

Not only that, but she never gets naked.  Oh sure, you get to see a glimpse of her butt from a side angle for a brief moment at the start of the film, but from then on it's a lot of teasing.  She's constantly almost naked.  Showering.  Skinny dipping.  Getting in bed.  Getting out of bed.  Putting on a shirt.  But you never see anything.  Close, but no cigar.  For those of you who love to smoke, this will be a bitter disappointment.

Why have a no-name cute actress in a movie like this if she's not going to be naked?  Maybe that was the problem.

The cinematography is also a let down.  Shot in Hawaii, the film features a number of stunning locations, but the film quality is less than impressive.  Some shots were out of focus, others were blandly composed.  The fact that the Masked Reviewer was looking at the color saturation on screen tells you that the rest of the movie was not as compelling as it should have been.

The Big Bounce is a film that you can certainly sit through.  It's not horrendous, solely because the actors in it are all charming in their own ways.  But something big is missing.  It isn't badly paced, and the movie starts off strong, but it doesn't feel like it goes anywhere.  Watching the film is sort of like seeing Owen Wilson at Starbuck's.  It's fun to watch him, he seems like a good guy and he's entertaining.  But he's not doing anything particularly interesting.  So if you love Owen Wilson, you might want to check out the film, otherwise, maybe it's worth a rental when it comes out on DVD.


Expectation from the Title: After Bernie wrote a check for his wife's triple-D implants, he was shocked to discover the check didn't clear.  He was even more shocked when he saw her jogging after the operation.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  How can you not like Owen Wilson?

The Pros: Owen Wilson is Owen Wilson.  He's the Owen Wilsoniest.  Other acting is fine, dialogue has some good moments.

The Cons: The movie doesn't grab the viewer at any point; it's hard to pin down what's wrong with it, but something is.  No nudity.

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