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The Big Bounce (PG-13) (2004)

Warner Bros.

Official Site

Director: George Armitage

Producers: Steve Bing, Jorge Saralegui

Written by: Sebastien Gutierrez; from the novel by Elmore Leonard

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Owen Wilson, Sara Foster, Willie Nelson, Bebe Neuwirth, Vinnie Jones, Gary Sinise

Rating: out of 5

Owen Wilson plays Jack Ryan (!), a small-time criminal working construction while he waits for a better offer. Trouble is, no one’s getting any hours because of the native Hawaiians protesting the siting of Ray Ritchie’s (Sinise) resort development over sacred ground. When the loutish foreman (played by real-life soccer lout Vinnie Jones) gets threatening, Jack lays him out with a baseball bat, earning himself a bit of jail time. Fortunately, his case comes up before exceptionally understanding Judge Walter Crewes (Freeman), who not only releases Jack but offers him a job at his resort and buys him a beer in the bargain. At the bar, hip-undulating Nancy Hayes (Foster) passes in front of Jack, wiping his mind of all other concerns.

What follows is a twisty, none-too-logical yet semi-transparent scam story involving fisticuffs, double-crosses, multiple adulteries, B&E and just plain E. The movie has some fine music, including scoring by the great George Clinton, and the Isley Brothers’ “It’s Yo’ Thing,” used to such great effect in another Elmore Leonard movie, Out Of Sight. See also beautiful Hawaii landscapes, tawny, tanned people, and surfing footage for nearly every scene transition. Reading this back, I can see that these ingredients don’t really add up to a movie, and yet… Owen Wilson was way amusing.

That’s about all there is to The Big Bounce, the cinematic equivalent of those books one reads at the beach. It’s a two-hour excuse to let Owen Wilson be cute and crinkly-eyed and sexy. Indeed, Wilson’s role seems to have been tailor-written for his particular brand of flakiness. Or, alternatively, it’s a two-hour excuse to observe the sharply flared landscape between Foster’s waist and her child-bearing hips. Her acting needs a bit of work, but who can be bothered when her astonishing hourglass form is barely clothed in any of her scenes?

Clearly, the marketers think their audience here is the high-concept crowd. Before the movie we were shown a trailer for Starsky And Hutch. Not surprisingly, The Big Bounce has style and easy charm going for it. Armitage was the director of Grosse Pointe Blank. But with Freeman and Co. all clearly having so much fun and getting a paycheck too? Sure, I’ll go along for the ride, despite obvious questions like, “Why does the judge befriend Jack?” and “What’s with No. 9?”

I have massively lost respect for myself for being so easy, but then the whole movie is summed up in a scene when Nancy skivs out of her panties and Jack says “Do you think I’m that easy?” and she says, “Well yeah.” Hell yeah.

—Roxanne Bogucka


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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