This right here is how sometimes, real life can actually kill a movie. See, I remember seeing the previews and trailers for this movie back in 2001 and thinking that it looked pretty funny. I had actually been given the book for a birthday present earlier that year so I was eager to see what the differences might be between the two. Then, September 11th happened, and there was absolutely nothing funny about that event whatsoever. Now Big Trouble was supposed to come out on September 21st, but due to what had happened, the studio wisely felt that a movie featuring a scene with a nuclear bomb on a plane would not exactly sit well with most audiences. I admit that the selfish part of me wasn’t happy about having to wait for this movie to come out but I understood the reasoning for the delay and thought it was the right move to make. However, when they finally did decide to release it, they gave it almost know marketing or push whatsoever. I honestly didn’t know it had even been in theaters. I saw it in Blockbuster one day and thought that they had just decided to release it to video instead. Oh well. I still rented it, watched it, and ended up buying it so it didn’t make too much difference to me, just makes me feel bad for the people that worked on it.
The plot: Eliot Arnold was a columnist for the Miami Herald but was fired after putting his foot through the editor’s computer monitor after a disagreement about a story. Earlier that day, he had found out his wife had been having an affair and after the divorce was final, he bought a Geo, which makes his son Matt ashamed of him, and started an ad agency. One year later, Eliot is meeting with a client, Bruce, who is upset about the ad Eliot had designed to promote Bruce’s beer. As Bruce is leaving, he gets a call from his son Matt, who asks if he can borrow the Geo as he and his Andrew have to kill someone after school Figuring it is a joke, Eliot agrees to loan him his car. Meanwhile, a suitcase nuclear bomb arrives at the Miami airport and is smuggled onto a van. At the same time, two hitmen, Henry and Leonard, arrive in Miami and head out for their assignment while a homeless man named Puggy arrived in Miami, as he had read that Miami had great Cuban food and, having a love for Fritos and thinking they are close to Cuban food, had gone there to see for himself. Puggy heads to a dive bar run by two Russians and orders a beer and a bag of Fritos. As he is eating his Fritos, two former convicts, Snake and Eddie, enter the bar and the bartender threatens to kick them out, as they have caused problems before, but Eddie says they have some money and want to buy a drink. The two sit down necxt to Puggy and, while he is distracted watching TV, Snake steals his change. When Puggy notices his money is missing and asks them to give it back, Snake punches him and starts beating him while he is down. The bartender hits Snake with a bat and when he goes after Eddie, Snake moves to hit him with a bottle but Puggy trips him up. The bartender kicks Snake and Eddie out, with Snake vowing revenge on Puggy, but the owner tells Puggy he can stay and offers him free beer. When the van from the airport arrives, the bar owner pays Puggy to unload the suitcase and, seeing how strong he is, tells him to come back tomorrow for more work. That night, Puggy finds a nice tree to sleep in that happens to be on the property of Arthur Herk.As Puggy is in his tree, he sees Matt and Andrew arrive, as they are there for Matt to kill Arthur’s daughter Jenny, their classmate, as part of a game at school called “Killer”. Jenny is with her mom Anna watching TV while Arthur is busy trying to seduce their maid Nina, who hits him with a crucifix and hides in the bathroom. As Matt and Andrew get into position, Henry and Leonard show up, as they are there to kill Arthur for embezzling money from his company. When Anna opens the back door to let their dog in, Matt rushes into the house to squirt Jenny with a squirt gun, only for Anna to jump on his back, causing him to fall onto Jenny. During the confusion, Henry shoots at Arthur but misses and hits the TV, and Arthur runs towards Nina’s room, who gets scared when she sees him and rushes outside. Running through the backyard, she trips under the tree Puggy is in and Leonard trips over her as he tries to leave. When Henry shows up, Puggy jumps down on him and grabs his gun to keep him from hurting Nina, but then gives it back when they hear police sirens approaching and Henry and Leonard quickly leave. Officers Monica Romero and Walter Kramitz arrive and question Matt, Anna, Jenny, and Arthur about what happened when Eliot arrives, as Andrew had called and told him what happened. While everyone is talking, Walter finds the bullet in the TV and they ask who fired the gun, but they all had no idea. Romero and Walter leave, ignoring Arthur’s desire to press charges against Matt, and Anna and Jenny escort Eliot and Matt out of the house, with Anna and Eliot both becoming attracted to each other. The next day, Anna pays a visit to Eliot and they talk briefly before they start making out. Later, they are talking about their relationship with their kids, as Eliot wishes that he had a better one with Matt like Anna had with Jenny. Meanwhile, Henry and Leonard are meeting with the man that set up their hit on Arthur, asking him about who the other people were at the house. After a brief encounter with Bruce, where Henry breaks Bruce’s fingers for refusing to put out his cigar, Henry tells the client that it will cost another $10 grand a piece to do the job. Elsewhere, Arthur confronts his boss about the hit, as he knows that they had arranged it, and threatens to spill the beans on their operation to the Feds if they don’t back off. Meanwhile, Matt and Andrew are approached by Jenny, who asks if he was given credit for the kill, and when he says no, she arranges to meet him that night so he can squirt her. They meet up that night at a strip mall and Matt goes to shoot her but a drunken security guard, mistaking Matt’s squirt gun for a real one, fires at them. Matt and Jenny run off and Andrew manages to grab the gun when the security guard trips and drops it, then he runs off. Romero and Walter are on patrol when they see Andrew with the gun and stop him, then arrest the drunken security guard. As they question Andrew, he tells them what happened and they decide to head to the Herk’s house to speak with Matt and Jenny. Meanwhile, Arthur heads to the bar, intending to buy a missile to deal with his bosses, but is shown the bomb and agrees to buy it instead. As he is leaving, Snake and Eddie show up to rob the place only to find that the bar has no money, as it is really a front for arms smuggling. They then decide to rob Arthur and head back to his place to see what else he has to steal. At the Herk’s home, Eliot arrives after Anna calls him and after chastising Matt for the game, he calls the police to report what happened. Snake and Eddie show up with Arthur and Puggy, who is carrying the suitcase, and they proceed to tie up Anna, Matt, and Jenny with the phone cord. Eliot attempts to bluff Snake with the squirt gun and get them to leave but Snake notices the water dripping from the barrel and calls Eliot’s bluff, then ties him up as well as Walter and Romero when they arrive. After everyone is restrained, Snake and Eddie leave, taking Jenny as a hostage and Puggy, who is still carrying the suitcase. Back at the bar, FBI special agents Greer and Seitz show up looking for the suitcase and after shooting the owner in the foot, he tells them that Arthur has it. Back at the Herk house, Nina cuts Eliot, Anna, Matt, and Walter free and they head off to rescue Jenny, leaving Romero behind as she is handcuffed to a brass shelve with Arthur. Romero and Arthur drag the shelf to the back door and break through the glass to call for help, just as Henry, who had been watching the whole situation unfold with Leonard, fires at Arthur. Arthur lands in his dog’s food bowl, where a hallucinogenic toad had been living for the past month, and he ends up getting squirted by the toad. Greer and Seitz arrive and question Arthur, who is unable to answer as he is hallucinating that his dog is Martha Stewart and is after his soul. Romero tells them about Snake and the suitcase but refuses to tell them anything else until they free her. Snake and Eddie arrive at the airport and buy some tickets for the Bahamas but as they try to bluff their way through security, they accidentally activate the bomb, with the timer set for 45 minutes. Eliot, Anna, Matt, Nina, and Walter arrive at the airport and split up to try and find Jenny, with Walter going to alert airport security but when he insults the head of security, who is the twin brother of the drunken security guard, he ends up being given a strip search. At the Fly by Air gate, the go to board the plane but Puggy manages to slip away, where he manages to run into Matt and Nina. Matt finds his dad and Anna and he tells them about Jenny being on the plane and they tell him to find the cops while they go to try and get Jenny. When they arrive at the gate, Snake, who is trying to get the plane to take off, fires at them and Eliot tells Anna to go get help, then he runs off and manages to get on the plane. Romero, Greer, and Sietz arrive at the airport, just as Henry and Leonard arrive, and Romero pulls the bolt from Henry’s rifle, which Leonard had dropped, and follows the agents inside. When they see the plane taking off, the question Anna and the others about the bomb and Puggy tells them that it had been turned on, forcing Greer to make the call to have the plane shot down over the ocean. On the plane, Snake tells Eddie to close the rear door of the plane but Eliot knocks him out, then attacks Snake with the fire extinguisher. With Snake distracted, the pilots radio the tower and Greer is patched in and tells them to get the suitcase off the plane. The pilot tells Eliot and he shoves it out the door but Snake grabs it and then grabs onto the stairs to keep from falling. When he refuses to let go, Eliot pulls the lever to disengage the stairs, sending Snake and the bomb falling into the ocean, where the bomb explodes harmlessly, while the Air Force breaks away from attacking the plane. When the plane lands, Jenny hugs her mom and tells her about what Eliot did and Matt hugs his dad, having finally grown to respect him after almost losing him. Greer and Sietz tell Eliot that the President offers him his thanks, though nobody can ever know what happened. Romero sees Walter running naked through the airport and it is learned later that Walter would quit the force and become an exotic dancer. Henry and Leonard consider the Herk job the lowest point of their career and are stuck on a plane with a bunch of Florida Gator fans, as the runway is obstructed by a bunch of goats. Anna and Eliot get married a week after Anna’s divorce goes through, while Matt and Jenny, and Nina and Puggy start their own romances. Meanwhile, Arthur, still suffering from the hallucinogen, has been dragging the shelf down the street begging someone to help him save his soul from Martha Stewart.
Big Trouble met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With its large cast and frantic comic pacing, Big Trouble labors for slapstick-style hilarity, but it never really gains steam.” The interior shots at the Miami Herald office building were actually shot at the Miami Herald. The crew ran over a few hours but were allowed to stay and finish due to Dave Berry, who had written the book the movie was based on and was a columnist for the Herald at the time. The movie was a box office bomb, earning $8.5 million off of a $40 million budget.
This movie is one of those nonsensical comedies where a lot of things are happening all at once, but connect to form a pretty funny movie. The acting was good, but I personally liked a lot of the secondary characters over the main ones, with Jason Lee (Puggy), Dennis Farina (Henry), and Patrick Warburton (Walter) being my favorites. The story was a bit convoluted, which admittedly can make it hard for people to follow, but actually stayed fairly close to the book. Honestly, I thought that all of the different story arcs that were going on but managed to intersect and stay connected helped keep the movie more light hearted, so you aren’t just focusing on one thing. The comedy generally relied on some situational comedy, with a bit of slapstick antics at times but it actually worked out well for the most part. I know it’s not going to be for everyone but I think this is a pretty funny movie that is worth giving a chance.
Rating: 4 out of 5