Making the Grades
ONLY NOAH ON THE ARK had more twosomes to worry about than Dave Barry does in the film adaptation of his first novel, Big Trouble. Basing the story on snippets of news articles garnered from The Miami Herald -- where he works -- this Pulitzer Prize winning columnist introduces a cast of over fourteen major characters whose lives randomly intersect on the streets of the Florida hotspot.
Muddled? To say the least!
Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) is a divorced dad with a bad work ethic that cost him his job and his son's respect. Formerly a newspaper columnist, he now runs a second rate ad agency. He meets up with the pampered but unhappy Anna Heck (Rene Russo) and her daughter Jenny (Zooey Deschanel) when his son Matt (Ben Foster) is caught carrying a water pistol in their backyard. Meanwhile, a real rifle-toting hitman (Dennis Farina) and his partner are hiding in the bushes aiming to knock off Arthur (Stanley Tucci) -- Anna's husband -- who's been stealing money from the company coffers. Officers Monica Romero (Janeane Garofalo) and Walter Kramitz (Patrick Warburton) are called in to investigate the uproar at the Heck household but are soon upstaged by two FBI agents (Omar Epps, Dwight "Heavy D" Myers) on the trail of a mysterious metal suitcase containing a dangerous weapon.
Added to this cast is a pair of dim-witted street thugs, two Russian arms dealers, a couple of longhaired sweethearts, the family mutt, and a venom-spitting psychedelic toad. All told, that leaves very little time in the film's 85-minute length to do more than show clips of each of his characters as they cross paths.
While Barry parades his off-beat writing style and slightly skewed viewpoint that entertains his newspaper fans, this film takes on a darker and edgier tone than many of his printed columns. Crude jokes, sexual teasers, constant profanities, and brief rear nudity also put this movie in a huge quandary when it comes to family entertainment.
Too many characters, too many content issues, and too little storyline leave this comedy in Big Trouble.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Big Trouble.
Ben and his friend Andrew are involved in a night game called “Killer,” that involves shooting a designated person with a squirt gun. How safe do you think this game is considering the number of real guns that may be out on the streets? Do you think games like Killer are harmless fun or potentially dangerous?
Eliot and his son Ben have a very different relationship than Anna and her daughter Jenny. What do you think contributed to that difference? Do you think the social and economical standing of the parents are to blame? How can teens and parents maintain positive relationships even when a divorce is involved?