Simply put, The Big Bounce is the most arrogant movie I have ever seen. Needless to say, it’s also one of the worst, but somehow that seems less of an insult. From the script to the story, the acting to the so-called “twist,” I have rarely been witness to such incompetence and sheer disregard for the audience. From all accounts, this is nothing more than a multi-million dollar tax write-off; a way for a bunch of high profile actors to spend a few weeks lounging in Hawaii while, between pig roasts and beer chugging, they shoot a movie in the most half-assed manner possible. And for one of the few times I can remember, I was genuinely offended. Someone, somewhere had to know this was a stinking piece of shit, but no one had the balls to call the filmmakers on the carpet. It’s the sort of movie that begins with an insult like “coconut nigger” and continues with an appearance by a Hawaiian woman who shouts, “Get a room! Get a condom!” and expects us to laugh. It’s also the sort of movie featuring the smarmiest asshole in America (Owen Wilson), a legendary actor throwing it all away (Morgan Freeman as Walter), a once admirable thespian turned money-grubbing prick (Gary Sinise as Ray), and a dimwitted hottie (Sara Foster as Nancy), whose performance just might surpass Cindy Crawford’s turn in Fair Game as the most ridiculous appearance by a supermodel [Ed Note: He said “might”]. But above all, this is a film without a story. Lacking any momentum, drive, or narrative thrust, it merely hangs back until it decides to drag its bloody corpse across the 80-minute mark, if only because that seems to be the arbitrary standard for feature-length motion pictures. At no point is it engaging, interesting, entertaining, coherent, or watchable. Sort of like a Sean Hannity monologue.
For 82 loooooonnnngggg minutes, Wilson (as some guy named Jack Ryan), has drinks with Walter, flirts with, fucks, and conspires with Nancy, fights some English dude, and gives Charlie Sheen a bloody nose. Along the way, there’s something about $200,000 hidden in Ray’s hunting lodge, and Jack’s desire to share it with Nancy. Because Freeman is hanging around, we know he will be in on it somehow, but when that moment comes, it’s so understated that I’m not sure he was involved at all. Nancy plays Jack against Walter, who plays Ray against Nancy, and who the fuck knows what else. Thrown in the mix is some of the most witless banter ever committed to paper, including this classic exchange:
Jack: “Two hundred grand’s a lot different than a TV set.”
Nancy: “Yeah, it’s a lot lighter.”
I’m not sure if that, or any other conversation was in the original Elmore Leonard novel, although I can assure you that I’ll never find out. Leonard’s novels have a unique way of stinking up the screen, and in the interest of unfairness I’ll assume it’s because of the source. As a result, all we get is hipper-than-thou, empty bullshit; the cinematic equivalent of a black hole.
Okay, there was one thing I liked, and that’s when Freeman said, “God’s an imaginary friend for grownups.” The line isn’t related to anything in particular, nor does it reveal any aspect of character, but it’s always nice to hear an utterance of truth — perhaps the truth — in an American movie. But that’s it. Even the lush surroundings of the Hawaiian Islands got boring after about ten minutes, largely because the fuckheads on screen insisted on talking and diverting my attention from the sights. And, also for no reason whatsoever, there are cameos from Willie Nelson and Harry Dean Stanton, I’m assuming because they owed the director some money. I guess I’ve covered everything, right? Owen Wilson is an ass-licking prick who is already climbing the charts of my year-end “Needs to Fucking Die List;” models cannot act, and become less attractive the more they insist that they have mastered human speech; George Armitage (the director) is a name to remember if you’re a celebrity stalker in need of a fresh victim; and yes, this is the worst film of 2004. I promise. Oh, and you’d think I would have learned my lesson with 50 First Dates. So, I repeat myself. Never rent a DVD from McDonald’s. At least not until next week.