If I were compiling a list of movies that failed to live up to expectations, The Big Bounce would be on it. Maybe not at the top, but close. Here's a flick with such dependable actors as Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, Bebe Neuwirth and Charlie Sheen -- all of whom seem to be held back by a draggy script, even though it's adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel about a scam gone wrong in beautiful Hawaii.
Never before have I fought dozing off during a film version of Leonard's stories, but that's what happened several times while watching The Big Bounce. Disappointing, to say the least. And it brought back memories of how my eyes were glued to the screen during Get Shorty and Out of Sight. I didn't even want to blink then, afraid of missing something exciting or entertaining.
The only things entertaining about this movie are a couple of surfing scenes and a circular spinning bed with an awesome view of the gorgeous Hawaiian sunset. Dull characters trapped in a confusing plot sabotaged any chance The Big Bounce had to win my praise. It hurts me to write such negative comments about any film starring either Owen Wilson (Shanghai Knights) or Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty). They're two of my favorite actors. Wilson's twangy voice and laid-back approach to acting worked so well in his movies with Jackie Chan, and Freeman's elegant presence usually makes a film much better because he's in it.
However, Wilson's portrayal of a grungy-looking surfer/conman trying (not very hard) to stay out of trouble comes across more listless than laid-back, and Freeman's interpretation of the enigmatic judge who befriends him ranks as one of his least challenging performances. Sure, his deep and articulate voice mesmerizes, as always, but there's no depth to the character he plays.
I suspect the cameraman became obsessed with leading lady Sara Foster. The pencil-thin former model is certainly shown over and over again in all her physical glory. She plays Wilson's love interest, a conniving woman who involves him in a plan to steal $200,000 from her paramour (Gary Sinise), Wilson's former boss and all-round bad guy. Bebe Neuwirth (How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days), appearing as the Sinise's boozy wife, receives very little camera time, and that bothers me. She can act rings around Foster.
Most crime caper movies offer a suspenseful build-up to the robbery itself and keep viewers guessing about who will double-cross whom. In this case, the scam is not clearly defined and when it occurs, there's confusion about what actually happened. Mercifully, by that time, I really didn't care.
Book 'em, Dano!
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "PG-13" for sexual content and nudity, violence and language.)