The Big Bounce (2004)

"Unbearable"

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The Big Bounce (2004) Review


Near the end of The Big Bounce, Owen Wilson's character tells the woman who has just conned him, "I have to be sober to tell this story." In my opinion, only a drunk would be able explain (or BS) his way through this mess of a movie, a remake of an equally bad film of the same name from 1969. Both films are based on the novel from acclaimed author Elmore Leonard, and though Leonard may be able to pen a worth-reading novel, it's plain to see that transposing his words into a worth-viewing film is often an impossible task.

In this Bounce, Wilson plays vagabond Jack Ryan, a man who's bad luck and bad choices have landed him on the North Shore of Oahu where he takes a job in construction working for shady hotel developer Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise) and his assistant Bob Jr. (Charlie Sheen). It's not long before Jack gets fired and finds new employment as a handyman at a complex of vacation bungalows owned by Judge Walter Crewes (Morgan Freeman). While working for Crewes, Jack becomes enamored with Nancy Hayes (Sara Foster, the poor man's Bridget Fonda), Ritchie's sexpot girlfriend and house-sitter while he escorts his wife (Bebe Neuwirth) on shopping trips in Honolulu. Nancy has a plan to milk Ritchie out of $200,000, and she needs Jack's help to pull it off.

More than Jack's "help" will be needed to pull both the con and this film together - how about a screenplay rewrite for starters! Bounce never gets off the ground, and never goes anywhere. We keep waiting for the story to get moving, but it never does! It slowly meanders from the beach, to the bungalows then onto Ritchie's ranch with no real destination or purpose. Director George Armitage (Grosse Pointe Blank) forgoes all character development and motivation, and instead focuses on Jack and Nancy as they throw countless sexual innuendos at each other. After enduring the verbal foreplay, we never see the culmination that apparently happens off-screen. Bounce not only toys with its audience in terms of their relationship, but also with these ridiculously convoluted he conned/she conned storylines - neither of which can sustain any amount of interest or suspense.

Even the indelible cast cannot save this film. The film version of Leonard's Get Shorty proved to be just as problematic despite starring John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, and Danny DeVito. This Bounce is no different. The stars have changed, but this group is unable to transform this jumbled mess into something mildly amusing. In fact, the nauseating thought it left me to ponder was why such a proven assemblage of talent would be willing to make something that was destined to fail from the beginning.

Who knows, maybe they got big paychecks for their appearances. Now you tell me, who's conning who?

On DVD you get the usual making-of business plus, oddly, a pair of surfing-oriented vignettes.

Pretty bouncy.


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