Throughout his early career, Owen Wilson has managed to retain his rep as a infectious, funnyman from film to film. That's why it's a shame that his new offering, The Big Bounce may just bounce him out of respectability.
Wilson has carved a niche playing goofy but affable quasi-stoner dudes with big hearts, who are trying to do right but bumble into misadventure. Don't get me wrong, he's a talented and versatile actor with an amazing sense of timing--possibly even underestimated in talent. Having said that, all his timing, deadpan wit and versatility cannot save this film. It's a disaster.
The Big Bounce was created after the film success of two other Elmore Leonard novels, "Get Shorty", and "Out Of Sight." These two Leonard books survived the transformation to film with their skin intact; enjoying plot, depth and direction--none of which is found here.
The plot, what there is of it, centers around Jack Ryan (Wilson) a small time crook who has come to Hawaii to get himself straightened out. Unfortunately his construction gig goes awry and he is quickly in a whole bunch of trouble with his foreman (Charlie Sheen with a goofy mustache) and his boss, real estate tycoon, Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise). He appears to be saved when local judge, Walter Crewes gives him a handyman job to keep him out of mischief. However, Walter (Morgan Freeman) has more than a passing interest in Jack's previous crimes and dubious nature. Things get spicy when Ray's mistress, Nancy Hayes comes into the fray. Nancy (played by model Sara Foster) is flat-out sexy and even more dangerous. She uses her wiles to whack Ryan over with lust, eventually getting him to succumb to a devious plan: robbing Ray of $200,000. Jack is a shrewd guy. He knows he is either in heaven, or getting played. He must play his cards carefully to score the big bounce and get the girl.The Big Bounce is a breakout opportunity for Sara Foster, sure to capitalize on her rep for overall hotness. However, the best efforts of Owen Wilson and Sara Foster can't save this debacle. Even the surprise cameos come off with a whimper.
Director George Armitage (Grosse Pointe Blank) has made a an amazingly bland film. It is unbelievable that he doesn't even bother to harness the skills of two incredible actors, Gary Sinese and Morgan Freeman. Both are mere appendages in a picture with scenes too short, little emotion and an overall mood of boredom and the general malaise surrounding this position is suffocating. It is so bad, in fact, that the plot twists happen without feeling or even surprise. There is no tension, or antagonism. Sinise, Sheen and Freeman are snakes with no fangs. Wilson has some great moments and generally aw-shucks-es his way through the film with panache; but that only goes so far. Armitage should know better. Making matters worse, he fails to utilize the Hawaiian setting except for longshots of Sara Foster walking on the beach.
On paper, The Big Bounce has everything necessary for a great film. It was based on a clever book with twists and turns and deceptions. It has well-rounded cast that includes Wilson, Sheen, and the grim and fun Vinnie Jones. It has a great locale in Hawaii to set it in. Even with all of this going for it, The Big Bounce goes flat.