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The Big Bounce

Elmore Leonard is a prolific author, responsible for the characters and books adapted into such films as Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, and Out of Sight, and the recently cancelled television series Karen Sisco. People love his novels for the dialogue and characterizations, and one would assume that when making an adaptation of one, a filmmaker would try to retain the spirit of the novel. The Big Bounce was made into a film once in 1969 starring Ryan O'Neal and Leigh Taylor Young. This version is pure junk. There are a bunch of colorful characters and a twisting plot where everybody double-crosses each other, but the color comes more from the clothes and the double-crossing doesn't make any sense. The Big Bounce takes place in Hawaii. Just so nobody forgets this, director George Armitage (Grosse Pointe Blank, Miami Blues) reminds everybody with random shots of people surfing.

And, as everybody knows, things go slower in Hawaii. Time seems to slow down, and everybody takes it easy. Nobody embodies this more than Owen Wilson (Shanghai Knights, I-Spy), with his laid back attitude and nasally voice. Wilson seems to play the type of character that will always complain or come up with some witty, sarcastic comment, and does so as Jack Ryan, small time crook. That's all fine and dandy, but in addition to the Ryan character being a slacker, the entire story is one too. Screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez (Gothika, Judas Kiss) is so lazy in his script that nothing really happens. The characters wander around, dressed skimpily and spouting off random lines, all dealing with some sort of scam. Then, realizing this, Gutierrez sprints through the last fifteen minutes, piling double-cross upon double-cross such that nothing makes sense.

Ryan used to work for Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise, The Human Stain, Impostor), a shady businessman. Locals are annoyed that he wants to spoil the idyllic Hawaiian landscape with an ugly resort. After being fired, Ritchie befriends Walter Crewes (Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty, Dreamcatcher), a local judge that owns some bungalows. Ryan goes to work for Crewes, and just happens to work down the beach from Ritchie. There, he espies Ritchie's mistress Nancy Hayes (model Sara Foster), who is trying to steal a large sum of money from him. She convinces Ryan to help her, and the two begin to plot their way to Ritchie's safe.

Most of the film is Hayes trying to convince Ryan to steal the money. This comprises of her walking around in tiny bikinis or wrapped in a blanket and nothing else. She does look amazing, but come on, this isn't a swimsuit shoot, this is a movie. Armitage is working with many talented actors, and has nothing for them to do. There is a lazy feel to it, both in the pacing and the way the film was made. Armitage is trying to fill time with quirky characters and glib dialogue, but it's much too superficial to be worth remembering.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 29 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual content and nudity, violence and language.

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