The Big Bounce (2004)

Directed by George Armitage

While I can’t say The Big Bounce is a great movie, or even a particularly good movie, I did like it. But I may have enjoyed what it might have been as opposed to what it actually is.

Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, The Big Bounce would like to be a kind of tropical Get Shorty but, partly due to the setting and partly due to the casting of Owen Wilson, it doesn’t cut it. The problem is pacing.

Wilson and Hawaii go together perfectly. But both are too laid back for a story like The Big Bounce which requires a much quicker pace to work. This may be why the film is so short (88 minutes). I suspect a lot was cut to move the story along.

As you would expect from an Elmore Leonard story, there are a lot of interesting and quirky characters.

There’s a con and a lot of storylines that intersect. But nothing ever really gets off the ground.

Still, I enjoyed looking at and listening to the movie, and the ending really picks things up. Unfortunately, the ending is the only place where some characters appear (and they’re quite funny), and the only time we begin to see the intersections and the story’s potential.

So why do I still kind of like the movie? Because it’s so comfortable. It’s a bit like a day at the beach. You enjoy sitting in the sun and people watching even though at the end of the day nothing happens.

Still, it certainly seems like somewhere in this celluloid there was a fun movie wanting to break out. All the elements are there.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen.


The Big Bounce was also made in 1969, starring Ryan O’Neal. It was no more successful than this 2004 film.

– The PG-13 version of the movie (what was released) apparently was toned down, at least as far as language goes, and several scenes appear in the trailer and not the film. I can’t imagine this made much difference to how well the movie plays.

© 2004 Piddleville Inc.

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