I am a big fan of the works of Elmore Leonard who, as I am sure you already know, is a prolific writer of crime caper movies with a streak of humour running through them as black as night. His characters are complex, his stories convoluted, with more twists than a corkscrew. Like that other prolific writer of the 20th century Stephen King, Mr Leonard has had mixed fortunes when his works have been transferred to the big screen. Many of his books defy the screenplay format, while others such as the wonderful Get Shorty or Out of Sight sizzle with luscious characters and dialogue. Others such as Gold Coast are just plain bad. Unfortunately, despite wanting to like The Big Bounce I just could not find it in my heart to do so.
Although the novel is set in Chicago the movie, for no good reason other than better weather, has been relocated to Oahu an Hawaiian tropical paradise. Owen Wilson plays Jack Ryan (not the one made famous by Harrison Ford) a surfer dude and work shy slacker who is not averse to earning a living on the wrong side of the law with a little petty larceny. Jack falls foul of a construction site foreman Lou (Vinnie Jones continues to make a living out of being a thug) and is sacked from the construction site. The local Judge, Walter Crewes (Morgan Freeman) takes pity on him and decides to offer him a job as a handy man taking care of some beach chalets that Walter owns. It is here that Jack meets the willowy blonde Nancy (Sara Foster) and a plot is hatched to liberate construction boss Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise) of a considerable part of his fortune. But all is not as it seems.
This breezy little comedy caper has a stellar cast, with the likes of Charlie Sheen, Willie Nelson and Bebe Neuwirth all turning up in supporting roles. Throw in director George Armitage of Grosse Pointe Blanke fame and the producers must have been rubbing their hands with glee. It's a shame to report however that although no expense has been spared on the ingredients, the recipe has produced a real dogs dinner. The story is fragile and lacks cohesion. Much of the witty and darkly comic dialogue is lost on the likes of Owen Wilson, who has the charm but lacks the gravitas to pull off the role (compare to Travolta and Clooney in Get Shorty and Out of Sight respectively) It seems that most of the cast enjoyed a great holiday in Hawaii but while they were there they forgot to make a movie. Oh well, I guess I will have to wait for Be Cool, the sequel to Get Shorty and currently in post production, for a descent fix of Elmore Leonard.
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