[box cover]

The Big Bounce

Breezy, light, and sun-kissed, The Big Bounce is a lot like the Hawaiian beaches on which it's set. Which is sort of ironic, considering that the Elmore Leonard novel on which the film is based originally took place in Detroit. In any case, substituting bikinis and surfboards for coats and Chryslers was a good choice — whenever the plot loses momentum (which happens fairly often), you can just ogle the girls and the stunt surfers for a few minutes. The main flaw of The Big Bounce (2004) is that it never really seems to get going; like laid-back "hero" Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson), the movie seems happy to drift along and just see what happens. Jack, who has a history of petty theft, finds himself unemployed and aimless after he assaults the foreman of a construction crew working for wealthy developer Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinise). Taken under the wing of wry judge Walter (Morgan Freeman) and irresistibly drawn to pretty blonde Nancy (Sara Foster) — who just happens to be Ritchie's current tart-in-residence — Jack soon gets pulled into a heist far bigger than anything he's attempted before. But for much of the movie, the big job takes a backseat to scenes of Jack and Nancy frolicking in the waves and falling in love. That's too bad, considering that Foster's charisma here is skimpier than most of her costumes (she's much better in the indie schoolgirl spies flick D.E.B.S.). Meanwhile, Wilson does the "what, me worry?" shtick he does so well, and Freeman turns in his umpteenth variation on the shrewd mentor character he's perfected. Elsewhere in the supporting cast, Charlie Sheen is nicely sleazy as Ritchie underling Bob Rogers Jr.; his weasely little mustache says it all. Unfortunately, the film never really takes advantage of Sheen and Freeman (or Sinise, for that matter; he has only a few minutes of screen-time) — like everything else in The Big Bounce except the Pacific Ocean, they're not particularly deep. The film has its moments, but ultimately it's one of those lightweight caper flicks that's never quite as clever as it thinks it is. But anyone who appreciates the movie's surfing scenes will enjoy the extras on Warner's DVD: Two of the disc's three featurettes focus on wave riding. "Wicked Waves" offers eight minutes of stunt surfer outtakes, while "Surfin' the Pipeline" looks at the techniques that went into capturing the footage used in the film. The third featurette, "The Big Bounce: A Con in the Making," is standard behind-the-scenes stuff. The theatrical trailer rounds out the extras. The anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) looks good, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is strong (other options include a French 5.1 track and English, French, and Spanish subtitles). Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech



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