I just went to a press screening of Big Trouble, and I want to go on record as saying it’s the biggest Hollywood turdburger I’ve eaten since Mission to Mars. This is the new film by Barry Sonnenfeld, whose Get Shorty was funny and enjoyable. Big Trouble is in the same vein: a caper flick with a big cast, including the usual motley assortment of criminals, cops, and civilians.
It’s a big, dumb, shoddy, smug film, reminescent in quality of the 1980s crapfests of Paul Mazursky. Martha Stewart even makes a cameo, with her head CGI’ed onto a dog’s body. There are endless Xena, Warrior Princess jokes. The entire cast is wasted, and Tim Allen is more leaden and unfunny than ever.
I remember when Barry Sonnenfeld was a talented cinematographer, and showed a flair for good fun with stuff like The Addams Family and Get Shorty. But with the tepid Men in Black, the awful Wild, Wild West, and now this, he’s on the express train to obsolescence.
Don’t worry, Barry. Paul Mazursky saved you a seat.
Fortunately, I also saw a press screening of Panic Room, directed by David Fincher. It has one of the strangest opening credits sequences I’ve ever seen, but once you’re over that hump the film is superb.
I was a bit baffled that Fincher chose this story to tell, after his bravura turns with Seven and Fight Club. But it turns out he’s made something of an old-fashioned Hitchcock thriller, a real nail-biting twisty pleasure–and the main theme, by Howard Shore, does a remarkable job of conjuring up Bernard Herrmann’s soundtracks for Hitch without being imitative.
Fincher lets his love of CGI-assisted camera movements get the better of him early in the film, resulting in a goofy endless tracking shot that even passes through the handle of a coffepot. But he delivers the goods from start to finish. Jodie Foster is as strong as you’d expect, and the rest of the cast is solid. Dwight Yoakum is especially freakish as a scary thug. Fincher has done the best reinvention of an old-school thriller in years. Kudos to David Koepp for a fine script.