Sunday, 23 September 2012



Every so often, it's as though producers decide they want a nice holiday in the sunshine at the studio's expense, so they commission a colourful piece of happy-smiley fluff set in Hawaii or the Caribbean. There's no other good reason why we get pretty but empty films like After The Sunset, Into The Blue or Fool's Gold: big names like Pierce Brosnan, Jessica Alba and Matthew McConaughey essentially get six weeks in a luxury beach resort with a bit of easy acting work before lunch, and audiences get something warm and sunny full of bright colours and top movie stars kicking back and taking it easy on golden beaches with roaring surf and all the girls in bikinis.

The Big Bounce is a prime example: Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Sara Foster, Charlie Sheen, Gary Sinise and Vinnie Jones all turn up in an amiable and silly crime caper so laid back it makes Sir Roger Moore look like Travis Bickle. Beach bum and petty crook Wilson is inveigled by Foster's womanly wiles into stealing a pile of Sinise's cash that's to be used as payoff money so he can build a huge hotel on sacred land (which will ruin Freeman's own beach paradise). But - seeing as it's based on an Elmore Leonard book - maybe their alliance isn't as simple, or as exclusive, as it seems: she's in league with someone else, who might be double-crossing them with someone else, and maybe the money isn't there anyway....Who's actually scamming who?

Most of The Big Bounce is easy on the eye and the brain: it's easy, flip and casual for the first hour and then piles on a series of unlikely plot twists. With the sunshine, surf and sand, it's a chillout film that feels best suited to being watched from a hammock while being wafted by a gentle sea breeze. In reality, of course, the escapism works better when watching it on a wet Thursday evening in a flat some ninety miles from the nearest coast but within earshot of a railway station tannoy, as far away as possible from the "no worries" idyll depicted. It's a thoroughly harmless, likeable distraction from reality. Directed by George Armitage, who's only made seven films since 1971 (and this one, apparently a commercial failure, was eight years ago).


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