review for Big Trouble on AllMovie

Big Trouble (2002)
by Derek Armstrong review

Barry Sonnenfeld's Big Trouble was pushed back six months in the wake of September 11th, not only because it features a nuclear warhead smuggled aboard an aircraft, but also because it cruelly -- yet prophetically -- teases the lax airport security that would allow such a breach. But it doesn't feel delayed from 2001; rather, Big Trouble should have come out in 1995, when Sonnenfeld's own Get Shorty set the bar for ensemble criminal capers performed as goofball, quirk-heavy comedy. So many have come down the pike since then that the surprise laughter this milieu counts on has entirely dissipated. So when genre staple Dennis Farina slaps his forehead over the chronic frustration of his attempts to whack a mark, notably the "hilarious" interference of a gaggle of goats, it's so been there, done that. The agents of nearly 20 appealing actors must have missed the memo, because Big Trouble is chock full of big names with too little screen time and too little purpose. The film is on fast forward from its opening credits, in which a tree-dwelling Jesus lookalike with a fetish for Fritos (Jason Lee) gets the audience ready for a slapstick film peopled by characters with similar peculiarities. Chance encounters and cartoon violence take over from there, as the film skips most of its exposition and goes straight for the drawn-out, third-act robbery/kidnapping that dominates the running time. Big Trouble might have inspired more laughs if this type of farce hadn't been done to death a half decade before its release. Sonnenfeld is coasting, and it's just plain lazy.