The Last Big Thing (1997)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Satire  |   Release Date - Sep 25, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Josh Ralske

The Last Big Thing is a rather dull and spotty satire on L.A. life and the search for fame. Dan Zukovic wrote and directed the film, his feature debut, and stars as Simon Geist, the morbidly cynical main character. Satire is an audacious and often dangerous choice for a first time writer/director. Zukovic seems to bite off more than he can chew. Like the writer/director himself, Simon chooses big, slow-moving targets (alternative bands, music videos, television actors -- pop culture and its purveyors in general). Zukovic's oddball characterization -- totally deadpan delivery, lank hair parted too far to the side, gawky awkwardness -- works to the extent that Simon's disgust with the world is palpable, but Simon's vacuity is too obvious. It's hard to believe that anyone, even the obsessive Darla (Susan Heimbeinder), would buy his tired act. Mike Leigh's scathing Naked has a similar narrative, but it's a far more effective film because Johnny (David Thewlis), the antisocial main character of Naked, rambles on about the state of the world with a compelling intellectual savagery that Simon can't manage. The Last Big Thing doesn't have the fascinating ambiguity of Naked, and it fails to make the audience re-examine its presumptions. The film's big twist, involving Simon's own complicity in the culture he disdains, is not very surprising, considering the vague and simplistic nature of his voiced objections. Simon's transparency makes a mess of the character of Darla, who is played as reasonably intelligent, if socially inept. Her infatuation with Simon -- her gullibility -- is fairly baffling. The film does manage a few funny moments, and Mark Ruffalo's (You Can Count on Me) subdued and charming performance as Brent, a struggling actor, is a welcome relief. Zukovic has lofty ambitions, but he doesn't have the chops to pull this "Thing" off.