Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There’s a trend happening in Hollywood nowadays, a trend I call the Torqueanizaton of movies.  ‘Torque’ of course is the biker movie that I often discuss, and has become one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures, even outdistancing ‘Demolition Man’ for that honor.  In brief, the thing that makes ‘Torque’ so great was that after seeing the first rough cut and being disgusted by it (in my theory), they cut out all meaningful dialog, and scenes not involving fast bikes or hot women, cooked it down to less than 80 minutes and kicked it out the door.  So before you could yell ‘This crap SUCKS!’, it’s over. And all you’re left with is a happy, warm feeling.  I’ve seen this happen numerous times since then, usually in movies that I’m guessing were meant for theaters and for whatever reasons the powers that be decided they weren’t good enough, cooked them down to less than 80 minutes and then kicked them out to DTV.  I’m thinking this has happened to the dark crime caper flick ‘Big Nothing’, though released theatrically in the UK, is being released Direct-to-Video on these shores and has somehow lost a good ten minutes off of its running time.

Today’s ‘Friend’ trying to break free of that show I never watched is David Schwimmer who plays unemployed college professor and aspiring writer Charlie Wood.  Sick of not being able to care for his Police Detective wife Penelope (Natasha McElhome) and their young daughter, he takes a horrific job a tech at a support call center.  There he meets the fast talking Gus (Simon Pegg- playing an American no less) who has a plan to make some fast cash to help his daughter get a cornea transplant.  Since Charlie has managed to lose this crap job on his first day ON the job, he is open to any and all suggestions.  The plan, as it turns out, is to blackmail upstanding but wealthy members of the community armed with knowledge of their secret porn website surfing.  Town hottie Josie (Alice Eve) manages

to wedge herself into the plan as well and if they manage to just stick to the plan, they should be able to extort a quick hundred grand from the town pastor, and Charlie can treat his family to the life they deserve with his share of the loot.

Now we wouldn’t have much of a movie here if the plan worked to perfection now would we?  Without going into too much detail, not only does the plan go out of control, it goes completely haywire, replete with dead bodies, serial killers, murdering wives, snuff films, crooked FBI agents, grifters, femme fatales and a boat load of stolen cash.  Stuck in the middle of this mayhem, chaos and deception is poor Charlie also has to deal with the little fact that his police detective wife has showed up as an investigator on this picadilly.  What is one to do?

I liked this movie.  It was dark, slick, witty, and funny.  But to like ‘Big Nothing’ you have to choose to overlook a lot of the phenomenal stupidity that dominates the film.  Stupidity that is critically necessary to keep the narrative going.  Say you walk into a house that is not your own, a house that you and some colleagues have some illegal activity happening and you find a dead body.  Should you A; leave immediately? B; leave immediately, or C; grab the body, drag it out of the house, dump it in a septic tank, go back in the house, make some phone calls, take shower, and watch some DVD’s.  Considering that before this point your only involvement with this caper was, well, somebody talking to you, I’d choose A or B and be done with it.  But then we have movie even shorter than it already was.

Say you live in a town in Oregon which seems to have a population of what looks to be about 500, and you’re married, for some years now, to the chief Detective on staff.  What are the chances that one her deputies wouldn’t recognize you as her husband, unless he was hired yesterday?  There are a lot of little silly nonsensical plot points like this in ‘Big Nothing’ which some may not be able to see past.  Of course explanations to all of this may be on someone’s cutting room floor, since this movie did lose a good chunk of its narrative on its way to the United States.

I had little problem dealing with those little niggles though.  I loved the whole look of the film and the overall atmosphere, Simon Pegg was great in his role as the duplicitous Gus, Jon Polito who’s been in more movies than anybody EVER was hilarious as the fat and blind crack FBI agent, and David Schwimmer did that David Schwimmer thing he does.  You know that thing he do.  ‘Big Nothing’ is a fast moving, well acted, very silly but very, very dark comedy which provided some solid entertainment and a couple of big laughs.  Plus it didn’t take up a lot my time, which I always appreciate.  Hooray good short movies. 

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