Big Nothing (2007)
Big Nothing (2007)

Genre: Crime Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min.

Release Date: June 12th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jean-Baptiste Andrea Actors: David Schwimmer, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve, Natascha McElhone, Jon Polito, Mimi Rogers, Julian Glover, Sarah Edmondson

 


 

E

x-professor Charlie Wood (David Schwimmer) may have a Ph.D., but his prospects for book writing are in limbo. To supplement his income, he reluctantly takes a job answering phones for a computer company. It’s here that he meets Gus (Simon Pegg), a foul-mouthed but relatively jovial coworker who has a blackmail plot against Reverend Smalls (Mitchell Mullen), a mephitic preacher who frequents illegal child porn websites. The scheme is all set for a partner, and Gus has his eyes on naïve newcomer Charlie. Gus’ girlfriend Josie (Alice Eve) also works her way into the ploy, insisting that the duo needs someone to make the actual phone call for money demands.

Gus is chosen to arrive at the clergyman’s house to collect the dough, but is surprised by Smalls, waving a gun. From there, everything that could go wrong does go wrong, accompanied by comedic mishaps and miscommunications. Blackmail turns into murder and trespassing into kidnapping, victims are swapped, identities masked, snuff films uncovered, wounds self-inflicted, and the ransom amounts increased – all while cops keep popping up at inconvenient times. Just as their plans shift into complete chaos, the real disasters begin, with betrayal, a suitcase full of cash, dead bodies that keep coming alive, and a road trip flight that finds the group continually in the clutches of the law and on the precipice of incarceration.

The editing is a bit rough around the edges, especially when it comes to the rapid progression of scenes, which forces the story forward abruptly, giving little time for traditional character development. This works partially in its favor, allowing for the maximum amount of dialogue and action, but it keeps the characters stuck in a place that prevents them from exhibiting any nuances that might differentiate them from the actors’ standard, predictable personas. Simon Pegg is very much Simon Pegg and Schwimmer is the same Schwimmer seen in every one of his comedies. There are also intrusive flashbacks, multiple panes appearing within the frame, animation, and the camera cutting back and forth between characters from all sorts of angles. It’s semi-creative but generally unnecessary. The fancy tricks appear to be included for the sake of innovation and uniqueness, ignorant to the fact that it has all been done before.

The humor is effective for the most part, demonstrating an unusually hilarious set of scenarios that arise from a trio of incredibly inept crooks. But Charlie frequently, incongruously mumbles useless factoids that are meant to be comic relief from the tense moments – many of which fall completely flat. The complexity, irony, character interactions, and constant coincidences are what make “Big Nothing” especially fun, although the purpose of the film seems simply to be an opportunity to show a barrage of taxing twists and turns, which eventually becomes tiring. It’s slightly clever from time to time, but it’s pieced together in an entirely forgettable manner.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10