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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Retro Review: The Big Picture (1989)

The Big Picture
Cast: Kevin Bacon, J.T Walsh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael McKean, Teri Hatcher, Fran Drescher
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $117, 460

Plot: Film school graduate Nick Chapman thought his career was made after winning short film, but discovers that Hollywood isn't as easy as it seems

'Big Picture Fares So Little As A Comedy'

A comedy about the movie making business, 1989's The Big Picture is directed by Christopher Guest, who fared better with This is Spinal Tap, that satirically pokes fun at the Hollywood model of the film industry. Yet its downfall is the humour just didn't materialise, despite it reading 'a hilarious and twisted all-star cast'; this film is far from being hilarious. 

Film student Nick Chapman graduates with honours and his short film that was nominated wins a special prize. For aspiring movie maker Nick, his win enables him more exposure so that Hollywood backs the film he has long dreamed of making. Yet no sooner does Nick's dreams become a reality that he becomes seduced by Hollywood's charms and he loses his original film, as well as his girlfriend. 

Will Nick eventually wake up and come to his senses, before he loses track of everything, and everyone?

Columbia Pictures gave The Big Picture a limited theatrical release and as such, it grossed over $117, 000 in the U.S.

Sadly, as a comedy, The Big Picture doesn't work so well and is devoid of genuine laughs and humour and the tone is just not there throughout. A couple of years later, director Robert Altman came up with The Player, which virtually has the exact same premise and almost similar tone as this movie. The Big Picture lacks biting satire and accessible comedy for it to work, the pacing is arduously slow and whilst the film concentrates on Bacon's character's rapid selling out to the mainstream, commercial industry, this is all conceived in a way that is slow, drab, tedious and undeniably witless and is utterly humour less. 

Martin Short plays the camp agent with an awful perm, Kevin Bacon was a-okay, but the script did him no favours whatsoever. 

Movies about the film making business often leads to all manner of entertaining and offbeat situations that tend to be watchable and enjoyable. Yet The Big Picture is not one of them. As a comedy, it isn't amusing enough and as a satire, it's not hard-hitting or strong enough to live up to that billing. 

It was difficult for me to sustain my fullest interest and attention towards The Big Picture - and try as I might & did, it became too tiring that I decided I couldn't sit through any more of it. It's a pity: it has a good and simple premise that is easier to follow, but it all became buried and then lost within all the bland writing and lack of humour. 

I fathom at The Big Picture's intentions and what this film is trying to achieve and say. However, Christopher Guest's banal direction put paid to all of that and thus, it falls way short in my expectations. 

Final Verdict:

If you are looking for a comedy film that pokes fun at the movie industry, your best bet for that is Bowfinger- far more satirical and more to it, it is funnier.

On the contrary The Big Picture is utterly bland and despite its good intentions, has an uninspired and lifeless direction that fails to initiate any real or genuine interest for the audience, though moreso in particular towards myself.


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