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Movie Reviews

The Big Kahuna  

Larry (Kevin Spacey)
Phil (Danny DeVito)
Bob (Peter Facinelli)

Directed by John Swarbeck Written by Roger Rueff, based on his play “Hospitality Suite”

Rated R for language
Running Time: 90 minutes Distributed by Lions Gate Films

The Big Kahuna is a classic movie about ethics, friendship and life. Larry (Spacey), Phil (DeVito) and Bob (Facinelli) are three midwestern businessmen at crucial stages of their lives. Larry is a smooth-talking slick operator whose brutal honesty comes off as no surprise to his old pal Phil, but shocks and offends young Bob. Recently married, deeply pious and a bit nervous about his first convention, Bob’s wholesome righteousness bothers Larry to no end. Trying to keep the peace is Phil, who has been in the business the longest. Recently divorced and emotionally and physically exhausted; Phil has suddenly found himself forced to reassess his life and its purpose. As the evening progresses, while the three men wait for an important potential client-“the big kahuna”-to step by, they find themselves opening up in unexpected ways. As the night turns into day, each man has been transformed in ways that they would never expect.

The Big Kahuna is a brilliant and important movie. It reaches into the depths of life and retells highs and lows of the business. The film reminded me a lot of Glengarry Glen Ross and Death of a Salesman. In which, The Big Kahuna is also a story of salesmen’s relationships and striving for the American Dream.

Roger Rueff wrote the screenplay for The Big Kahuna, based off of his play “Hospitality Suite”. It is obvious that the film was first a play, 90% of the movie takes place in the suite and there are only three actors that have more than two lines. Roeff creates memorable characters through his beautiful writing. The conflicts and monologues in this film are superb. The Big Kahuna is the best script to come out of Hollywood so far this year.

John Swarbeck commonly directs the film. Since most of the action takes place in the suite, Swarbeck let’s his actor’s rip with the dialogue. One cool element that Swarbeck used in the film was the lighting. He develops effective shadows and angles that create emotion and tone with the characters. An example of the great lighting in the film is the scene when Larry and Phil are eating early breakfast in the suite.

The acting in The Big Kahuna is awesome. Kevin Spacey continues to show that he is one of the top actors around with his sizzling performance as Larry. Every role that Spacey touches is unforgettable, the man is just incredible. Danny DeVito has never been better as Phil. DeVito tackles the in-depth character and delivers a performance that might get him an Academy Award nomination. Newcomer Peter Facinelli is overshadowed by the dominance of Spacey and DeVito. However, Facinelli shows nice range and promise of an actor of the future.

I loved this movie. It is one of those small independent films that is hardly released during the big summer movie marathon, and actually ends up out shining all of the summer blockbusters.

The Big Kahuna has no action, special effects, nudity or shock value, it is just one those great little movies. I do warn you that watching this film is like watching a play; so if you don’t like movies that just have talking and emotion, don’t see this film. However, if you want to see real storytelling with a good message, see The Big Kahuna.

Report Card Grade: A

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