Stars: Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Peter Facinelli
You don’t see movies like this too often. The studios are afraid that people will be bored. For the most part, that’s probably true, but I don’t think the rest of us should be denied the opportunity of seeing some good drama.
“The Big Kahuna” was written by Roger Rueff (who adapted his own play “Hospitality Suite”) and directed by John Swanbeck. Yes, it does have the look and sound of a play – confined largely to a single room in a hotel. Yet, the direction and camera work are brisk enough to help keep your interest up but you’d better be all ears, nonetheless, because this is, as most plays are, dialogue-heavy.
Kevin Spacey plays Larry, a fast-talking, cynical salesman visiting Wichita, Kansas for a convention for his lubricant company. His coworkers are Phil (Danny DeVito), a down-to-earth, but emotionally depressed guy ready for a break and young Bob (Peter Facinelli), a bible-belting guy from their company’s research department who’s there to learn and give the company an intelligent face.
We get it from the start that Bob will indeed get a lesson. Trapped in their hospitality suite while they wait for potential clients, especially ‘the big kahuna’, the single most important client who could put their company on the map, Larry, Phil and Bob debate life, marriage, the company and God which we come to discover is Bob’s favorite topic.
Phil and Larry seem to have the prep pattern down pat but Bob’s not too sure what’s expected of him and he does his best to stay on a level playing ground with the snappy irreverent Larry.
The good and bad thing here is that Kevin Spacey is supreme in this kind of role. No one can seem quite so emotionless and angry at the same time as he. I think he needs to find other roles. But Danny DeVito is terrific, showing us many shades of Phil. Facinelli is very good as Bob who shows no shame for his clueless behavior.
Lotta says the dialogue is especially well written and insightful into the human condition. At an hour and thirty minutes, this moves at a sprint. The ending? Don’t expect a conventional one. This is just a slice of life for three men at a convention in Kansas. Phil and Larry discover a little bit about each other and Bob remains clueless. Rated R for language and adult content.