Throughout much of "Big Trouble," goats run amok for no apparent reason, a clumsy gag that serves as an apt metaphor for the film's larger troubles. If you took a herd of goats and stapled an unrelated plot element, caricature or one-liner to each of them, then fired a round of buckshot into their midst, the ensuing chaos would be a decent approximation of this train wreck of a movie.
This peripatetic parade of flat characters, mistimed one-liners and startlingly unfunny sight gags is so disjointed, you wonder whether you're watching the 93 minutes of the film that was cut, and the actual finished movie was somehow misplaced. Despite the attempts of beatific transient Puggy (Jason Lee) to hold things together through exhaustive narration, this movie comes apart faster than nap time at the Ritalin rehab.
The caricatures who populate "Big Trouble" push the boundaries of comedic stereotypes to new and dangerous levels. Joining Puggy are such favorites as the down-and-out divorced dad (Tim Allen), the unhappy trophy wife (Rene Russo), the Jersey thugs (Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler), the angry teen (Ben Foster), the deadpan teen (Zooey Deschanel), the mismatched cops (Janeane Garofalo and Patrick Warburton), the inept rent-a-cop (Andy Richter), the buffoonish criminals (Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville), the efficient feds (Heavy D and Omar Epps), and the evil yelling rich guy (Stanley Tucci). You'd think the sheer volume of characters would create an opportunity for character-driven humor, however accidental, but the jokes are every bit as contrived: Geos are lame cars. Martha Stewart is insipid. Talk radio is dumb. Fritos -- that there's a funny food. Ha ha. Fritos.
"Big Trouble," which includes a suitcase nuke and a hijacked airplane in its rambling plot, had the misfortune of being originally scheduled for release soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Director Barry ("Wild Wild West") Sonnenfeld should have taken that as a sign that God didn't enjoy his last effort and wasn't looking forward to this one. The fact that "Big Trouble" was based on a book by Dave Barry makes you hope that Barry had an alibi that day, however -- because he certainly had a motive.
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