Cassie's Movie Reviews
  past features
  cool links

Categories this film falls into:

Plays as Film

the big kahuna (1999)

A movie about character.

John Swanbeck

Roger Rueff
(based on his play)

Anastas N. Michos

Kevin Spacey
Danny Devito
Peter Facinelli

The Big Kahuna Poster

This is easily one of the best films I've seen in the theaters this year. Roger Rueff's writing is excellent. The chemistry between Spacey, DeVito and Facinelli works because it seems real - Spacey and DeVito are veterans and Facinelli is a relative newcomer. It fits. They fit. The movie works.

I was amazed at the character building that was taking place on the screen. With each movement, sigh, and word uttered, you get to know the characters inside and out. Or do you? To create characters who have complexity is something I have always admired. Anyone can create a burned out salesman, a depressed middle-aged man or a young missionary - but to create them with multiple layers - that takes talent on both the part of the writer and the actor. Everyone involved in this film was up to the challenge.


Kevin Spacey. The quick dialogue of this play is perfect for this man. He takes it and runs.Bob
Danny DeVito. It's a rare pleasure to have him in a serious role - soak it up for all it's worth.
Peter Facinelli. The young actor is breaking free of those "teen movie" roles - not that they are bad things, but he's a great actor and he needs to be challenged more.
That the convention takes place in Omaha.
The fireplace complete with fake logs and fire.
Larry sitting on the food cart. I don't know why I enjoy that so mucLarry fantasizingh, but I do.
The fantasy scenes: Bob as bartender, Larry as the Big Kahuna complete with headdress and worshippers, Phil on the balcony.
Infomercials on the TV.
The song at the end (Baz Luhrman's "Everybody's Free"). Yes, I know there was a big stink about this song and who actually wrote the words when it was going around as an e-mail, but it fits so well with the heart of this film. Just let the credits roll and listen.


Larry's discussion of women in business suits - and Bob's reaction involving Jesus - Larry saying that obviously Jesus never saw a woman in a business suit.
Confronting liars. Fabulous. Larry in front of the fireplace
Finding out what the switch is for by the fireplace.
The bathroom discussion - mirrors, the ancient Egyptians.
The coat rack.
Larry's ranting about Fuller not coming.
Discussion of life and death between Phil and Larry.
Discussion of love between Phil and Larry
Phil imparting knowledge to Bob after Larry leaves. I got chills when I saw this part. Danny DeVito is excellent in this film.
The last phone call. Perfect.


The world is full of clocks, Bob. Clocks and mirrors. It's a damn conspiracy. - Phil
That was a very clever answer, Bob. - Phil Larry and Bob
You as a person don't really matter, Bob. It's what you represent. - Larry
There are people in this world, Bob, who look very official while they are doing what they are doing. And do you know why? - Larry
- Why? - Bob
Because they don't know what they are doing. Because if you know what you are doing, then you don't have to look like you know what you are doing, because it comes naturally.
That's why there's hope, Bob, because there's people like me who listen. - Larry
Well I'll be a son-of-a-bitch. I don't smoke. You don't drink. And Bob here wouldn't think about lusting after a woman. Between the three of us, we're practically Jesus. - Larry
Oh, I think you're missing the point here, Bob. We're about to throw you off a cliff and see if you can fly. Larry's tirade about Fuller not showing up- Larry
It just looked like a lot of people, Bob, cuz the room's so damn small. - Larry
It was a lead-in, Bob? - Larry
Most people, y'know, don't go around looking for opportunities to strike up conversations with total strangers about, y'know, life and death and religion. - Larry
No, it wasn't. I was always hoping we'd end in a kind of murder-suicide thing. - Larry
Strange things happen. - Phil
-No they don't. Not unless they're printed first in USA Today. If Jesus comes again, he's gotta give them two days notice - time to work up one of them little graphs. - Larry
How could I not love you? You have good hygiene. You're a snappy dresser. You don't talk with your mouth full. What's not to love about that? - Larry
Larry Did you mention, perhaps, what line of industrial lubricants Jesus would have endorsed? - Larry
Because it's very important to me that people hear about Jesus. - Bob
That means that you preaching Jesus is no different than Larry, or anybody else, preaching lubricants. It doesn't matter whether you're selling Jesus or Buddha, or Civil Rights or How to make money in real estate with no money down. That doesn't make you a human being. It makes you a marketing rep. - Phil
If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids, find out what his dreams are - just to find out - for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation, to steer it, it's not a conversation anymore - it's a pitch - and you're not a human being. You're a marketing rep. -Phil
We were talking before about character. You were asking me about character. We were speaking of faces. But the question is much deeper than that. The question is Do you have any character at all? And, if you want my honest opinion, Bob, you do not. For the simple reason that you don't regret anything yet. - Phil
-You're saying I won't have any character unless I do something that I regrPhil et? - Bob
No, Bob. I'm saying you've already done plenty of things to regret - you just don't know what they are. It's when you discover them - when you see the folly in something you've done and you wish that you had it to do over, but you know you can't because it's too late. So, you pick that thing up and you carry it with you to remind you that life goes on. The world will spin without you. You really don't matter in the end. Then you will attain character because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself all across your face. Until that day, however, you can't expect to go beyond a certain point. - Phil