Big Kahuna

Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Peter Facinelli
Director: John Swanbeck

Salesman have long inspired many a movie with classics like GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS that was based on the sharply written play by David Mamet, but considering that the life of a salesman can prove to be quite boring without a sharp enough script such films could easily stimulate sleep instead of interest.

Larry (Kevin Spacey) and Phil (Danny DeVito) are two old school salesmen doing what they do best which in this case is selling lubricants for the mechanical industry. For their current sales convention on the 16th floor of The Hospitality Suite in the lovely Wichita, Texas, Phil has brought Bob (Peter Facinelli), a new boy in the firm, along to portray the brains of the company. As the salesmen get ready for their night of sales where they hope to snag the ‘big kahuna’, which is the term they use to describe the one client that could turn their company’s slagging profits around with big orders for their product, they find themselves talking about their own individual opinions. Phil and Larry start in their own ways trying to pass on words of wisdom to the new boy Bob.

As the night comes to an end Larry starts to panic because the ‘big kahuna’ hasn’t turned up. Then to their surprise it turns out that Bob met him earlier in the day but didn’t realise who he was. Phil and Larry now suggest that Bob should seek him out and try to get him to sign to their lubricant deal. As they wait Phil starts to reveal to Larry that he is no longer into the salesman trade and wishes that he could change jobs. This news distresses Larry but he is too macho to admit it so he just casually shrugs it off and tells Phil that he doesn’t agree with him. When Bob finally returns he tells Larry and Phil that he ended up discussing Jesus Christ with their prospective ‘big kahuna’ and so he didn’t mention the lubricants at all. This news causes Larry to argue and have a brief scuffle with Bob that Phil eventually breaks up. This sales trip to Wichita, Texas eventually reveals the true sides to Phil, Larry and Bob’s characters.

John Swanbeck tries to make this movie cinema worthy but alas the characters are not emphatic enough to merit any serious emotions from the audience. Other than a few witty comments scattered here and there throughout the movie there is very little humour to be found here.

Kevin Spacey headlines here as the fast talking, top salesman giving an average performance which is fine but he just doesn’t seem to have a good script to work with. The same applies to Danny DeVito although in DeVito’s case he gives a much better performance as the aging philosophical salesman who wants something else in his life.

All in all this is a very hard film to stay awake through and will probably attract Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito fans, but even then it is not worth the trip to the cinema and best viewed at home.

2 out of 6 stars

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