The Austin Chronicle


SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

By Steve Davis, March 24, 2000, Screens


Dir: John Swanbeck; Scr: Roger Rueff; Prod: Kevin Spacey, Elie Samaha, Andrew Stevens; Exec Prod: Gerard Guez; DP: Anastas N. Michos; Ed: Peggy Davis; Cast: Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Peter Facinelli.

35mm, 90 min., 1999 (RP)

The American salesman has inspired the American theatre's greatest playwrights, from Miller to Mamet. Based on relatively unknown dramatist Roger Rueff's play about three industrial lubricant vendors in a Holiday Inn hospitality suite, The Big Kahuna sputters most of the time as it waxes philosophical about what makes humans tick. Monologues and dialogues range from discussions about the nature of God to the pleasure in wiping one's ass in a mirrored bathroom. Director Swanbeck does a fairly good job of keeping the camera moving so that the action doesn't seem so claustrophobic, but the truth of the matter is, all of that cinematic maneuvering doesn't help because the script just isn't very interesting. The film's title, which refers to a large sales account the salesmen want to land, has Godot-like implications that aren't entirely clear either. Of the three-man cast, Spacey makes the most indelible mark -- he's the master of smart-ass cynicism. When he's on a roll, The Big Kahuna is the movie it ought to be.

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.