Somehow, I’ve found myself in the mood for British comedy. I’ve been trying to catch up on some old BBC shows that I might’ve missed, and while scouring the internet for information I inevitably ended up on Amazon.com, knee-deep in the checkout screen. My mouse decided it wanted to spend some of my hard-earned cash and started clicking on various things involving people that Edgar Wright has worked with.
I’m waiting for Spaced to arrive later this month, but in the meantime a movie I hadn’t even heard of until I ordered it found its way to my doorstep; Big Nothing. The film starred Simon Pegg and David Schwimmer. Simon Pegg brought my hopes up. David Schwimmer made me skeptical, although I kept reassuring myself that he could transcend Friends by remembering his role in Band of Brothers. I didn’t really know what to expect from the movie, but I needed to get my British fix so I decided to watch it immediately.
I made some lasagna, grabbed a coke, sat down in my big automatic recliner, and put in the DVD. Charlie (Schwimmer) is the character introduced at the beginning of the film. I’m pulled into the feature, at least a little bit, by the instant characterization of Charlie through the notion that he’s both reading and listening to the audiobook of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. So the guy’s a little wierd.
It’s a couple of minutes later that Gus (Pegg) shows up. Gus is a down-to-earth, foul-mouthed, regular American guy. That’s right, American. Pegg is using his best midwest accent for this role presumably to throw me completely off base. I mean, his accent was great. I would have thought it was genuine if I hadn’t known better. As it stood, it took me a good half an hour more of hearing him talk before I could be brought back into the role he was playing.
Accent notwithstanding, the film progressed at a good pace as the major plot is revealed. Charlie and Gus need money. They come up with a plan to blackmail a priest. Josie (Alice Eve) overhears and gets in on the plan. The plan starts to go wrong. And wrong. And just when you think things are about to get better, they don’t. Nothing goes according to plan.
What surprised me the most is that everything in the movie was handled really well. Things could have gone the way of cliche a “crime gone wrong” flick rather fast but the humor, over-the-top twists and turns, and overall good performances kept me interested the whole way through. I couldn’t help but remember Very Bad Things and Death to Smoochy, as this film had the same aspects of any great dark comedy. Murphy’s Law was in effect in all its hilarious glory.
When the movie ended I was left with a smile on my face. It wasn’t the film I expected (there wasn’t an iota of British flair whatsoever), but I’m glad that my Amazon.com spending spree turned up some gold. Of course, as with any dark comedy, a certain morbid sense of humor and intellegence for some subtle jokes is necessary to enjoy the film. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie within this genre with someone who goes “I don’t get it. What’s so funny?”. I have a really bad blind date story concerning that sentiment and seeing Death to Smoochy in the theaters.
If you havn’t seen Big Nothing then I suggest getting to it as soon as possible. If you like Simon Pegg, or if you happen to like David Schwimmer, or if you’re just in the mood to watch something both twisted and funny, then go right now and pick this one up. I can’t believe this didn’t get the same publicity as some of Pegg’s other films, but that’s probably in part because the director (Jean-Baptiste Andrea) is almost brand new to the filmmaking game while Edgar Wright at least had some great BBC television under his belt.
In order to prevent further rambling, I’ll leave with this final note: See This Film!