Time: 101 mins.
SYNOPSIS: Two out-of-work actors who escape from the police by stowing away aboard a luxury liner, but must give the performance of a lifetime – not only to evade the authorities, but to foil the dastardly plot of a deranged crewman who has explosive plans for eveyone on board.
BOTTOM LINE: Being a big fan of the slapstick, physical comedy of the Marx Brothers, I had high hopes that the creators of the scrumptiously delightful BIG NIGHT would be able to recapture the wit, sarcasm and zaniness of those pics. Unfortunately, though they secured a great cast and wrote a seriously outrageous and convoluted screenplay, it fails to come together in an very entertaining way. The film tries so hard to be tirelessly energetic and silly, the comedy feels forced and obvious. Tucci and Platt are wonderful as the two out of work actors trying to survive the depression who find themselves on the run and stuck on an ocean liner. Taylor is wonderful as their "girl friday," a spunky gal who expends great efforts to keep them from being discovered.
The rest of the cast plays their supporting roles with great flourish, but the limited screen time devoted to each subplot makes all of them rather incidental and the plot more confusing than it should be. The art direction, score and costumes add great style and flair to the constant merriment, capturing a true old Hollywood look and feel. There are plenty of scenes, mainly between he, Platt and Taylor, that really do come together with the chemistry Tucci was going for. Fewer cast members and a tighter plot would have made this a comedy throwback of the first order. As it stands, it's amusing, nothing more.