DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Big Bounce (2004).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Jul 15, 2004.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    The Big Bounce (2004)

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2004
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 88 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $27.95
    Package: Keepcase

    The Feature:
    There’s a line that seems to be common among many reviews that critique films which are remakes, particularly those of their successful predecessors; “why do they keep making bad remakes of great films? Why don’t they do a good remake of a bad film?” Well, in this case they tried. Well sort of. Although the original 1969 version of The Big Bounce wasn’t actually critically or even commercially successful, it did have a lot going for it, although I hadn’t even heard of the original version of the film until I received a screener copy for my review, earlier in the year.

    The original film certainly doesn’t qualify as a “great film”, but it’s most certainly head and shoulders better than the lumbering 2004 remake. While the original film featured Ryan O’Neal, Leigh Taylor-Young, Van Heflin, Lee Grant & Robert Webber, the remake countered with another group of talented actors with the likes of Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, Charlie Sheen, Willie Nelson, Harry Dean Stanton, Bebe Neuwirth and Sara Foster.

    For the most part, the story line is the same as the original version with several minor alterations, most of which take place at the end of the film. Jack Ryan (played by Owen Wilson) is a construction worker and winds up in jail after an altercation between him and his boss. His fate ultimately winds up being decided by Judge Walter Crewes (played by Morgan Freeman) who seems to see the good in Jack and decides to go easy on him. Shortly after his release from jail, the judge runs into Jack at a local bar and offers him a job at his resort as the handyman, but does he have ulterior motives?

    Jack accepts the position and while working at the resort he eventually meets up with Nancy (this time played by the beautiful and former MTV host, Sara Foster), who is playing mistress to powerful land entrepreneur Ray Ritchie (played by Gary Sinise). It’s instantly clear what Nancy’s motives are and she wants Jack to go along with her scheme to rob her suitor of the $200,000 he keeps tucked away at his cottage. However, unlike the first film, there’s a few unsuspecting souls also involved in the double cross but can they pull it off...?

    When watching the remake, the biggest striking difference is the time period. The 1969 version showcases the rather careless happy-go-lucky attitude of the 60’s and the characters. The film also attempts to stress what the film is about by describing the significance of the “bounce” and the thrills that come with it during their criminal escapade. The time period of the original film seems more appropriate as Jack returns home from a stint in Vietnam, which might very well be the reason he seems to carry an enormous chip on his shoulder. Also noticeably absent is the sense of danger of a potential relationship between Jack and Nancy. As their relationship progresses, the remake fails to evoke the same sense of danger and doom that Jack is heading towards. The newer version showcases Jack as nothing more than a beach bum and Nancy having gratuitous sex with anyone who has something to offer her.

    The Feature: 3/5

    Absolutely gorgeous. I tend to hold transfers of newer (brand new in this case) films to a higher standard, than I would say for a film produced in 1950 or even 1980, since the technology exists to make these transfers (of newer films) almost perfect. In this case, it is indeed almost perfect.

    Unlike the original film which was shot in and around the Monterey County area of northern California, this film was shot in beautiful Hawaii. From start to finish, there are beautiful shots of the island, numerous waterfalls and drop dead gorgeous shots of numerous beaches and sunsets. Rarely have I seen images on my set-up that offered up a greater sense of dimensionality. As we’d expect, the print was immaculate – free of any dirt or blemishes and film grain of any density was virtually non existent.

    Colors… wow! The color palette was a sight to behold displaying a beautiful array of vibrant colors that were saturated to perfection. Skin tones looked real and accurate (perhaps just slightly red), but very pleasing. Blacks were deep and whites were contrasted perfectly, always looking clean and crisp – rarely an issue however, since 90% of this film takes place outdoors.

    Image definition was astonishing. Many of the facial close-ups displayed skin pores and whiskers that could be counted almost individually while detail on wide shots and shots of hard objects in the background never suffered. There were only a couple of occasions when the image looked even slightly soft.

    The overall image was rock solid and stable, never once suffering from any light shimmer and it was all but impossible to detect any edge enhancement or signs of compression errors. A few of the surfing scenes looked slightly noisy, but its nearly impossible to say what was new or if any stock footage was used and it only appears for a few seconds at a time, so I am certainly prepared to give the transfer the benefit of the doubt.

    Until HD-DVD comes along we’re not likely to see much better than this…

    WARNING: A fullscreen version exists.

    Video: 4.5/5

    The overall audio presentation on this Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer is effective but not likely to leave a major impression.

    The track is clean and free of any hiss or other distracting anomalies and for the most part sounds natural. The track is only slightly on the aggressive side, which is most certainly an up front track. Dialogue was always clear and bold and was never in competition during the absolutely terrible score by George S. Clinton. The score sounded something like a 1940ish Miklos Rozsa (no disrespect meant to the brilliance of Mr. Rozsa, there’s just really no other way to describe it) crime film score with a style of Survivor theme music added to it. It became very grating – very quickly.

    The dynamic range was slightly better than average and the soundstage, which was moderately wide, was pretty much up front.

    The 5.1 track employed the surrounds mostly for the purpose of envelopment more than directionality. Although tactful, they could have been used more effectively, given some of the action sequences. LFE was present during a few of the wave scenes and a few of the other action scenes, but that was about it.

    The track does a nice job however it never seems to strive for anything beyond satisfaction.

    Audio: 3.5/5

    Special Features:
    I’m afraid the special features are rather sparse in nature and other than the theatrical trailer, are of very little significance.
    [*] The Big Bounce: A Con In The Making which is nothing more than a promo piece as each of the major cast members discuss their role in the film, praise everyone with superlatives and thank their lucky stars for a shoot that took place in beautiful Hawaii. Duration: 12:07 minutes
    [*] Surfing The Pipeline is a brief feature which shows a few of individuals who were shown surfing in a few of the scenes in the film, although other than the culture of the state, the sport was of very (if any) consequence to the film. Duration: 3:43 minutes
    [*] Wicked Waves which is nothing more than footage of surfers. Again, I question the significance of the surfing theme which really is only used a filler throughout the movie. Duration: 8:04 minutes
    [*] The Theatrical Trailer is also included which is in perfect condition. Duration: 2:03 minutes.

    Special Features: 2/5

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

    Final Thoughts:
    It’s really hard to say where this movie fell flat, but make no mistake about it, it sank like a stone. Director George Armitage seemed to have all the tools at his disposal including a healthy cast of talent and a better than average storyline based on Elmore Leonard’s novel, yet he wasn’t able to pull the trigger. Even though the 1969 version is still lacking, the period of the troubled 60’s just seems to be a good fit and it excels in attempting to demonstrate the hazards associated with Jack’s character and his desire to be around Nancy. Something the remake fails to do.

    While the movie itself leaves a lot to be desired, the video presentation is spectacular and the audio is certainly up to the task but neither of which are enough to allow for any sort of a recommendation. A rental if you absolutely must.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)

    Release Date: July 20th, 2004
  2. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

    Jun 19, 1999
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    Thanks for the review.

    Note: I haven't seen the original, and haven't read the book

    I hope people don't buy this blind based on the cast and the fact that it's adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel.

    When the film was over, I was still waiting for it to start.

    There was nothing offensive about the film, and it didn't insult my intelligence. However, it didn't do anything to me either. Everyone just sleepwalks through the film, and it felt as if nothing happened.

    Even though it was released when most films go to die (Januaary) - I'm surprised it didn't go straight to video instead.
  3. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
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    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    i'll watch it tomorrow.
    my co-worker watched it the other day and
    said it was just "ok".

    so i jujust watched it.
    everything herb said i agree with.
    very short too only 80 minutes.

    to paraphrase a line from the movie.

    some things are exactly as it seems.
  4. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

    Jul 27, 2001
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    I bought it blind today. I remember wanting to see it when I saw the commercials, but from the posts above, I'm rethinking that. Off to Wal-Mart...
  5. Matthew Todd

    Matthew Todd Second Unit

    Jan 3, 2000
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    How do the surfing scenes compare to those (audio and video) that are in Blue Crush? I'm a sucker for impressive looking surfing scenes, even if the movies themselves aren't that great.

  6. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Feb 16, 2001
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    Albany, NY
    There are a few spectacular shots. But the surfing shots are just establishing shots and have pretty much nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

    For what it's worth, I really enjoyed it as a bit of light fare with the lines Owen Wilson has to deliver a bit wittier and more substantial than the norm.
  7. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

    Jul 27, 2001
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    I decided to watch it after all and was pleasantly surprised by it's charm. Owen Wilson pretty much plays himself (as he usually does). It's not the best comdey I've seen, but it's not even close to the worst.

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