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THE BIG BOUNCE

It may be time for Owen Wilson to take the next step, from genial, goofball adolescent to, say, genial, goofball post-adolescent. Heís still the most entertaining thing in George Armitageís bemused adaptation (screenplay by Sebastian Gutierrez of Gothika fame, the first bad sign) of Elmore Leonardís screwball heist novel The Big Bounce. As Jack Ryan (not Harrison Fordís Jack Ryan of the Tom Clancy thrillers, though the casting would be intriguing), a beach bum and occasional petty criminal on the loose in Hawaii, Wilson never gives the impression that he ever takes anything seriously, let alone that he could perform an evil or even an adult act.

When he hooks up with tough-cookie Nancy Hayes (Sara Foster in her film debut), he seems more likely to put gum in her hair than do anything mushy (heís not helped by Armitageís manner of discreetly filming the often-nude Foster to preserve the precious PG-13 rating, rivaling moments in Austin Powers). Throw in a half-dozen lovely sunsets and the lush Hawaiian landscape, and thereís not much room for a tightly knit caper plot involving double- and triple-crosses and including such big-name talents as Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, and Charlie Sheen. Nobody involved seems to mind, though, least of all Wilson. Bounce wonít do that for Armitage, who made the brilliant Miami Blues (1990) and the ambitious cult favorite Gross Pointe Blank (1997) but shows no sign of rebounding. (90 minutes.)


Issue Date: January 30 - February 5, 2004
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