Friday, April 24, 2015

BIG TROUBLE (1986) - John Cassavetes

"The scholarship didn't come through! What can I do?!"

Arkin as insurance salesman Leonard Hoffman, a henpecked father of musical prodigy triplets who can't afford their Yale tuition. This largely forgotten noir comedy (a slight twist on Double Indemnity) was Arkin and Falk's second pairing and, regrettably, John Cassavetes' final film. According to Wikipedia, Cassavetes disliked the final product intensely due to studio interference. He took over the film from Anthony Bergman (writer of The In-Laws) mid-way through. So it's no surprise it plays at times like a cash-in attempt on The In-Laws, the two stars' chemistry and characters only marginally changed.

There's too much wall-to-wall Bill Conti score but a few nice moments where the actors get to stretch their legs, extemporize, say odd things outside of plot that feel like they could be plucked from a better Cassavetes film (Minnie and Moskowitz, for example). But most of those moments go to Falk and Beverly D'Angelo (great in this), while Arkin is generally left to stand around looking panicked. The best performance comes courtesy of Valerie Curtin as Arkin's uber-ambitious wife. A true multi-tasker, she does a lot with very little on the page in a short amount of time. "Yale doesn't understand, Leonard. They HAVE to go to Yale. How are they going to make connections at UCLA or CCNY? They won't. They'll meet basketball players. That's it!"

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