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The Big Kahuna (1999)

Cast: Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Peter Facinelli
Director: John Swanbeck
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Drama, Independent
Running Time: 90 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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This title is currently out of print.

Three salesmen working for a firm that makes industrial lubricants are waiting in the company's "hospitality suite" at a manufacturers' convention for a "big kahuna" named Dick Fuller to show up, in hopes they can persuade him to place an order that could salvage the company's flagging sales. Phil (Danny DeVito) is in his mid-50s; he's devoted his life to his job but emotionally has little to show for it. He's learned to live with the loneliness of a salesman's life, but is smarting over the recent collapse of his marriage and is trying to quit drinking. Bob (Peter Facinelli) is a quiet but observant newcomer in his 20s, recently married and adjusting to his first business trip. And Larry (Kevin Spacey) is a bundle of energy who likes to drink, smoke, and start arguments; he's openly confrontational with Phil and Bob and quick to pick up on their foibles and failings. Phil and Larry become more impatient and bitter as the evening wears on, especially when they learn that "the big kahuna" already dropped by the suite; wearing someone else's name tag, he had a few drinks, talked with Bob about the recent death of his dog and Christianity, and never mentioned placing an order. Screenwriter Roger Rueff based the script on his play Hospitality Suite; Kevin Spacey was a co-producer as well as starring as Larry. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

great dialogue film by alexjb December 15, 2004 - 2:19 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
mild spoiler contained...

the cover photo and the stock description don't do this film justice. to the best of my knowledge, kevin spacey never shows up in a headdress, and there are no scenes even approaching that level of gaeity. this is a hard-core dialogue and character-study film, along the lines of Glengarry Glenross.

spacey's character talks almost non-stop when he's in the scene, which is most of the film. it's easy to start to hate him, except that he's got the best comedic lines (devito is *extremely* subdued, especially early on). later in the film, devito and the other guy come into their own and have some very well-written and extremely well-delivered monologues and dialogues.

on the whole, the subject of 'the big kahnua' is really secondary. it's the reason that these three men have to be together in this one evening, and as such is just a device. the film's 'climax' is a heated and intense exchange about faith, salesmanship, and whether or not there's overlap between the two. the secondary emphasis is sort of 'the life of a salesman,' with the speaky clean new-guy, the end-of-the-line veteran (devito) and the still-full-of-energy-but-just-past-his-prime spacey.

if you liked glengarry, and dialogue films in general, ignore the jacket photo and rent this movie!

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.08)
72 Votes
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