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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.19.09] movie review comedy

Year: 2009
Directors: Mark Devenport
Writers: Mark Devenport & Tony Claassen
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 1 out of 10

Mark Davenport's first feature film comedy 'Big Things', apparently took three years to make and involved many regional funding bodies, several separate periods of production and generally a lot of hard graft on the part if it's cast and crew. The film is about a young cycle courier called Richard. He decides one day that he'd like to make a film about a talented runner who dies, has a statue of him erected by his admirers, only for his biggest rival to be crushed to death underneath it while attempting to drill it to pieces. He dubs his less-than-bright best friend Ray producer, hires a cast of amateurs and gets to work. A lot has been made of the parallels between the real production and the one portrayed on screen, which typically goes awry with comic results.

Only the results aren't in the least bit comical, in fact, along with being one of the worst films I've ever seen, it's also one of the most downright grim and depressing. Nothing whatsoever works here and I can't help but wonder why it was chosen for this years line-up, I can only assume it's to acknowledge and reward the struggle it took to get it made in the first place.

So we have Richard, played by Tony Claassen, who also co-wrote the script and is as good a comic actor as I am an astronaut. He also starred in 2003's One For The Road, with Mark Davenport, which I have also seen and which is wretched, but I digress. Richard's a simple minded and selfish cretin who ignores his girlfriend's pleas to meet his family and bellows contradictory instructions to his horrified crew; all of whom seem to have creepy mental problems or a below average IQ. Part of the proposed comedy in the film comes from how inept the characters are in their roles as filmmakers and actors, which makes me wonder why on earth they humour Richard at all. Keep in mind that he has no history or qualifications in film, nor even a passing interest (he makes up the plot on the spot when his girl introduces him to an industry type, putting her position on the line for this complete idiot). His family are typically awful with an alcoholic mother, depressed father and loathsome little brother, but he dutifully sits out Sunday lunch and the worlds most depressing birthday party with them (which means that we do too). His best friend, who slaughters chickens for a living, can barely talk he's so stupid and this is supposed to be hilariously funny when it's rather more awkward and depressing to watch, and things begin to unravel as everyone loses interest in whatever it was they were supposed to be doing in the first place. At one point a character who has been repeatedly hired, fired and re-hired over and over, smears his own faeces onto Richards front door and I'll be damned if we didn't get treated to a close-up of Richard cleaning crap for a few minutes. What is it they say about polishing a turd? This scene more than any sums-up how loathsome Big Things really is, and the crap smearer himself is played by... Mark Davenport! Hoho! What a crazy cameo!

Devoid of skill as well as laughs, Big Things is badly shot with many scenes simply out of focus and lighting schemes changing between character shots. This is pedestrian filmmaking at its most shoddy. Towards the end of the screening my inner voice was screaming, "END! END YOU MONSTER!! DAMNIT!" As if I were a particularly outraged version of Crow T. Robot. The denouement, such as it is, didn't even make sense. After his father regales Richard with the story of his biggest regret (not sending his novel to a publisher) he is inspired to finish his film, only to discover that everyone involved has moved on and isn't interested. So he goes back to work and bumps into his now ex-girlfriend who actually gives this guy her new number. Well dear, it's your dishwater, you can soak in it. As the lights went up and a quiet and listless crowd of press and media shuffled out the door, clutching the small plastic wheelie-bins full of cheap chocolate that we'd been given on entering, I turned to my own ex, who had come to cover this film too. We enjoyed a bit of chat about how amazingly bad 'Big Things' is, which was actually quite nice.

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Adam (11 years ago) Reply

Thank you. So glad someone agrees with me! this is truly the worst film I have ever seen. Thank god I didn't have to pay to see it!


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

I found it quite enjoyable - for all its faults it made me laugh

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