Lock two time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey in a room with Danny DeVito and newcomer Peter Facinelli and watch the dialogue fly.
The Big Kahuna follows the exploits of two veteran salesman and a rookie who have some to Wichita, Kansas to sell lubricants to a client that could save their entire firm. As the three salesman settle into their “hospitality suite” they begin to learn more about each other and develop a couple angles on how to approach such a valuable client. As the party swings into full mode the client never seems to get there.
The two veterans are convinced they have been stood up until they find out the rookie had been talking to him all night. Spacey’s character gets very apprehensible when he discovers that the rookie is a born again Christian and he spoke to the client all night about religion. Now its up to the three of them to devise a plan about how to save the company, their jobs and maybe even spread a little good faith.
Based on the stage play “Hospitality Suite”, Kahuna doesn’t explore any new territory from the original play which really makes the average moviegoer feeling very constrained and claustrophobic. One would tend to think if a playwright was given the opportunity to bring his or her play to the silver screen he or she would add some moments that could take place outdoors in Wichita or in a different part of the hotel. This could liven up the dialogue and maybe even invent a challenge for the actors.
The Big Kahuna is also one of those films that is very reliable on dialogue, the actor and the story. In the early scenes the characters orbit the story without really becoming involved, this alienates us from their emotions. It’s interesting to see how the writer deals with this dilemma as the characters seem to explode with emotion in spurts of dialogue.
What we end up with is three unique characters whose main goal seems to be unveiling themselves to their peers then landing the client. These three characters include Spacey’s firecracker troublemaker butting heads with the innocent, heavily religious rookie played by Facinelli as DeVito’s stoic burnt out salesman seems to be just looking for an excuse to leave the biz.
Kahuna dragged on a little to long for me as I became enraged at Spacey’s character. But through that personal connection I do have to give Spacey credit for achieving such an aggravating role. DeVito delivers an interesting mix of held in emotions which make you conclude that he does need to explore more serious roles in the future. As for Facinelli, I didn’t seem to think his character stood up for himself enough. I am not sure if it was supposed to be that way or it was in the performance.
(2.5 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.