The Big Kahuna (1999)

When I saw a movie with such stars as Kevin Spacey and Danny Devito with this title, and read the back of the DVD box, I was expecting The Big Kahuna about a pair of salesmen away on some crazy conference in a fancy hotel on the sun drenched beach of Waikiki, maybe trying to outsell each other between luau’s. Let’s just say, I didn’t need to find my ukulele, nor my surfboard.

While this was a bunch of salesman, and they were at a conference, the film takes place in a hotel suite in Wichita, Kansas. Talk about the middle of middle America. Actually, just about the entire hour and a half of the film takes place in this hotel room, except for one scene in a lobby, another in an elevator, and one more in another hotel. If you want visually interesting, The Big Kahuna is not it. Even the view from the hotel room is of downtown Wichita, and the characters in the film comment on how unexciting it is.

The kahuna part refers to the manufacturing executive that these salesmen are planning on selling their product to. They figure this guy can buy up their entire line of lubricants in this one big sale. The only problem, is that they don’t know what this guy looks like.

After having a seriously philosophical discussion on life, the universe, and the meaning of everything, the salesmen open up their room to the conference attendees. The big kahuna comes and goes, and only some junior guy from the company meets him. Rather than trying to pitch him some product, the youngster strikes up a conversation about Christian humanism (my alma mater would be proud). After the shin dig is over, the other two salesmen find out, and cook up another plan to save the sale, but history repeats itself. We end with more deep chat, no resolution, and end on a depressing note.

From the limited stage set, I’m guessing that The Big Kahuna is based on some one set dramatic character study kind of play. If you like theater of the absurd, maybe this is for you. Personally, I found The Big Kahuna one big drag, and not really that entertaining in the end. I kept waiting for the ending to surprise me, like the kid signed a deal behind the other guys back, or went to work for the other company, but rather, this film simply ends. Boo, hiss!

Overall Grade: C-


1 comment:

Fletch said...

I've never been able to get through this movie. I feel the same way about Hurly Burly or whatever the name of the one is with Spacey, Penn and more.