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The Big Kahuna (Widescreen)

137 customer reviews

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(Aug 29, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Two salesmen (Danny DeVito and Oscar winner Kevin Spacey) and a company researcher (Peter Facinelli) set up shop in a hotel suite in Wichita, Kansas, on a business trip. They hope to sell their particular brand of industrial lubricants to the elusive Mr. Fuller. Spacey and DeVito are seasoned pros, while Facinelli is excited about his first business trip. DeVito is going through some kind of mid-life crisis; Spacey is all about the sale and little else; and the new kid is naive, moral, and extremely religious. Once the characters are established, nothing much happens. They talk. They prepare for their sales party, and they talk. The event starts, but the movie quickly cuts to the mess in the room afterward so they can talk about what happened during the party. Even when Facinelli is given an invite to hang out with Mr. Fuller at a private party, the camera stays behind in the hotel room to listen to Spacey and DeVito talk. Talk talk talk. Based on the play by Roger Rueff, who also wrote the screenplay, The Big Kahuna never really feels like a movie, probably because it's all talk and no story, set in a hospitality suite that increasingly feels like a prison. --Andy Spletzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Peter Facinelli, Paul Dawson, Christopher Donahue
  • Directors: John Swanbeck
  • Writers: Roger Rueff
  • Producers: Kevin Spacey, Andrew Stevens, Barbara A. Hall, Bernie Morris, Elie Samaha
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: August 29, 2000
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXIM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,258 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Big Kahuna (Widescreen)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By commontone on December 1, 2001
Format: DVD
This movie is essentially a filmed play. I won't waste time discussing the plot, which is already well-covered by other reviews. DeVito and Spacey turn out great performances, as can be expected. Spacey dons his usual sharp tongue to play Larry, while DeVito steps out of his typical obnoxious wiseguy skin to play Phil, a quiet man unsure about his life and spirituality. The surprise here is Peter Facinelli, a young Tom Cruise look-alike (humorously alluded to in a scene where his character imagines himself tending bar, a la "Cocktail") who holds his own against the two venerable veterans. He plays a young, idealistic and deeply pious newcomer to the business scene, Bob. Other critics have described him as arrogant, but he's not--his religious convictions simply run so deeply he honestly can't understand those who disagree with him. The abrasive and vulgar Larry provides Bob with a sort of guilty fascination; Larry is clearly brilliant, but is just as clearly not a church-goer. The film finds a believable and gripping tone with which to question faith and spirituality, and concludes that all three men are spiritual in their own way: Larry finds meaning through his job, Bob through Christ, and Phil lies somewhere inbetween, tired of the charade of his career but unsure how to continue. DeVito has the two most powerful scenes. In the first, he bares his heart to Larry, reminiscing about a poignant, haunting childhood dream. In the second, he lectures Bob, reminding him that he hasn't lived enough to be so sure of himself. You don't have to be religious or deeply spiritual to enjoy this film, only thoughtful. "The Big Kahuna" is a succinct, quiet, and surprisingly affecting film.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Brian Theobald on April 2, 2001
Format: DVD
I'm not an intellectual or a serious film buff by any stretch of the imagination; I've never seen an Orson Wells film and I can't wax philosophical for six hours about what makes a movie "good". I'm willing to admit that "good" and "bad" are subjective, matters of opinion. I can say, though, that it's a shame that more movies like The Big Kahuna aren't made--movies that are driven by characters and dialogue rather than hackneyed story lines.
This play-based indie flick centers around three disheartened lubricant salesmen holed up in a hospitality suite, where they discuss everything from marriage and business to spirituality and God. That's the basic plot in a nutshell. Lesser actors could've ruined the film, but pros like Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito make it shine. Spacey in particular, whose career started on the stage, makes the most of his role and creates one of the wittiest and most memorable characters I've seen in a long time. With the simplest premise, this movie has a lot to say about society and the human condition in general. It's intelligent without trying to be, and that's what makes it great.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Armando M. Mesa on October 6, 2000
Format: DVD
Moviegoers as a whole are so used to films consisting of big budgets,computer special f/x, loud extravaganzas that when something intellectually stimulating comes along they don't recognize it even if it bites them in the bum (including myself).The film-going or video-watching community is so inundated with large sounds and visuals that we often miss some of the most powerful or food for thought dialogue in films like the Big Kahuna.Whether there is one message or many messages to derive from on the meaning of life the great thing about the Big Kahuna is that there is never a dull moment of dialogue or conversation. Kevin Spacey delivers a great and genuine performance as well as DeVito. The fantasy/imagination scenes are some of the most comical seen in any movie for quite some time. My favorite quote or dialogue from any scene is between Spacey and Facinelli about seeing what the young business man can bring to the table, "You'll never know unless you throw me in the water and see if I can swim." Spacey's character replies,"You're missing the point. We're going to throw you off the cliff and see if you can fly!..."Also, Devito's monologue speech about his dream or nightmare he had as a child of God hiding in the closet is classic.The added plus is that this movie does not drag to 2-2 1/2 hours.It's 90 minutes with a clear message;Be human and make the most of your life---not very profound, but still a great message ! In the end of this film you wonder if the title of the film is referring to Spacey's character, the wealthy corporate business man they are trying to lure for their lubricant product, or God...
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Parks on February 11, 2001
Format: DVD
Concealed in this little hotel room drama are a couple of great performances, one by Spacey as Larry, the other by Danny DeVito, who gives the performance of his career as Phil, the world-weary but amiable marketing rep. At its heart, this movie is about belief systems, what stands to be gained and lost by subscribing to them, and what happens when belief systems come into conflict.
Nearly all of the action (mostly dialogue) takes place in a single hospitality suite in Wichita, Kansas during a tool and die industry convention. Insofar as it lives in the world of American business, this movie belongs to the tradition of stage play-turned-film with "Death of a Salesman" and "Glengarry Glen Ross." What "The Big Kahuna" does is bring the secular religion of American Business into conflict with the spiritual religion of Christianity.
This movie succeeds on the strength of its performances, and due to the fact that it treats all of its characters, despite their differing perspectives, fairly, honestly, and with respect (an unfortunately rare thing in Hollywood moviemaking), and finally it does not try to provide a definitive answer to the difficult questions it raises.
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