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Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
Cast: Rob Schneider, David Carradine, Jennifer Morrison, Scott Wilson, Richard Kind, Sally Kirkland, M. Emmet Walsh, Henry Gibson, Kevin Gage, Bob Sapp, Brandon T. Jackson, Dan Haggerty, Richard Riehle, Marcia Wallace
Director: Rob Schneider
Release Date: March 31, 2009, 8:26 pm
Rating: G for Violence
Run Time: 01h:39m:20s
"Pain is an interpretation." - The Master (David Carridine)
Movie Grade: B-
DVD Grade: B
The movie did not evoke anything close to high expectations. A movie directed by a Saturday Night Live alum, a prison comedy with an oddball cast at that, would lead one to actually expect the worst kind of disposable comedy, might make you wonder whether that 99 minutes could be put to better use updating a Facebook page or something. Rob Schneider (the alum) has had a checkered career and often falls in the category of providing occasional large laughs in small parts in films that star others. When he is the star, and I am talking about you The Animal, there is a definite hit or miss aspect. As former SNLers go, he falls more in the David Spade level than the Adam Sandler realm. However, each end of the range has its good and bad points. Some of Spade's films can be very funny and sharp, while almost all of Sandler's films are relatively unfunny and dull. It's really all a matter of taste.
Here Schneider takes on the task of starring, writing, directing, and producing. And, by golly, he acquits himself fairly well in each category. The movie has a good, solid professional quality that takes it a cut above the typical low brow comedy. The performances are reasonably rich, as the actors roll through the story with a wink and a nod. David Carradine takes another run at Kwai Chang Caine as a mysterious martial artist with some odd philosophies. Jennifer Morrison is very cute and funny as the wife Mindy, who is a big leap away from the doldrums of her role as the earnet young Dr. Allison Cameron on House. The cast is filled out with an intriguing gang of faces, including Scott Wilson as the warden, Sally Kirkland as a jury foreman, and Richard Kind and M. Emmett Walsh as lawyers. Also turning up in cameos are television veteran Dan Haggerty (former Grizzly Adams) and Marcia Wallace (former Carol on Bob Newhart). Character acting legend Henry Gibson puts in a great supporting performance as the clich╚d old con at the prison, along with former football player and martial artist Bob Sapp.
The story is about a real estate con man Stan, who is convicted of fraud and sent to prison for a mandatory 3- to 5-year sentence. He manages to bribe the judge to delay his incarceration until he can prepare for prison life. He attempts to become a fighter and ultimately hires "The Master," an apparently homeless martial arts guru to train him. Once in prison, Stan is blackmailed by the warden, has to protect himself and others, and ultimately reform his environment. Somehow, the film doesn't devolve into complete absurdity, managing to maintain its charm despite an occasionally jarring mixture of scatology and violence. The screenplay is kind of mix of The Longest Yard and Karate Kid, with a dash of "Epic Martial Arts Movie" thrown in.
The stunts are well conceived and executed, and Schneider is quite believable in his turn as sniveling wimp turned Kung Fu master. The whole things moves very quickly and with a lot of gusto. Josh Lieb's script is very crisp and funny, with some killer lines and outrageous scenarios. There is an attempt to go a bit deeper with storyˇsome stuff about learning tolerance or growing as a human or some suchˇbut forget about that, and laugh at the joks about the anus with teeth and punches to the gut.
Nice little documentary about the making of the film. Accompanying that is a selection of goofs and outtakes. It's interesting how earnest these professionals are when making a ridiculous comedy like Big Stan. From the stunts, to set-ups, to costumes, to special effects, everybody puts in a solid effort to make this as good a film as it could be. The audio commentary is pretty darn funny too, with Rob Schneider riffing humorously on himself and the production with two of the character actors, Buddy Lewis and Salvator Xuereb. He does note some potential extras that did not make the DVD.
Jesse Shanks March 31, 2009, 8:26 pm