"When You Need Somebody, Any Body Will Do."
"Hilarious! Ain't It Cool News
|Outstanding performances are delivered by an all-star cast in this quirky black comedy centered on Paul Barnell (Robin Williams), a down on his luck Alaska travel agent who's on the brink of bankruptcy and whose beloved wife, Margaret (Holly Hunter), is on the brink of insanity.|
So what's a nice guy with good intentions but bad business sense to do? The answer lies frozen in a dumpster outside of Barnell Great Escapes - a dead body Paul hopes to pass off as his long-lost brother Raymond (Woody Harrelson) and then collect on the life insurance. Unfortunately, investigator Ted Watters (Giovanni Ribisi, Lost in Translation) who's anxious to transfer back to the lower 48 with his girlfriend (Alison Lohman, Where the Truth Lies), isn't about to let Barnell walk away with a million bucks. Adding to Paul's avalanche of problems are two aspiring hit men-turned-kidnappers (Tim Blake Nelson, W. Earl Brown) and the stunning return of the supposedly dead Raymond, who now has an ax to grind with his brother. Desperation is running high in The Big White, and if Paul is smart, he'll blow the snow, take the money and run...to South America.
"Ice-bound black comedy boasts strong cast... John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
"The director here is a bright British spark... Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"...Ribisi is rather good as the claims investigator... Philip French, The Observer
"...Fargo redux...a dark and offbeat sense of humor... Vince Leo, Qwipster's Movie Reviews
This little-known feature consists of an all-star cast including Robin Williams and Holly Hunter. THE BIG WHITE is a dark comedy that explores the relationship between an Alaskan travel agent (Williams) and his mentally unstable wife (Hunter).
Cast & Crew
FilmCritic.com 7 of 10
The Big White's marketing problems almost without question relate to its similarity to Fargo -- a film you never want to try to go head to head against. Williams plays a financially distraught travel agent named Paul. Desperate for cash (and Tourette's-suffering wife Margaret (Hunter) is no help), he lucks out when he comes across a dead body in a Dumpster, takes out a quickie life insurance policy on his long-lost brother, then puts bacon on his face and leaves him to the wolves...Sound familiar? There's no way to review this frozen double-cross story without thinking of Fargo every step of the way. Williams even seems to be aping Wililam H. Macy in his continuing quest for credibility as a "serious" actor. And he pulls it off. The Big White is a very good and underrated little movie, full of black comedy, clever coincidences and plot twists, and fun performances from Hunter, Harrelson, and Alison Lohman as Ribisi's telephone psychic girlfriend...And yet it is so very familiar. Director Mark Mylod (best known for doing the Ali G Indahouse TV show) and writer Collin Friesen (who made a film called Farm Sluts) are slaves to the Coen brothers. Great mentors yes, but The Big White loses too many points for originality, to the degree where it eventually starts to feel like a derivative instead of an homage.
- Christopher Null
DVD Times 5 of 10
Let's get the Fargo comparison out of the way now. A black comedy, set in Alaska in snow covered locations, two incompetent killers and a dead body to be disposed of - the comparisons to the Coen Brothers film are inevitable, and unfortunate. Personally, although I love the Coen Brothers' films, I'm not as fond of Fargo as most other fans, but it has to be said it handles its black humour with a great deal more sophistication, with more originality, with better characters and, lets face it, with more actual humour than this poor second-hand attempt. To say The Big White has plot holes is pointless - it's not the kind of film where you would take any of the unlikely coincidences, contrivances, contradictions and just-not-making-any-sense the least bit seriously - but does it have to be so predictable?...With a cast like this - Robin Williams, Holly Hunter, Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Blake Nelson, W. Earl Brown, Woody Harrelson and Alison Lohman, you'd expect a lot more from Big White than it actually delivers. Ok, with only a number of UK TV series (Cold Feet, Reeves and Mortimer) and one less-than-creditable previous feature film (Ali G Indahouse), you might question Mark Mylod's ability to handle a feature film, but I think he and the cast only do as well as the script allows, and it's a lousy script - unoriginal and unfunny.
- Noel Megahey