Big Trouble (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 23-Apr-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-"Five Minute Movie"
Audio Commentary-Barry Sonnenfeld (Director)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 81:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Barry Sonnenfeld

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Tim Allen
Rene Russo
Omar Epps
Dennis Farina
Ben Foster
Janeane Garofalo
Jason Lee
Tom Sizemore
Stanley Tucci
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music James Newton Howard

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Titling
German Titling
Smoking Yes, cigars.
Annoying Product Placement Yes, cars mostly.
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Big Trouble is supposedly a victim of the September 11th, 2001 tragedy in New York. Why? Well, I can't really tell you without giving away a fairly major plot point, but trust me when I say that it was really a diversionary tactic used by the studio - there is nothing really problematic with this film. Big Trouble fits into a similar basket as Death To Smoochy; with an all-star cast, a big-name director, and based on a novel by an award-winning writer one would expect a hit, but instead it is a virtual unknown.

    The plot of Big Trouble is rather complex. It all surrounds a mysterious suitcase (more like a chest really - suitcase is their word, not mine), but that is not where the story starts. We start with Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) and learn that he is not exactly happy, having lost the job he loved along with his wife and the respect of his son. Through his son, Matt (Ben Foster), he meets Anna Herk (Rene Russo), the mother of Jenny (Zooey Deschanel), a girl in one of Matt's classes at school. Anna is in a marriage that she hates, but things are looking up as two hitmen - Henry (Dennis Farina) and Leonard (Jack Kehler) - have been sent to Miami to kill her husband, Arthur (Stanley Tucci). Confused yet? Well, it gets better. There are two cops (played by Janeane Garofalo and Patrick Warburton), two FBI agents (Heavy D and Omar Epps), two crooks (Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville), a maid (Sofia Vergara), and Puggy (Jason Lee), who lives in a tree. Oh, and two Russian gangsters are thrown in for good measure. Suffice it to say, that they all get to interact together, and do so in a way that is actually quite easy to follow - no mean feat given the number of people there are.

    The major problem with Big Trouble is that it is too smug, and too clever for its own good. Instead of trying to let the humour just come out it is forced, reducing the impact and value of the jokes. Many of the jokes and situations are placed, simply saying "look at me - I'm funny", but without enough actual humour to induce a response. Additionally, with such a large ensemble cast, it is difficult to find time to give any one of them good definition, leaving the events that unfold as the movie progresses devoid of any real emotional investment. The performances themselves also have a very dead-pan, "I'm funny", feel.

    To be fair, Big Trouble is still a reasonably entertaining chase comedy, and is entertaining enough to be worth at least a rent and, with such a large cast, the odds of having a favourite actor in it are vastly increased. There is just not much chance that any will find this film good enough to want to watch it over-and-over again.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is extremely good, and it is a pleasure to watch.

    Presented at 1.78:1, a slight change to the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    This transfer is extremely sharp, exhibiting a large amount of fine detail. There is little in the way of grain, with only the short sequence from 6:05 to 6:14 being noticeable. Shadow detail is excellent, allowing for very good definition during the darkly lit scenes. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are also very good, showing the bright sets and costumes off extremely well, while still handling the lush greens of the Miami environs.

    There are no compression artefacts at all in this transfer. There is only a small amount of aliasing, and what is present is always minor, with the worst instance being on the gun from 16:37 to 16:45. There are very few film artefacts (such as at 20:34), although they do tend to appear in the middle of the screen.

    The subtitles, as with the other Disney DVDs I've looked at recently, are extremely accurate, well-paced, and easy to read.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 62:45 during Chapter 10. It is not particularly well placed, as it occurs on some fairly obvious motion.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer is very good, and while not as good as the video, is still good enough to listen to.

    There are four audio tracks present on this disc. The first three are the original English dialogue, and dubs in Italian and German, all in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 Kbps), while the fourth track is the English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 192 Kbps).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, and the quite varied accents are all easy to understand.

    Audio sync starts off poorly, being quite obviously out up until around 3:00, and it is slightly suspect again at 18:03. After this, however, there are no problems.

    The score is provided by James Newton Howard and is of a bright and breezy comic nature, suiting the film well. There are also a number of contemporary pieces used during the film, and these are more effective than usual, making for a rather impressive musical backing.

    The surround channels are used quite aggressively for what is essentially a character-based comedy. They are used to full effect to carry the score, but also come into play on many occasions for directional sound effects (planes landing and taking off are always given impressive attention). The only area in which surround activity falls down is ambient noise, as the surrounds are mostly carrying the score, and tend not to carry awfully much in the way of ambient noise.

    The subwoofer use is extremely good, both in backing up the score and the effects noises. Just a note however - the sound mix contains some very deep bass for the sound of the suitcase when it is moved around - this is intentional and not a problem with the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are only two extras on this disc. One is a complete waste of time, while the other is well short of excellent.


    The menu is animated, 16x9 enhanced, themed around the movie, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Five Minute Movie (7:30)

    Apparently the producers wanted to prove that there was little to their movie, so they chopped out most of it, and made a "Five Minute Movie". Not only did they make the mistake of thinking that seven and a half minutes is the same as five minutes, but they actually thought this was a good idea. This is presented with the same technical options as the full length movie (sans audio commentary).

Audio Commentary - Barry Sonnenfeld (Director)

    While quite interesting, this commentary can be a little grating to listen to. For starters, Sonnenfeld seems to take it as a personal insult that virtually no-one saw this movie, which he also seems to think is a masterpiece. Secondly, at times he can go from being quite rude and insulting to a person to outright praise - either he is frighteningly unaware that he is actually being rude, or he joking with the insults. It is a little hard to tell, as he delivers the entire commentary in a nasal drawl. On the upside, what he has to say is actually quite interesting, and gives a good insight into the making of the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     If trailers for two rather dodgy movies are enough to sway you, then you probably should stay away from shops during sale time. These two discs are even, so I declare a draw.


    Big Trouble is a movie that has many recognisable faces and a very fine pedigree. Pity it's the genetic throwback then. That isn't to say it's bad, but it's good when it should have been great.

    The video quality is excellent, presenting a clean image that is a pleasure to watch.

    The audio quality is not quite up to the standards of the video, suffering from some sync problems and not enough ambient surround use, but overall is still quite good.

    The extras are limited, consisting of a seven-minute recap of the movie and a commentary. The commentary at least is interesting, if a little too self-congratulatory.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Friday, January 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Vincent C

Comments (Add) NONE