The Big Bounce (2004 film)

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The Big Bounce
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George Armitage
Produced by George Armitage
Steve Bing
Written by Sebastian Gutierrez
Elmore Leonard (novel)
Starring Owen Wilson
Charlie Sheen
Morgan Freeman
Sara Foster
Music by George S. Clinton
Cinematography Jeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by Barry Malkin
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
January 30, 2004 (2004-01-30)
Running time
88 minutes
Language English
Box office $6,808,550

The Big Bounce is a 2004 comedy heist film starring Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen, Sara Foster and Morgan Freeman. It was directed by George Armitage and based on a novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard.

Leonard's novel had previously been adapted for the big screen in a 1969 film of the same name directed by Alex March and starring Ryan O'Neal.


Jack Ryan, a surfer and occasional thief, attacks the menacing Lou Harris with a baseball bat. Harris is a foreman on a Hawaii construction site run by corrupt millionaire, Ray Ritchie. The police and Ritchie's right-hand man, Bob Rogers Jr., tell Jack to leave the island when he is released from jail.

However, Judge Walter Crewes takes a liking to Jack and offers him a job as a handyman at a small resort of beach-front bungalows he owns.

Ritchie has been cheating on his wife with a much younger mistress, Nancy Hayes, who catches Jack's eye. The judge warns him that she likes "the criminal type" and cannot be trusted. Together, they break into houses for fun and profit, then come up with a scheme to steal $200,000 from Ritchie.

Harris and Rogers attempt to get even with Jack, and it turns out that Nancy is not the only one he can't trust.



George Armitage was given a copy of Sebastian Gutirrez's script by Steve Bing.

The Big Bounce, the book, when you break it down, is basically an act and a half. It’s not a real three acts. So you’re going to have to add half of the picture. So right away you’re in trouble with somebody like Elmore, who I considered to be an absolutely brilliant writer. So he worked on the script with me, he gave me notes, and the notes are classic, they’re great.[1]

The setting for the film was moved from the Thumb area of Michigan, where the novel was set,[2] to the North Shore of Oahu. The film was shot on location in Hawaii.[3]

On the first day of pre production, Armitage was hit in the eye with a piece of lava rock, which had a virus. The director came down with in infection with two weeks left to shoot and had to go to hospital. Production shut down but Armitage says "Fortunately it was right at Christmas, so it turned into a Christmas break that we hadn’t planned on, and I completed the picture afterwards."[1]

Armitage says that despite this the film was very pleasant. "Now, being in Hawaii was probably a great deal of that. But it was just an extraordinary experience, and I credit the producer, Steve Bing, with that. He put up his own money, and I think he had $250,000 in bar bills, just picking up drinks for the crew and cast for all that time. So he couldn’t have been more wonderful."[1]

Post Production[edit]

Armitage says the film encounter troubles in post production when Steve Bing suffered a crisis of conscience:

He was getting advice from people who’re in the money business, and he felt that to have a chance to get his money back, he should go PG-13. It was very difficult for some people to understand that when you take away the reality of these people, the way they speak, what they do—these are important elements of the movie that make it work. Whether they would’ve made it a financial success I don’t know, but they make the movie work, and if the movie works, you have more of a chance of more people seeing it.... The first time we showed the film, it came in at an NC-17 instead of an R. And it was unreleasable in that form. So I said: “We’ll make it an R.” Grosse Pointe Blank was an R, we made it for $7 million and it probably made $45 million lifetime, all in. But they said: “You can’t make an R-rated comedy, they don’t make money.” That’s what they were saying in 2004. Since then, of course, a lot of R-rated comedies have done beautifully. So I said: “Look, I’m not going to oversee the destruction of my own movie, there’s no way. If you go to a PG-13, you’re going to eliminate Elmore Leonard from this movie.” The language, there’s some incredible love scenes… But the decision was made—they felt that they had to do that, so I said: “Goodbye.” I left the picture after my second cut. We’d already had two very, very good previews: in the 80s, up to the 90s. I don’t think I’ve even looked at the release print. A lot of the cuts were language and nudity. Owen and Sarah were good sports, very generous with themselves. But when people ask to see my last movie, I show them my cut of The Big Bounce, I don’t show them what’s out there. It isn’t absolutely complete, but I think it could have been a far, far better film.[1]


The film has received generally negative reviews; review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 16% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 134 reviews, with an average score of 4.1/10;the consensus states: "Lazily crafted and light on substance, The Big Bounce takes few chances and strands its promising cast in a subpar adaptation that fails to do its source material justice".[4]

Box office[edit]

This film also flopped at the American box office, grossing only $6,808,550 against its $50 million budget. [5]


  1. ^ a b c d Nick Pinkerton, "Interview with George Armitage", Film Comment 28 April 2015
  2. ^ "The Big Bounce". Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ Harada, Wayne (January 30, 2004). "Hawai'i plays itself in 'The Big Bounce'". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Big Bounce". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  5. ^ The Big Bounce (2004). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-12-03.

External links[edit]