NADA. ZILCH. ZIP.
BIG NOTHING ★ Directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea. Starring David Schwimmer, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve, Natascha McElhone, Jon Polito, Mimi Rogers 15A cert, gen release, 86 min THE makers of Big Nothing are tempting fate – and critical put-downs – with the title of their slight, derivative comedythriller, for which Blood Simple Made Simple would fit as an accurate alternative. The influence of the Coen brothers hangs heavily over this self-consciously quirky exercise, but the movie never comes close to emulating its influences.
Set in an Oregon town, it stars David Schwimmer as Charlie, an unemployed teacher frustrated that he hasn’t got a job and can’t get a publisher for his book, while his wife (Natascha McElhone) works as a police officer. When Charlie takes a job at the call centre of a technology company, an opportunistic colleague, Gus (Simon Pegg) draws him into a scheme to blackmail a local clergyman whose favourite internet sites are teenorgies.com and youngandhung. com. Then Josie (Alice Eve), a former Miss Oklahoma and ex-girlfriend of Gus, gets involved and raises the stakes.
As so often tends to happen in mov- ies dealing with inept characters embarking on a scam, one problem leads to a bigger one with snowballing consequences. Big Nothing has a bigger problem, in that its structure has an air of desperation about it, feeling consistently contrived as it plunges the characters into a succession of far-fetched, would-be zany situations.
Even the locations don’t feel convincing, since this Oregon-set movie was shot in the Isle of Man, Wales and British Columbia. The casting of the two leads is just as uneasy, with Schwimmer proving as bland as ever in his postFriends career. Pegg tries harder, although his American accent wavers and the movie doesn’t compare to his cinema breakthrough, Shaun of the Dead. Mimi Rogers has almost nothing to do, while Jon Polito makes a mildly amusing appearance as a diabetic, overweight FBI agent.
Big Nothing is the second mediocre genre excursion from French director Jean-Baptiste Andrea, following his debut with horror movie Dead End. Andrea collaborated on the laboured screenplay with Billy Asher, who doubles as a police deputy in this forgettable film.