Elmore Leonard, a giant among crime novelists, has had terrific movies made from his books (Out of Sight, Jackie Brown, Get Shorty), but this is definitely not one of them. The Big Bounce was royally screwed up by Hollywood in 1969 with Ryan O'Neal as the star. Now it's Owen Wilson who drops the ball as Jack, a con artist living in Hawaii who gets involved in a series of double- and triple-crosses orchestrated by a real estate developer (Gary Sinise), his wife (Bebe Neuwirth) and his mistress (Sara Foster), not to mention a judge (Morgan Freeman) and his cronies (Harry Dean Stanton and a nonsinging Willie Nelson). Fine actors all, and director George Armitage is a hero of mine just for Miami Blues and Grosse Pointe Blank. But except for a rare scene of shaggy charm, nothing works. Nothing.
From The Archives Issue 271: August 10, 1978