Big Nothing (2006)
David Schwimmer and Simon Pegg in a not-too-squeamish dark comedy. What could go wrong?
What keeps me on edge about these “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” comedies is that, as they get darker and darker, they either get sillier or bloodier, or both. Big Nothing simply gets sillier. Mostly.
The filmmakers didn’t strain themselves constructing a fresh premise. Charlie Wood (David Schwimmer) is an out-of-work, stay-at-home dad. His wife, Penelope (Natascha McElhone), is a local sheriff, on the trail of a serial killer. Having given up his dreams of publishing his book, Charlie takes a job at a local call center that provides computer support for the helplessly clueless. And, of course, after a hilarious mixup he gets fired on his first day. That’s just enough time for him to get acquainted with coworker Gus (Simon Pegg). And Gus is the proverbial Man with A Plan. Of course.
Through somewhat nebulous explanation — something to do with the call center’s computer resources — Simon has hatched a plan to bribe a local reverend with records of his internet visits to child porn sites. Gus’s girlfriend Josie (Alice Eve) invites herself into the plan. What could go wrong? In the course of one increasingly bizarre night, everything. Of course.
What, you thought I’d say to skip it? Look, it has no pretensions. Yes, you can see most of the twists coming. But the screenplay is just clever enough for consummate comedians like Schimmer, Pegg and Eve to evoke a series of chuckles and belly laughs. It remains a straight up comedy with a tinge of horror, an occasional spurt of blood, and one unexpected jolt featuring an axe. The only thing a tad unexpected is the ending, in a satisfying way.
All in all, Big Nothing is an enjoyable Friday night diversion when you’re not in the mood to think, and looking for something darkly funny but not over-the-top gross.