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With: Robin Williams, Holly Hunter, Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Blake Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Alison Lohman
Written by: Collin Friesen
Directed by: Mark Mylod
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references and some violence
Running Time: 105
Date: 07/28/2005

The Big White (2006)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Snow Blind

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This new black comedy with a terrific cast went straight to video, and though it's better than Robin Williams' recent theatrical hit R.V., it still doesn't quite click. It's like a song sung in the wrong key. The clever premise has Paul Barnell (Williams) stuck in a dull travel agent's job in Alaska. He's married to Margaret (Holly Hunter), who has undiagnosed Tourette's Syndrome; the local clinic doesn't believe her condition is real. Moreover, Paul's brother (Woody Harrelson) has been missing for five years, and his life insurance policy has gone unclaimed because of lack of proof (i.e. a dead body). When Paul finds an anonymous body in a dumpster, he goes to great lengths to disguise it as his brother to collect the money. Enter Ted (Giovanni Ribisi with some kind of terrible, blotchy eye makeup), a claims agent who wants just as eagerly to leave town, and so he stops at nothing to uncover Paul's trick. Ted's girlfriend Tiffany (Alison Lohman) works as a phone psychic that speaks regularly with (guess who?) Margaret. The film's humor starts off in the right tone, but gets too broad, too slapsticky, for a proper black comedy. Think Dr. Strangelove or Fargo or After Hours, and the key is deadpan. In The Big White, we get too many scenes of people bungling and blundering, dropping things and overreacting. Nevertheless, Hunter in particular does some marvelous things with her unhinged performance; she manages to make Margaret insane but adorable. The director, Mark Mylod, previously helmed Ali G Indahouse (2002).

DVD Details: The 2006 DVD from Echo Bridge comes with a making-of featurette, a photo gallery and optional DTS sound.

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