Big Trouble came sandwiched in between the flops of Wild Wild West and Men in Black II. It is the only one of Barry Sonnenfelds films so far to have been a complete washout at the box-office. The problem here was simply the ill-fortune of its timing. Big Trouble was shot in 2001 and scheduled for release toward the end of that year. However, in September of 2001 along came the attack on the World Trade Center and suddenly nobody could find the idea of a comedy about inept thugs getting aboard a passenger plane with a bomb funny anymore. Big Trouble was yanked from its schedule and barely even given a release in April of 2002, before being dumped straight to video.
Even had Big Trouble not been plagued by its coincidence to 9/11, one suspects it would not have been much of a hit anyway. In truth, it is not a particularly funny film. Barry Sonnenfeld has adapted a 1999 novel by syndicated humourist Dave Barry but is under the impression that he is trying to make a Coen Brothers comedy filled with blackly spiralling errors and characters misinterpretations. Unfortunately, Sonnenfeld lacks the black bite of the Coens his only tone is one of loud, caterwauling slapstick chaos and he lacks any concept of subtlety. At the films silliest point, Sonnenfeld gives us Stanley Tucci chasing maid Sofia Vergara around the house, trying to suck her toes. To its advantage, Big Trouble is not as bad a film as either Wild Wild West or Men in Black II were. It emerges sort of as a conceptual collision between Kiss Me Deadly (1955), the classic film nor thriller about the hunt for a nuclear package, and the ensemble slapstick comedy Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1962). Certainly, with its large moderately well known cast running about, Big Trouble feels like it should have been a lot funnier than it is. You can almost see the bite that lurks beneath the surface but Sonnenfelds handling is far too bland and the film fails to amount to anything of significance.
None of the cast give performances of any note, the exception being the great and underrated Janeane Garofalo, who has the ability to give a withering look that can cut through crap at 40 paces and always provides a fine presence in a film no matter how much the rest of it fails.
Barry Sonnenfelds other genre films include The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), Men in Black (1997), Wild Wild West (1999). Men in Black II (2002), Men in Black 3 (2012) and Nine Lives (2016). Sonnenfeld also produced the witty spoof James Bond tv series Secret Agent Man (2000), the live-action superhero spoof The Tick (2001-2), the tv series Pushing Daisies (2007-9) about a man with resurrection powers and the Lemony Snicket tv series A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017 ), and on cinema screens the Gothic childrens film Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), the Disney animation spoof Enchanted (2007) and the animated Space Chimps (2008).