Focusing on The Big Picture
Today's retro-review: A little-remembered 1989 flick called The Big Picture, starring Kevin Bacon, Michael McKean and a dozen other stars in big roles or cameos.
The plot: Bacon plays an award-winning film school grad who finds that making movies in Hollywood isn't as easy as it seems.
The problem: Aside from Footloose and She's Having a Baby, Kevin Bacon is usually at his best when he's not the headlining star. However, The Big Picture was an independent flick, so box-office expectations weren't too high.
Maybe you remember: It was directed by Christopher Guest, McKean's co-star in Spinal Tap, and the director of Waiting For Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.
Surely you can't forget: The late J.T. Walsh as the sleazy studio executive and Terri Hatcher as the casting-couch wannabe. And a great music video for a band called Pez-People playing "Don't Fire Until You See The Whites of Their Eyes." Die-hard fans of the movie continue to search fruitlessly for a copy of the song on the Internet.
One nasty review: "[This] sappy optimism plays like the kind of box-office compromise the film correctly excoriates." (Rolling Stone)
Why I love it anyway: Sandwiched in between Bacon's performances in the totally forgettable Criminal Law and the campy Tremors, it's a nice no-frills performance from an underrated actor. And it hints at the brilliance to come in Guest's directing career.
Closing argument: Martin Short takes an uncredited role in the movie, playing Bacon's agent. It's a tiny role, but Short has the two best lines in the whole movie:
- "I'm very, very aware... that you are seeing other agents. And I think it's good that you are. Finally, I mean it's healthy."
- "I don't know you. I don't know your work. But I think you are a genius. And I am never wrong about that."