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Family Movie Review: Big Game (PG-13)

BigGame ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13         Length: 87 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. The film is about an assassination attempt on the life of the U.S. President, so there is some violence, including gunfire, a plane crash, and some people who fall to their deaths; some cursing, language, and bathroom humor; and a subplot about a Finnish custom in which boys become men by killing an animal, so there are dead bears and deer with their heads removed. Not too bloody or gory, but upsetting nevertheless.

The B-movie ‘Big Game’ doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. It’s just goofy action, a crazy plot, and a good time.

By Roxana Hadadi

“Big Game” is the kind of B-movie that sets a kid with a bow and arrow against a group of terrorists with guns, and yet there’s a legitimate chance the kid might win. Sure, there’s an insane script; the characters are defined as nothing more than “bad” or “good”; and we’re supposed to believe Samuel L. Jackson, a man whose recent career has been playing tough-as-nails superhero advisor Nick Fury for Marvel, as a president who is afraid of violence. It’s crazy, but somehow, “Big Game” works.

“Big game” hunting is typically reserved for safaris, for the hunting of animals that maybe shouldn’t be killed after all: elephants, lions, rhinos. But objectively speaking, what would be the biggest “get” in the world for a hunter – if people were included in the equation? Wouldn’t it be the President of the United States?

It’s a revolting idea, but one entertained in “Big Game” by out-of-control terrorists who want to plunge the world into chaos. They don’t really have anything against the President, nor do they have any real political, social, or religious aims. Doing something shocking – and putting it on the Internet, of course – is their only interest.

The film centers on the U.S. President, William Alan Moore (Jackson, of “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron”), who is on Air Force One when it mysteriously goes down over a massive forest in Finland. The plane crash is devastating, but Moore survives, and meets up almost immediately with tween Finnish boy Oskari (Onni Tommila), in the forest overnight for a cultural tradition where he must kill an animal and then present it to his father and the village’s other men the next morning.

“The boy has one day and one night to find out what kind of man he is. When the morning comes, he will bring us what the forest has seen fit to give him,” says the elder who sends him into the forest, but Oskari can barely use the bow, and is worried that he won’t live up to the expectations of his famed hunter father. How can he keep the President safe?

“Big Game” has the most fun with its script, which uses a smart-aleck sense of humor to underscore the ridiculousness of the plot: When someone asks “Are you terrorists?” of the bad guys dressed like they’re extras from a Nazi-set thriller, who bring leather chairs to the Finnish forest to sit in while they hunt the U.S. president, the leader replies with great glee, “You certainly look terrified, so I suppose we must be!” It’s a silly moment, but the whole scene is silly, so it works. Jackson also provides some nice levity (his incredulous “You don’t recognize me?” paired with a self-pitying shrug after Oskari doesn’t know who he is works well), and there’s a good running bit where the bad guys keep referring to Oskari as “someone with a small shoe size” because they don’t know he’s a child. This film knows its limitations, but it doesn’t try to mask them.

Amid it all, though, the best component of “Big Game” is the unlikely friendship that develops between Moore and Oskari, perfectly captured when the boy asks the man, “What is it like to be powerful?” It’s a sign of “Big Game’s” zany success that such a small moment resonates in a movie centered on people hunting other people for sport.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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