Big Nothing (2 stars)

(15) 85min

Sometimes things just don’t work out. Particles and elements shift and design gets de-railroaded. That’s how you end up with a koala bear instead of a kangaroo or in this case a Big Nothing instead of Blood Simple or Fargo

Big Nothing is a smalltown blackmail comedy in which call centre employees Charlie (David Schwimmer) and Gus (Simon Pegg) decide to use some financial records at their disposal to blackmail a pederast priest. It should be a case of making the phone call and picking up the dosh but chaos, as Charlie (who is a big reader of Stephen Hawking) well knows, is universal.

French director Jean-Baptiste Andrea (Dead End) and screenwriter Billy Asher certainly try and give the audience as much bang for their buck as possible - there’s Robert Aldrich style multi screens, absurdist dialogue, manic ultra violence, a sexy devilish side kick in the shape of Starter for Ten’s Alice Eve (Trevor’s daughter), axes, snuff movies, animated inserts, Colombo style turnarounds and an artfully inventive pop soundtrack. And yet nothing sticks. Schwimmer is, as ever, a non presence, Pegg tries his best to work some shtick out of the weak script but it’s difficult getting past his variable American accent, while Jon Polito, Natascha McElhone and Mimi Rogers are wasted in clichéd support roles. The filmmakers seem to want to make a lot of their sadism, tight plotting and viciously cruel references (advanced diabetes, serial killers, sex rings that kind of thing) yet it feels patchy and overlong at its very reasonable running time. Go rent the 1974 film Dirty Mary Crazy Larry; it’s got a similar-ish plot and the car chases are better.

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