Some movies are good. Some movies are bad. And some movies just are. In their own unique way, these films that are neither good nor bad, but rather an uncertain, ambiguous mishmash of both can be more frustrating than the worst bad films.
The romantic comedy Big Ain't Bad is one of those films that is neither good nor bad. It has, somewhere within its 108 minute running time, the potential to be a good film. And in fact, that are enough entertaining moments sprinkled throughout to make it watchable. At the same time, however, there are enough flaws to make it more of a missed opportunity than a true success.
Sean Blakemore stars as Ric, an up and coming businessman trying to make a success of his construction company. Ric is engaged to Natalie (Jade Dixon), who catches her husband-to-be in a meaningless one night stand while she is supposed to be out of town. Next thing you know, Natalie has dumped Ric's trifling ass, and he is left to ponder the error of his ways. From here, things get a bit complicated. Ric, as is apt to happen in films of this nature, embarks on a quest to win Natalie back. Meanwhile, Natalie, who has been betrayed in the past, reluctantly begins dating a wealthy guy (Tico Wells) who sees in her a soulmate. While all of this is going on, Natalie's ex-con brother Butch (Reginald Ballard) is hatching a plan to get even with Ric for hurting his sister. And finally, Ric is forced to take on a housemate in order to make ends meet, which brings the oddball Mobe (Troy Medley) into his life. Mobe, despite his nondescript looks and spaced out demeanor, is quite the lady's man, and after a while it seems that Mobe is short for Moby Dick.
The problem with Big Ain't Bad is that it has a bit too much going on for a single film. The script is crammed with enough characters and subplots for an additional film, creating an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink feeling that bogs the film down. Compounding the problems is that the fact that the whole Ric and Natalie plot – essentially what the movie is about – is less interesting than what's happening on the sidelines. Neither Ric nor Natalie is fully developed enough to really get us caring one way or another if they get back together. In fact, there's really no sympathizing with an idiot like Ric, who cheats on someone as fine as his woman. So instead of wanting to see things work out between the two lead characters, you spend most of the film waiting for Mobe to stumble back into the picture.
At the same time, even with all the problems that hinder Big Ain't Bad, it is not a completely terrible or totally unwatchable film. Even the script, which has too much going on for its own good, is competently written. And that's part of what makes this film so frustrating – nothing in it is all that bad. The cast all give solid performances, director Ray Culpepper has some talent, and the film itself has the potential to be pretty good – especially when compared to so many of the other "urban" films out there.
Big Ain't Bad is presented in 4:3 full frame. The picture quality is good, and director of photography Matt MacCarthy knows how to make things look good on a limited budget.
Big Ain't Bad is presented in 5.1 simulated surround sound. I'm not quite sure what "simulated" surround sound is, but the audio levels are decent and the sound is clear.
Perhaps if Big Ain't Bad were a slightly better film, there would be more reason to excited about the bonus material. A collection of deleted scenes are entertaining, but serve as a reminder that even more needed to be cut to streamline the film. By and large, the included outtakes aren't that funny, and seem like padding to give the disc more bang for the buck. The audio commentary, with director Ray Culpepper and executive producer Brian Poe is solid, but the film itself is not necessarily one that leaves wondering about the filmmaking process, or wanting to sit through the film again for that matter.
When you compare Big Ain't Bad to so many of the other "urban" films out there, it really comes out head and shoulders above a vast majority. It is not a great film, but rather a decent film with its share of flaws. But at the end of the day, none of those are incompetent filmmaking, which again, puts it way ahead of many other films. Not something you'd want to watch over and over again, at the very least it's worth renting.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]