THE BIG I AM

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 8th April 2010 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Nic Auerbach (The Contract (2016))

Cast: Leo Gregory, Vincent Regan, Phil Davis, Beatrice Rosen, Robert Fucilla, Paul Kaye, Michael Harvey, Bronagh Gallagher, Terry Stone with Steven Berkoff and Michael Madsen

Writer:  Jack Iandoli & Mick Cunningham

Trailer: THE BIG I AM

File:The Big I Am FilmPoster.jpeg

It’s the famously troubled Robert Fucilla production, The Big I Am‘s turn to come under the microscope.  Now would we review it in the same light had we not read this article?  I’d stumbled upon the article when looking for a review for The Big I Am, unusually, before I’d even seen it.  Said article acts in the same way a friend of mine does who produces rap records.  Before he’ll press play, he’ll come at you from every angle pre-empting every criticism and he’ll proceed to give you your opinion before you’ve even had a chance to form it.  No matter how you view or listen to it, you’ve already heard the excuses that you have to take into account rather than just enjoy it as a song or a film.  So like I aim to do in future, I’ll avoid reading articles in advance and I’ll tell my rapping friend to just shut up and press play.  Background info may just be the killer of an informed and honest interview.  Things have been published about this film that rarely come to light in the public arena and it plays out like a nightmare.  One-time Hollywood Hot-Shot, Michael Madsen (FREE WILLY)  is painted as a difficult lunatic and Phil Davis as a moaner.  It’s so obvious on viewing, that Robert Fucilla (SHANK) added his Zelig like scenes to little effect to justify his production credit. As viewers do we need this info?  It’s certainly difficult to switch off and watch this as a movie. Anyway, read the article to expand on the story. Or watch The Big I Am first.

Leo Gregory (THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY) plays a low level criminal, Mickey Skinner who owes a lot of money to another local crim, Milo,  played by Matthew Harvey (ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN). Whilst on the run from a botched break in, he steals a car that happens to have big time crime lord, Barber (VINCENT REGAN – LOCKOUT) tied up in the boot. He has essentially ruined a coup by rival Stubbs (PHIL DAVIS – JUST FOR THE RECORD).  Skinner and Barber forge a tenuous bond because the latter can see the former’s hunger.  Barber pays Skinners debts if he’ll look after his affairs whilst he gets put in prison over a crucial 24 hour period.  Robert Fucilla casts himself as Barber’s lead lieutenant, who is at Skinner’s disposal.  Whilst, Barber is in jail, local club owner Martell (MICHEAL MADSEN) teams up with Barber’s treacherous femme fatale, Liza (BEATRICE ROSEN – 2012) to steal the contents of his safe.  Skinner rises to the task of solving his own problems with Milo, keeping Stubbs at bay, seducing Barber’s girl and almost failing to rumble Martell’s plan.  So far so convoluted.  The running time is also padded out like I said with half a dozen dumb and pointless scenes for Fucilla’s own vanity.  They’d stick out like a sore thumb anyway, even without knowing what we know.

The film shambles on competently enough, but it despite a bit of plot chicanery The Big I Am is just another gangster film.  There’s no smart dialogue no sympathetic characters.  We don’t really get a feel for Skinner to cheer him one when he begins to get used his “masters shoes”.  It’s probably a career worst for Vincent Regan who just has to snarl the word “c*nt” a lot.  Michael Madsen does his ‘aw-shucks’ shy routine, but it’s looking tired now.  He’s definitely the worst thing about this movie. Although, Terry Stone  (BONDED BY BLOOD) (who I suspect bailed Fucilla & co out when the film went over budget in exchange for a cameo) turns up as a Russian gangster. His accent is really bad. Hahaha. But at least it gave me something to engage with. Bad or good, I can always rely on Terry Stone to brighten my film watching day up. Career worse here too though, but I’m not sure I should count it, seeing as he might be doing his friends a favour.  The rest of the cast are OK, even Fucilla. But its a far cry from memorable.  It’s just dull in every way. Even another wall-paper curling cameo by Steven Berkoff (DEAD CERT) comes along too late.

3.5 out of 10 – Ordinary beyond words.  Robert Fucilla‘s vanity project narrowly avoids being terrible because the story gives each actor a chance to shine a bit. These are very well worn streets though.

JOE PESCI II’s review below!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “THE BIG I AM

  1. JOE PESCI II’S REVIEW

    THE BIG I AM

    Now, elsewhere on this site is an article describing the painful birth of THE BIG I AM. Let us set that aside for now, though do read it, as the article is more entertaining than the film.

    THE BIG I AM has a rather nice idea at its heart, two ideas in fact. The first is a coincidence. Now, being one of those people who believe MAGNOLIA to be one of the greatest films ever made, I don’t have a problem with coincidence, and the one in this film is rather good as a ne’er-do-well finds a getaway vehicle only to discover that its boot is occupied by a gangland boss. The other nice idea, though one which doesn’t really come off, is the idea that our protagonist (Leo Gregory – I like him, he’s an unlikely leading man but a decent actor who might just do well for himself if he can avoid films like this) rises overnight from petty criminal to kingpin.

    The problem with the film is… well, where do I begin? Well, it’s gangsters in London again. Philip Davis wants rid of Vincent Regan, who wants rid of everyone. Meanwhile Michael Madsen is in cahoots with Regan’s young lady friend (Beatrice Rosen) though I never really worked out why, other than that everyone is trying to pull the wool over someone else’s eyes. Anyway Leo Gregory (playing Mickey – a name which is surely meant to bestow a kind of laddish likeability to its bearer) bumbles into this turf war and sets everything askew. Maybe the film’s downfall is that Mickey finds it quite easy to fit in, and thrives on playing everyone off against each other. That this causes (admittedly dramatically clunky) danger to his family doesn’t really seem to bother him.

    As Mickey runs about doing errands and worming his way into his psychotic boss’s good books (and into his boss’s girlfriend’s bed you will be astonished to learn), he encounters a plethora of badly used actors. Here’s Paul Kaye turning up for a zany and unfunny cameo, and Steven Berkoff as a sort of pimp / ringmaster / gameshow host. Please will someone just give him the money he needs for his next theatre show! Billy Murray surprises by his absence. And there’s Bronagh Gallagher turning up as the moral conscience. Things liven up when Terry Stone turns up with a comedy Russian accent for an all too brief cameo.

    Ultimately though, the film seems to go on forever, and we aren’t given enough to worry about. Will Mickey make it? Do we really want him to? After all, he hasn’t just got himself mixed up in some dreary territorial dispute. No, this week our gangsters are into smuggling women into prostitution. Actually, this reveal works rather well (we’re meant to assume that they’re probably drug dealers). But I’m quite an old-fashioned moralist and, well, I don’t particularly want our moderately likeable hero to become a successful drug lord, so obviously I’m even less keen on him becoming a successful pimp. But I think the film wants us to see the kid succeed. Although Leo Gregory is watchable, he is undermined by the script which makes him too competent. He is meant to be a small-time crook hurled into a vortex of actions beyond his control. But he just puts on a comically ill-fitting suit and soon has everyone running round after him. ‘Have you got what it takes to be the big I am?’ snarls his boss (or something like that) and the answer is ‘yes, it’s really easy once I’ve got me new suit.’

    Psycho boss is played by poor old Vincent Rgean. We know he’s a nasty piece of work because he keeps calling people ‘c**t’ for no apparent reason. After a while his protégé starts following suit. I don’t think it’s meant to be funny. We also know he’s really tough because he’s a Celt. At first I thought ‘I’d forgotten Vincent Regan was Irish – it’s nice to hear him with his own accent’ then I realised he was meant to be Scottish. My ignorance or Regan’s voice coach: who’s to blame?

    As his arch-enemy Philip Davis stalks through the film like a malevolent stick insect (but not as thin). He doesn’t really get much to do except shoot a few people and snarl a bit.

    The third member of this triumvirate of terror is a Hollywood import, who I hope was exported back pretty swiftly. Michael Madsen delivers a weird performance. No wonder he’s laboured for twenty years in obscurity if this is the sort of thing he turns in. It’s like he’s watched THE SOPRANOS and decided to out-Gandolfini James Gandolfini but without the charm or ability.

    But let us turn finally to city whiz-kid turned thespian Robert Fucilla. Now, I don’t want to bitterly bemoan a young man chasing his dream. Good luck to the fellow, I say. But I also say, if you’ve found yourself shunted off into a bit-part role (even in a film you’re producing), you might as well accept it. Apparently Mr Fucilla, desperate to appear in his own film (and who could blame him?) had a number of extra scenes filmed just to give him something to do, a bit like when the producer of CALIGULA crept onto the set of that infamous folly at dead of night equipped only with a camera and some porn stars without letting the director know what he was up to. Anyway, Fucilla’s bonus scenes drag the film out just as it looks like we’re nearly finished (he is better here than in PIMP though). Any unwitting viewer might wonder why the film’s focus has briefly switched to him. Said viewer might also wonder why there’s a portly naked man running around. The finale in the brothel is frankly odd, but makes a change from the standard gunfight we might have expected. (Though we get one of those too.)

    THE BIG I AM is a thin, cynical, cheap film, without much to recommend it. At a crucial moment our hero apologises with money; an apology which is accepted. It’s all just a bit dumb and average, but enlivened by its own off-screen dramas.

    3.5 OUT OF 10

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