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Strong cast can't keep 'Big Gold Brick' from sinking under its own weight

"Big Gold Brick" opens Feb. 25 in theaters and on demand. Photo courtesy Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Posted at 6:58 AM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 11:48:07-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "Big Gold Brick" has so much going for it that you feel bad for not managing to find your way into its flow.

Start with the excellent cast. You've got Andy Garcia in a scenery-chewing role, peak Oscar Isaac in a peppy bit part and femme fatale energy from Megan Fox and Lucy Hale.

The script and storytelling from writer/director Brian Petsos is lively and innovative, filled with little quirks and in-jokes that seem like Coen Bros. material. There's a sense of anything-goes style fun with the material.

But about at the midpoint, you stop waiting for the movie to come alive and begin to recognize that you're stuck in something of a slog. The only real suspense is how long it will take to get to the end of the zany-for-the-sake-of-zany misadventure.

The premise is solid. Emory Cohen plays fledgling writer Samuel Liston, who is nearly killed in a car wreck. Left in a state of mind that has him plagued with hallucinations, he stumbles on a project he believes could kickstart his career: Penning the biography of the conniving, boisterous Floyd Deveraux (Garcia).

Oscar Isaac checks in now and again to swipe scenes as the quirky, eyepatch-wearing side character, Anselm.

As Samuel quickly discovers, Floyd's story is still being written day by day, with wilder chapters continually piling on. Samuel draws the romantic interest of not only Floyd's second wife, Jacqueline (Fox), but that of Lily (Hale), his daughter from a previous marriage.

Because of the magical realism-tinged hallucination dynamic, everything and anything goes. The device works as a way for Petsos to flex his creativity, but also keeps the film from any sense of reliable grounding.

You fear that none of the intertwined plotlines are really going anywhere, and those hunches become all too well-founded.

As "Big Gold Brick" rolls on, adding layer upon layer of wild happenstance, you get the heavy sense that the film is just chasing its own tale, spinning you along for the dizzying ride. Like Samuel, you are caught up in the wild hayride, held hostage and unsure whether you can rely on your senses.

By the time the movie ends, your patience is spent and you're more than ready to move on, finding it all too easy to forget everything you've just seen.

RATING: 1.5 stars out of 4.

Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star, where he was a movie critic, columnist, and reporter. He has penned three books: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, Stormin' Mormon and Zeta Male. A University of Arizona business graduate, he has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing phil.villarreal@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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