Friday, April 1, 2011

More Top Films: Big Trouble in Little China

In typical storytelling, the hero is our focus. Even when our story is told from the point of view of a side-kick, the hero is the person we want to be. In “Big Trouble,” we have a side kick for a hero. Jack Burton is a loud-talking, out-of-his-element, good-old-boy. Some have said that he is a stand-in for America sticking its nose into international affairs where it doesn’t belong. That may be the case, but he is a well intentioned and loyal friend who really does try to help the situation. In the end, despite all of his bumbling and incompetence, with all of his cultural ignorance and naïveté, he does help.

Part of the appeal of this movie is the exoticism. At the start of the film, we hear some of Burton’s philosophy as he broadcasts bluster to no one in particular. He claims to have been around, but one begins to doubt that as the adventure increases. What he does have going for him is that he doesn’t let the culture shock overwhelm him. He absorbs what he is told and rolls with the punches. Also, he is surrounded and led by a lot of capable cultural experts.

Of course, the main appeal is the fun. Sure, it is often silly. It is full of ghosts, monsters and magic. Most adventures of the genre are. This is a good vs. evil story without much in the way of stakes, but it is entertaining, exciting, and funny. Good enough for a guilty pleasure anyway.

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