Ain't it always the way? You wait three years for a Barry Sonnenfeld movie and then two arrive at once. Delayed because one of its subplots (a bomb smuggled onto a plane) plunged it into post-11 September panic, Big Trouble arrives on the coattails of Men In Black II, but this is a smaller, funnier affair akin to the director's ace Elmore Leonard adaptation Get Shorty.
Hinging on the attempts of depressed divorcee Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) to win the respect of his son (Ben Foster), the story expands to include cops, mobsters, hitmen and thugs. Slipping on the Shorty-sized, ensemble-com shoes is clearly easier for Sonnenfeld than the clunky, over-sized boots of big-budget sci-fi action (for all its alien trappings, Men In Black was a short, stylised buddy pic). Cannily loading his latest with actors who have a flair for laughs instead of comedians trying out acting, he delivers a swift, polished comedy. Yes, the opening's exposition heavy. And granted, the hefty ensemble (15, not counting the support cast) means that one or two cast members are limited to basic narrative driving (hello Rene Russo), while even the standout turns aren't always given their due (Janeane Garofalo). But don't let those minor quibbles put you off - this will still provide plenty of exercise for the laugh-muscles. And after last year's batch of stinkers, they could use a workout.