Big Night - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Big Night Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2006
A really fun movie. This movie in itself is like a party.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ November 11, 2011
9.4/10

I love food. I love Italians. Lastly, I also love New Jersey, especially the shore area; mind the parts popularized by MTV's trashy television series "Jersey Shore". Given how I am profoundly fond of all three things; it's no wonder that the 1996 food flick "Big Night" is like my wet dream come true. It takes a lot of things that I like and quite a few aspects of life that I love and puts them into a true cinematic treat; one of the best movies about food ever to be made. I suppose it has had its share of imitators, and this shall continue so long as Hollywood is granted entry into realms once thought untouched and forbidden to their kind; but this is a rather glorious night, and it's certainly one to cherish and remember.

What makes "Big Night" a great film is the fact that it understands something oh-so-very-valuable: the difference between a good food movie and a great one. To make a good one, the food is a given, and you need to also supply likable characters and locations to boot. But if you are, on the contrary, intent on making something that the audience - or at least a good share of those within it - shall remember long after the movie has run its course, then much more must be done. You must use food as a metaphor, and believe me, that is what "Big Night" does. To the simple-minded folks, it IS a film about food and people who make it. For me, a big emphasis is put on the "people who make it"; as this is a very human drama that works as a compelling study of both its central characters and the times that they live in. It makes some very intelligent and relatable commentary on today's world as far as foreign cuisine goes; food is a part of our culture, and a part of most other cultures too. We must never allow ourselves to detach from it; and it's movies like this one that remind us of the role that food plays in all of our individual lives.

Two Italian brothers, cutely named Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci), reside off the shore of New Jersey; where they run a self-owned restaurant called "Paradise". Business isn't exactly booming; each night brings in different people, and not in large surplus. The larger restaurant across the street, run by family friend Pascal (Ian Holm), is enjoying a far greater amount of success than that of Primo and Secondo. In fact, their restaurant is so unpopular, and is bringing in so little amounts of money, that the bank insists on putting them out of the job. This is oh-so-very sad, because both Primo and his brother Secondo believe that what they conjure up in the kitchen is REAL, authentic Italian food; while all that is served on the opposite side of the street is Americanized, but therefore, more appealing to the general public.

Now, I've had my fair share of both real Italian cuisine and "Americanized" Italian cuisine. In a way, I appreciate them both; the former, perhaps, a good deal more than the latter. Italian food that is real and fresh is made with passion; and as a food lover (and a lover of many other things as well), I respect and appreciate that. If I go to a restaurant that presents itself in a fancy matter, I want food that is real; especially when it's one ran by those damned talented Italians.

While that last paragraph was a pleasant sidetrack, I think it's time I got back to the story. The brothers are given one last chance - one last night - to impress the masses with their promised and supposed "skill". This night shall determine everything from their future to their talent (as cooks) to their emotional wits. Before we know it, the night is upon them/us; the drinks are flowing, the food is cooking, eventually to be devoured, and we wait in anticipation just as the many guests do.

When dinner is finally served, we get something more than we would expect. Initially, I was hoping for this final meal to be admirably over-directed and spiked with artistic influence, but it was when it finally started to unfold that I understood the truth; "Big Night" is indeed about the grand meal, but not about the food. It's about the emotional core that each real human being there perhaps unwillingly strips bear; Primo and Secondo among others show their true selves in the film's closing scenes, which are flawlessly staged.

There's also a great deal spoken regarding women. The female characters of the film serve a large purpose in its story; they open doors for deception, seduction, and perhaps biggest of all, pure distraction. Secondo seems to be the only one, out of the two brothers who thinks he is in love; he has a girlfriend, yet he cheats on her by sleeping with his competitor's beautiful wife. Primo, on the other hand, does not seek love but more-or-less finds it in an attractive florist; who seems to like him back just fine.

The film is very human in nature; with some themes that are genuinely thought-provoking and surprisingly true to life. The food looks absolutely delicious whenever it is shown, and the stars are an attractive lot, but they should not distract from the core messages and thematic elements of "Big Night"; and there are truly too many to count. It is an overall wonderful and pleasant viewing experience that closely studies the relationships of brotherhood, the temptations of life, and dedication in the business world. It's a rare and great work of art that desires to entertain; and does just that, but unlike so many films, it doesn't have to sacrifice a well-told story and instantly lovable characters to do so. All ingredients combined; I'd say it makes for a rather splendid banquet of good cinema, good people, and good food.
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2007
The greatest film about food to come out of the U.S. Tucci is brilliant in his pet project.
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2009
Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as Italian brothers running a restaurant should be a recipe for wit, comedy, and great drama. Sadly, when you bite into it, there's nothing but air. Likeable, but nothing special.
Super Reviewer
½ July 19, 2011
This is a really charming little food movie, about a pair of Italian brothers trying to make it in the restaurant business. In a last-ditch effort to save their business, they make a mega meal for a celebrity with the hope of receiving a public endorsement.

Tucci and Shalhoub do a great job as the quirky brothers.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2010
Just great! I'd been meaning to see this for a few years but wow. Such a great story and such a great cast. It really feels like you are with them on this big night for the restaurant.
August 6, 2014
There is a soft in my heart, or perhaps my belly, for this film. Everything about is great. The story is sweet and charming. The music and the soundtrack are fantastic and memorable. The food looks amazing. The script along with the performances by Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci are pitch perfect. A very, very underrated film.
July 10, 2014
As I've found out, I'm not particularly fond of foodie movies, especially when the food really dominates the movie, like here.
½ May 18, 2014
i am glad i decided to watch this, it was funny and had a great message that gets across eventually..oh yea and the food looked awesome.
December 28, 2013
Good movie, but nothing spectacular. Worth renting if you like this kind of movie. You'll probably enjoy this flick. =I
June 9, 2013
Just a super-sweet, personal, more-play-than-movie that in using Fellini-type party scenes draws great banter, sadness, and ultimately a sense of togetherness from its characters. Tony Shalhoub and Ian Holm chew scenery like motherfuckers.
½ June 4, 2013
A great story about two brothers trying to keep up their restaurant in the 1950s. This film is really lead by it's performances, everyone was awesome and the accents were spot on. I'm not sure if they were actually Italian but still it was awesome. Big Night packs in tons of great humor and joy but adds some great drama through out. The story was very good, even at one scene when you see them cooking your mouth is watering at how good the food looks and you just wish you were at the table eating. I really enjoyed this movie, everyone was fantastic and really made you get attached to the characters. It has plenty of laughs and some drama too. It ends with a very powerful scene as well.
½ June 8, 2011
I'm a Foodie, so I loved this Movie.There is a Recipe in there I still Covet actually .Again we find ourselves pulling for the Underdog here in this film.I also have a fondness for the Actors in this Film, often thought of as Character Actors & Second Banana's. I often choose a Movie because Stanley Tucci, Minnie Driver,or Tony Shalhoub is in it , they are all underrated, as is this Film that makes you feel Italian for a Day(or night in this case).
June 10, 2011
It is delicious as those chefs cook in this movie. I know, we love foods and eating them, so do I, and I think to myself are these people gonna cook more great recipes from their hometown Italy. Well if you're hungry, then eat first, or else let's proceed to my review of Big Night.
Big Night, is indeed one of the best films I've seen about Italian brother relationships, great Italian dishes, romance between those 2 brothers and some woman, business booming, and what else, you've got it, pure entertainment that will make you more hungry and make you want to eat more. Well, it's mostly about how these 2 brothers will try to do anything and everything just to save their restaurant because they have not enough money to pay their business, so the younger brother seeks help from another restaurant owner to get tips and probably money, but instead that guy said his friend that is a famous singer will come to the restaurant of our main guys, and of course, many people will come and it will be a good pleasure for others to appreciate it since the food that the older brother cooks are damn delicious, so what happens, that singer NEVER came, that guy blackmailed those brothers, and at the end we could see more tensions to these people as to think whether it's a beautiful thing to stay or leave in America. And I forgot also, the performances, the story, directing are also damn perfect that you may watch it again for sure.
And again, I was never dissapointed by this movie, and it is as good as "Julie and Julia", although I prefer this one still because that's I would say a movie for ladies and this film for gentleman, JOKE! For everyone of course, this is a great film!!!!
June 6, 2011
Watched again for the first time in years (via Netflix), and I have to recommend this one to everyone I know. I LOVE this movie!
February 28, 2011
I thought this was a really charming movie, with some great characters and some laughs mixed in. I really enjoyed it.
½ November 30, 2010
Thoroughly delightful, with an excellent cast. The pacing is slow and thoughtful, and the final scene (and the film itself) is beautifully shot. You will leave this movie feeling like you were an intimate guest at the dinner party. Marc Anthony surprised me with his sweet, quiet, nuanced performance... and younger Stanley Tucci and Isabella Rossellini? *sigh*
October 21, 2010
A Fantastic Funny movie. My wife and enjoyed it greatly it made us hungry and made me realize i know nothing about cooking. Explicit language however- and sad sad ending! Still a movie you won't ever forget.
September 7, 2010
Big Night captures all the joy, sadness, fear, hurt and excitement of the last big night of owning and creating something of your own. The film feels like a giant party thrown by some very talented and charismatic friends, and it is in a way. Directors Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott are both accomplished actors, and have worked (and continue to work) with many of their co-stars here. Everyone is delightful, and both Tucci and Scott, working from Tucci's and Joseph Tropiano's script, don't milk the setup for something more than it is. Big Night feels like a slice of life, granted it's exquisite, dreamy film life, but everything that happens and the reasons why feel delightfully true.
June 9, 2010
"Big Night" is a great, understated dramedy about two Italian immigrants who love food. They came to America to open up a restaurant, but they find themselves in serious debt when their business starts to suffer. Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci are fantastic together. You really get the sense that these two men are real brothers. Directors Campbell Scott and Tucci do some smart things direction-wise. Roger Ebert noted this, and I'm inclined to agree. This movie is about many things, but it's mostly about food. So what do Scott and Tucci do? They show them making the food. The simple act of them making the food shows so much. You see their love, their passion, and their attention to detail just from this simple act alone. "Big Night" features a wonderful ensemble cast including the brilliant Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini, Allison Janney, and Minny Driver. If you're in the mood for a well-written dramedy, or if you're simply a lover of food, you must check out "Big Night".
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