The Big Easy

Critics Consensus

Loaded with atmosphere and drenched in the sizzling chemistry between Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin, The Big Easy remains one of the strongest -- and steamiest -- thrillers of the 1980s.



Reviews Counted: 35

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,882


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.3/5

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Movie Info

A film that captures the steamy, colorful essence of New Orleans, this crime thriller tells the romantic story of a classy detective whose investigation of a gangland murder lands him in trouble with the city's new District Attorney, a woman with a rigid penchant for following the letter of the law. Despite their differences, the two manage to work together and eventually fall in love. Unfortunately all of this leads them to have to fight for their lives when their investigation into the case and the corruption surrounding it gets them bumped up to the top of a hit man's list. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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Ellen Barkin
as Anne Osborne
Dennis Quaid
as Remy McSwain
Ned Beatty
as Jack Kellom
John Goodman
as Detective DeSoto
Lisa Jane Persky
as Detective McCabe
James Garrison
as Judge Noland
Carol Sutton
as Judge Raskov
Solomon Burke
as Daddy Mention
Jim Garrison
as Himself
David Petitjean
as Uncle Sal
Nick Hagler
as Hugh Dowling
Cary Alden
as Uniform Cop
Marc Lawrence
as `Cannon' Di Moti
Jim Chimento
as Freddy Angelo
Grace Zabriskie
as Mama, Remy's Mother
Steve Broussard
as Dewey Piersall
Eliott Keener
as George Joel
August Krinke
as I.A. Cop
John Schluter
as I.A. Cop
Gailard Sartain
as Chef Paul
Margie O'Dair
as Mugged Woman
Irma Thomas
as Marcelline
Edward St. Pe
as Patrolman
Robert Lesser
as "Silky" Foster
George Dureau
as Maitre d'
Robert Kearney
as Desk Sergeant
Archie Sampier
as Forensic #1
Byron Nora
as Car Vandal
Jeff Hollis
as Sgt. Duvivier
Joy N. Houck Jr
as Sgt. Guerra
Peter Gabb
as Proprietor
David Dahlgren
as Uniform Cop
Dewey Balfa
as Uncle Lafayette
Nik Hagler
as Hugh Dowling
Dennis Curren
as Cousin Terry
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News & Interviews for The Big Easy

Critic Reviews for The Big Easy

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (13)

  • Until conventional plot contrivances begin to spoil the fun, The Big Easy is a snappy, sassy battle of the sexes in the guise of a melodrama about police corruption.

    Jul 31, 2013 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The Big Easy is an extremely enjoyable (and well-lubricated) vehicle for two actors who aren't quite yet stars, but should be.

    Jul 31, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The Big Easy is as atmospheric as they come, but -- surprise! -- it's also sharp and swift. Plus, it has ample amounts of chemistry -- the steamy, sexy kind.

    Jul 31, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The film's strength is director Jim McBride's seemingly easy way of presenting us with a New Orleans that is more malevolent and intoxicating than the tourist trap that some think it to be.

    Jul 31, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's sleek, briskly paced, firmly controlled and shrewdly dosed with humor, action and romance.

    Jul 31, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Eventually the film's suspense underpinnings take over its personal story, yet that tension Quaid and Barkin generate still holds. Soldily fine as actors they're also a great pair, like two golden athletes.

    Oct 5, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Big Easy


Hoping for solid 80s film noir (such as the excellent Body Heat, and even Mindhunter), I instead got an unfocused film with a very uneven tone. Dennis Quaid is good, and the chemistry between him and Ellen Barkin works well, but the plot of the film is predictable and often borderline silly. Many other films have done the New Orleans atmosphere better, there's much more too it than clever humor and over-the-top accents. The film shifts from romance to mystery to drama, with no real sense of what came before or after it.

Jeffrey Meyers
Jeffrey Meyers

Super Reviewer

Like the synopsis on here says, this movie is more of a romance than a crime thriller or drama, they could have called it cops in love. I found the whole cop romance thing really boring, and the rest of the story even more boring.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


The Big Easy is an 80s noir set to the colourful backdrop of New Orleans in which Assistant District Attourney Ellen Barkin is sent to investigate police corruption only to be seduced by morally dubious detective and local lothario Dennis Quaid. The biggest weakness of The Big Easy is its over reliance on the afore-mentioned "local colour", which means that the film is wall to wall chicken bones, hillbilly music and bizarre accents (Grace Zabriskie in particular sounds like a rastafarian with special needs after a stroke). This fact combined with the workmanlike plot and gratuitous 80s pyrotechnics at the end conspire to make it feel like a made for TV pilot episode for "New Orleans Vice". What can be admired about the film however is the chemistry between the cast; Barkin's fiery girl next door paired with Quaid's believable turn as a man finally meeting a woman that makes him want to re-examine himself makes for a charming and sexy couple and the amusing squadroom antics make for a very likable set of characters. Very formulaic but it avoids the usual 80s macho excesses and is still an entertaining, if rather dated detective story.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


Although the whodunnit element is skimmed over pretty fast, the steamy Louisiana atmosphere and the steamy coupling of Quaid and Barkin make this one of the 1980's smartest, most attractive thrillers.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

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