Big Ass Spider! (2013)
AKA Mega Spider.
There are many movies that I watch that start with a bit of an advantage. If the film is about zombies then I will hope for the best. If the film is about sharks then I will hope for the best, and expect the worst. If the film is about enlarged, mutated killer beasties then I will expect good fun. And if the movie title ends with an exclamation mark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . it has the potential to be delirious entertainment. Big Ass Spider! (AKA Mega Spider) is about an enlarged, mutated killer beastie AND has a title that ends with an exclamation mark. I’m happy to report that it’s deliriously good fun.
Director Mike Mendez, working from the script by Gregory Gieras, doesn’t care about his comparatively limited budget or the ridiculousness of anything being thrown onscreen. All he cares about is wringing laughs from every scene and having fun with the whole premise (more so, arguably, in the first third of the movie before the titular arachnid becomes so big that all tension is replaced with energy and added ridiculousness).
Greg Grunberg stars as Alex Mathis, the pest exterminator who finds himself chasing his biggest “prize” yet when the super-sized spider gets loose in Los Angeles. He soon clashes with the military trying to take over the situation (led by Ray Wise), but also tries to impress an attractive soldier (Clare Kramer) he takes quite a shine to. Alex is a fun character to tag along with, like a sweeter and slightly simpler version of John Goodman’s character from Arachnophobia, but the film steps up a level and becomes a laugh-a-minute when he gains a partner in the shape of the enthusiastic and likeable Jose Ramos.
It may be a step up from the many Asylum creature features, but don’t go into this expecting perfect VFX and anything that might even accidentally swerve within touching distance of believability. But are these things required in a film entitled Big Ass Spider! that does exactly what it sets out to do? Mike Mendez and Gregory Gieras clearly don’t think so, and I’m happy to say that most of the audience members in the screening I attended would happily agree.
The acting isn’t great, but it works for the material. Grunberg and Boyar may well be the best double act of the year, while Ray Wise looks like someone who could be in charge and bark sternly at people, Patrick Bauchau looks like someone able to discuss the increasing danger of the situation and Clare Kramer is able to win over most people, despite being given less to work with (a common problem with the standard potential love interest character).
Despite the limitations, the fact that Mendez doesn’t fear putting the big ass spider front and centre whenever possible makes this a real treat for fans of the big bug sub-genre, while the central pairing of Grunberg and Boyar makes it a real treat for fans of comedy, with plenty of big laughs from start to finish. Many people will end up rating this as a great guilty pleasure. I don’t have much guilt when it comes to my viewing choices, which is why I rate this as simply a great way to spend 85 minutes.
DIRECTOR: MIKE MENDEZ
WRITER: GREGORY GIERAS
STARS: GREG GRUNBERG, CLARE KRAMER, RAY WISE, LOMBARDO BOYAR, PATRICK BAUCHAU, LIN SHAYE
RUNTIME: 85 MINS APPROX