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Film / Big Nothing

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"My name is Charlie Wood...I think I made a big mistake..."
Prologue of the Movie

Big Nothing is a 2006 British Black Comedy, directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea and starring David Schwimmer and Simon Pegg.

The story tells us about the former-teacher named Charlie Wood who got fired from the first day from his new job as a Call-Center Employee. Eventually one of his colleagues on the call-center, Gus Dickinson, suggested an idea to Charlie that they will try to blackmail a priest who happens to be listed in the company database of visitors to illegal porn websites so that they could get some extra money. Along with the help of Gus' companion, Josie, they began to execute the plan. However, when Gus tries to retrieve the money from the Reverend's house, things go downhill from there as the Reverend turns out to have a gun and Gus accidentally kills him. As a result, Gus, Charlie and Josie tried to cover up the tracks of their actions.

Big Nothing provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Charlie accidentally kills the fake reverend by disposing of his body to a nearby septic-tank.
  • All for Nothing: Combined with Shoot the Shaggy Dog story. Gus's plan of blackmailing a person in order to retrieve a huge sum of money failed big time for the protagonists. This also matches perfectly with the movie title itself.
  • Anyone Can Die: Some of the major characters died in this movie such as Gus and Charlie near the end of the film. And so does the minor or supporting role characters such as the reverend, the reverend's wife, the Reverend's wife second lover, the Deputy and the Special Agent.
  • Black Comedy: The film has moments filled with this, such as Charlie getting fired after pranking the customers, Gus getting his face punched after he has sex with Josie, Charlie's reaction after he sees a snuff-film that makes him vomit and so on.
  • Blackmail: The initial plan. As Gus, Charlie and Josie tried to blackmail a reverend could in order to gain a huge sum of money.
  • Brain Bleach: When Charlie sees a video about the real reverend mutilating someone with a chainsaw for his snuff-film, he screams "HOLY MOLY!" and proceeds to puke.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: It was revealed that the reverend left a suitcase full of money that is estimated around 2 million dollars in his oven thanks to his snuff-filming business.
  • Cement Shoes: When the fake reverend was knocked unconscious by Gus after he shoot him in the leg, Charlie tries to dispose his body by tying a lawn gnome on him and throw his body at a nearby septic tank.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Although it retains its humor, the movie suddenly becomes darker after the reverend tries to shoot Gus when the latter tries to retrieve the money from him.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The real reverend tortures his victims by threatening to stab them in the throat for his own snuff-film.
  • Con Artist: Gus is revealed to be an aspiring con-artist. However, he fails because some of the characters such as Charlie see through his lies easily.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Charlie tries to repent for his crimes by turning himself in to the police and confessing what he had done after he and his friends made a huge mess with their plans. Much to the latter's disappointment.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Charlie tries to lie to a local deputy by saying that the reverend's home is his own home and by saying that his name is Stephen. When the deputy notices some blood on the floor, Charlie then takes knife and slices himself and tells the policeman that he cut himself on a vase. The deputy could notice the holes of Charlie's cover-up story, but since he is rather oblivious, he easily dismisses it.
  • Crime After Crime: Gus convinces Charlie that nothing will go wrong with their plan to blackmail a local reverend. However, something quite unexpected happen and as a result, Gus and Charlie commits other crimes such as murder in order to cover up their tracks.
  • Death by Falling Over: How the deputy died. When he tries to escape from the toilet through a window, he accidentally slips and breaks his skull on the toilet because he is drunk.
  • Destroy the Evidence: More like throwing the evidence away. After Charlie's wife, Penelope, accidentally discovers the badge from the officer who was murdered by Charlie and his friends, she decides to throw the evidence on a nearby bridge.
  • Dirty Cop: Combined with Fat Bastard. It was revealed that Agent Hymnes tries to steal the money and kills Gus by shooting him twice because his lack of payment.
  • Disposing of a Body: When Charlie kills the fake reverend, he throws the body on a nearby septic-tank. It is also revealed that they accidentally killed the deputy and the reverend's wife once they got found out. To this end, they dispose of their bodies in a nearby disposal point the first time and a tar pit the second time when they almost get found out. When Charlie and Josie kill the special agent, they also dispose his body in a nearby tar-pit.
  • Downer Ending: Although Charlie's daughter is seen to be happy at the end after he got all the money, Charlie dies after drinking the poisonous whiskey that the Wyoming Widow mixed with thallium on her second flask. And even if the Wyoming Widow is seemingly defeated because Charlie tricks her by replacing the real money with his daughter's stuffed animals, at the end of the film she gets away with everything with the Oregon undertaker who resumes their serial-killing business again.
  • Encyclopaedic Knowledge: Charlie has a habit of reeling off random facts from his head. It's because of the neurological disorder that he has and his mind will eventually become blank if he doesn't memorize things. The disorder is also the reason why he got fired from the teaching position.
  • Epic Fail: Combined with Shoot the Shaggy Dog. Gus's plans to retrieve the money after blackmailing someone ends up with people, including him and his companion Charlie, getting killed left and right accidentally thanks to their actions. Averted with Charlie, as he's the only one who gets the money, by swapping it with his daughter's stuffed animals for the Wyoming Widow who was supposed to take the money.
  • Family Man: Charlie truly cares about his wife and daughter. The reason why he ended up following Gus's plans is because he wants to support his own daughter.
  • Fat Bastard: Agent Hymnes is a fat person who kills Gus so that he can obtain the money for himself.
  • Femme Fatale: Make no mistake, it was revealed that at the end of the day, Josie is the real Wyoming Widow. She has a penchant for killing her victims by seducing them at first and killing them by making them drink whiskey mixed with highly-concentrated thallium.
  • Firing Day: Charlie gets fired from the first day as a call-center employee after getting several complaints from customers.
  • Foreshadowing: Josie tries to force the deputy to drink more alcohol when he gets taken as a hostage by Charlie, Gus and her. It indicates that she is the Wyoming Widow, as the serial killer herself kills her victims by forcing them to drink whiskey mixed with a lethal poison.
  • From Bad to Worse: Initially, Gus and Charlie were supposed to blackmailing a priest so that they could extort a lot of money. However, it takes turn for the worse as when Gus tried to retrieve the money, the Reverend tries to shoot him. As a result, they're nearly got caught by a nearby deputy who tried to inspect the Reverend's home and a lot of people were dying right and left thanks to their actions.
  • Gambit Pile Up: Gus came with a very complicated plan when it comes to blackmailing a reverend. In order to retrieve a quick buck: First, he and Charlie blackmail the reverend and after he got blackmailed, Gus will go into his house and retrieve the money while he asks his friend Charlie to wait in the cafe. After Gus got the money, he then went into the gas station that is owned by a blind man and then put the money in a locker. And lastly, he calls Charlie to retrieve the money in the gas station. Needless to say, after their plan failed and they accidentally killed a deputy and the reverend's wife. One of Gus's companion, Josie, came with a complicated plan to dispose of their dead bodies. However, both of Charlie and Gus rejects her plans.
  • I Lied: It is revealed that Gus lied to Charlie when he said that he has a daughter that needs a retina operation.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Agent Hymnes doesn't take it lightly when someone, such as Gus, calls him fat.
  • Karma Houdini: Both the Wyoming Widow and the Oregon Undertaker get away with their crimes. It is implied that both of them will continue their murder spree.
  • Living MacGuffin: The reverend is Gus, Charlie and Josie's blackmailing target in order to get the huge sum of money. He is basically the character who kickstarts the plot of the movie.
  • MacGuffin: The money that Charlie, Gus and Josie stole and the dead bodies of the people that they're murdered are essentially the things that keeps the plot going.
  • Malevolent Mutilation:
    • How the Oregon Undertaker kills his victims. After he kills them, he mutilates them horribly.
    • When the real reverend fails to make a snuff-film that he wanted and the actress is left laughing, he kills her with a shotgun and mutilates her body with a chainsaw.
  • Master Poisoner: The Wyoming Widow can make a deadly poison by mixing a whiskey with high-concentrated thallium.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Charlie's reaction after he and Josie kill special agent, Chester Hymnes, by feeding him a lollipop, to the point that he remarks on what monsters they have become.
  • Pedophile Priest: Needless to say, the real reverend that Charlie, Gus, and Josie wanted to blackmail is revealed to be a snuff filmer who targets young girls and tortures them for his own movie. One instance of his nasty act is that he tried to torture a girl by trying to slit her throat or carving her face. However, when said girl is just laughing at the Reverend, he shoots her and then mutilates her body with a chainsaw.
  • Perfect Poison: This is Wyoming Widow's favorite MO. She kills her victims by mixing whiskey with highly concentrated thallium and letting her victims drink said whiskey after she seduces them.
  • Posthumous Narration: Although Charlie was supposed to die at the end of the movie, he narrates the beginning of the story about how he met Gus and how he ended up in this mess in the first place.
  • Serial Killer: Several characters such as the Wyoming Widow and the Oregon Undertaker are these. The Wyoming Widow kills her victims by befriending them and kills them with a whiskey mixed with highly concentrated thallium while the Oregon Undertaker mutilates his victims after he murdered them.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: All of the hardships and the suffering that Charlie and Gus went through just for blackmailing a person went for naught as they died at the end of the film. The real criminal, who happens to be one of Charlie's companions, gets away with everything. Averted with Charlie's case as despite he dies on the Wyoming Widow's hands after drinking the poisonous whiskey mixed with thallium, he manages to trick her by swapping the briefcase that contains real money with his daughter's stuffed animals.
  • Snuff Film: It was revealed that the real reverend is involved in snuff filming business by targeting young women and then proceeds to torture them by threatening them to slit their throat and when one of them defies him, he proceeds to kill them and mutilate their body with a chainsaw. His snuff films earn him a lot of money that is estimated around 2 million dollars.
  • Tap on the Head: It is revealed that the fake reverend was knocked unconscious by Gus. However, Charlie accidentally murders the reverend by throwing his body into a nearby septic-tank. When both the deputy and Charlie try to open the septic-tank, Gus smashes a vase against the head of the deputy, who is promptly dragged inside while still unconscious.
  • Tragic Mistake: As Charlie says in the prologue, he made a big mistake after he joined in Gus's schemes in order to gain a quick buck.
  • Undignified Death: Charlie and Josie force Special Agent Hymnes to eat a large sugary lollipop which is dangerous due to his diabetes. Hymnes pleads for his life after his diabetes meter gets overloaded and he is killed by his own diabetes.
  • Villain Protagonist: Charlie, Gus and Josie are basically this, considering that they tried to blackmail the reverend in order to retrieve a huge sum of money. They also killed some people and disposed of their bodies when their plan of blackmailing the reverend failed big time.