The Big Kahuna
Directed by Kevin Spacey
Staring Danny Devito, Kevin Spacey, Peter Facinelli
Once you experience the thrill of a trade show hospitality suite, you’ll never go back to sex. Cheese balls, scotch whiskey, drunks away from mama and footloose in Wichita – you gotta live it, no one can explain it. Road warrior Phil (Devito) and that new kid Bob from research (Facinelli) stake out the primo 16th floor of the Wichita Hyatt. Their goal – winning the biggest industrial lubricant sale of their miserable careers. Larry (Spacey) blows in and immediately gives Bob a lesson in the locker room ethics of professional industrial sales. Bob’s a bit of a straight arrow Baptist, and his idea of a sales pitch involves discussing old dogs and Jesus H.C. with their pick customer. Larry has a fit, but Bob actually has a sound strategy and courts success while Phil and Larry wait in misery. It’s late, they’ve been drinking like salesman, and what’s to discuss but the Meaning of Life, God, and selling as a career? Sale closed? God resolved? Open questions, but they tossed little Bob off the cliff, and he soared.
What begins as a slightly off-color view into the secret life of salesmen evolves into a deep (by Hollywood standards) discussion of our epistemological questions. Unusual for any film, the main character is a fundamentalist Christian and isn’t treated like a fool or a lunatic – just a man with deeply help beliefs, beliefs that are as important to him as yours are to you. And he’s a natural salesman. Larry and Phil recognize that, and they show him the light. Whether it’s Christ and redemption or just 50-gallon drums of oil, it’s all salesmanship. When you’re on the company dime, you sell the company product. What you do on your own time is your business.