Seen: At the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, part of the Boston Underground Film Festival.
With a title like Big Ass Spider! it’s hard not to giggle, and luckily it turns out this movie has a bit more to offer than just a silly name. Our story begins with exterminator extraordinaire Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg), who lands in the emergency room after a spider bite and soon finds himself hired by the hospital to track down a gigantic spider that’s attacked a coroner. He teams up with security guard Jose (Lombardo Boyar) to catch the beast but in short time the government steps in, led by Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise). Turns out the ever-growing spider is a secret science project gone wrong, and Alex lends his insider arachnid knowledge to the military as best he can, especially after falling for cute a Lieutenant named Karly (Clare Kramer). But the situation quickly turns desperate as the spider feeds on a number of unsuspecting civilians and starts tearing up Los Angeles.
Big Ass Spider! is as goofy and b-grade as the title suggests, but I think that’s pretty much the point. With Greg Grunberg cracking jokes and becoming an unlikely hero, Ray Wise yelling at all these whippersnappers who can’t deal with this crisis, and a giant spider just scuttling about being gross, it’s an entertaining time. The script isn’t anything radical, but the dialogue is funny and there are a lot of good digs at the mega-monster genre, like the protagonists being totally bored by the science-y expository speech of the monster’s origin. Grunberg is strong in the lead role, but the stand-out performer is definitely Lombardo Boyer as the enthusiastic but terrified Jose, with his excellent comedic timing and adorable personality.
The effects- while awesomely gory- are bad but not bad enough to be funny or self-aware, and there’s some weird casually racist remarks from Grunberg’s character in his interactions with Jose- like, I get that these are silly, exaggerated exchanges but it was inappropriate for Alex to be commenting on Jose’s Latino ethnicity almost immediately upon meeting him, I felt. BUT for the most part Big Ass Spider! is an enjoyable, fun film.
Pair This Movie With: BUFF compares it to Ghostbusters and I think that’s a good pairing.by