Big Gold Brick, 2022.
Written and Directed by Brian Petsos.
Starring Andy García, Emory Cohen, Megan Fox, Lucy Hale, Oscar Isaac, Shiloh Fernandez, Frederick Schmidt, Leonidas Castrounis, Alys Crocker, Rebecca Amzallag, Tim Rock, and Andy Yu.
Recounts the story of fledgling writer Samuel Liston and his experiences with Floyd Deveraux, the enigmatic, middle-aged father of two who enlists Samuel to write his biography. But the circumstances that lead up to this arrangement in the first place are quite astonishing-and efforts to write the biography are quickly stymied by ensuing chaos.
The worst sin a movie can commit is boredom. This line of work is not done inside a vacuum, so it is worthwhile to admit I’m on a streak of watching some bad movies, but as horrible as some of them were, at least they were trainwrecks that granted me an opportunity to get passionately vocal about my intense dislike for them. Big Gold Brick (which comes courtesy of writer and director Brian Petsos) lumbers through a tale that’s nowhere near as wacky as it desperately wants you to believe throughout every second of its bloated 2+ hour running time (and my god, do you feel every second of it), while frequently coming across as confused and irritating.
Emory Cohen is Samuel, a successful writer in the present day participating in a promotional book tour for his biography on successful businessman Floyd (a performance from Andy Garcia that could have benefited from breaking into unhinged Al Pacino territory like he consistently teases doing). As Samuel reads passages from the book, Big Gold Brick flashes back to that stage in both of these people’s lives, as their story is intertwined. Following a rough stretch of bad luck (dead parents, relationship woes, elevated self-pity, severe depression, and not much of an optimistic outlook on life), Samuel stumbles into a fortune in an unlikely way; his intoxicated, mumbling, walking body is hit by a car.
The driver turns out to be Floyd, who researches a hospitalized Samuel and concludes that he would be a suitable fit for penning a biographical portrait. Samuel regularly has trouble paying rent and incidentally has already fled home, so it makes sense to hire him for the job in return for cash and lavish living arrangements. Floyd brings Samuel to his spacious abode upon being released from the hospital. He introduces them to the family, which consists of an unfaithful wife named Jacqueline played by Megan Fox (remember, Samuel is also occasionally narrating, so certain pieces of knowledge are divulged from the get-go), an arsonist metalhead son Edward (Leonidas Castrounis), and a daughter from a previous marriage, the once upon a time musician prodigy turned recovering coke fiend Lily (Lucy Hale, also functioning as a barely developed love interest both in terms of her character and the dynamic itself).
Samuel is also experiencing hallucinations in the form of talking inanimate objects, nightmares involving poorly constructed demons, physical pain from the accident, and warped visual perspectives. This is on top of his eccentric, man-baby persona, which, when combined, forces Emory Cohen to give an overstated performance that rings phony. He fares better during the present-day scenes where his appearance and conduct are professional, but most will just be wondering how Samuel turned everything around so dramatically.
As Floyd takes the young man under his wing, it’s also intentionally made apparent that he has ulterior motives. He fabricates aspects of his life, pays people off to have Samuel thinking and believing certain things, and in one of the strangest subplots I’m not sure I entirely understand (mainly because this movie is a rambling mess), somehow has a grown man playing school basketball for his benefit. Meanwhile, Samuel resists sexual attraction from Jacqueline (the entire purpose of Megan Fox’s character is shallow and insultingly written), awkwardly makes flirtatious conversation with Lili, and conducts various interviews with Floyd to get a feel for an approach to the biography.
None of this is remotely compelling, tediously dragging along until the obvious is revealed regarding Floyd’s criminal past. The bad news is that this takes about 100 minutes to occur. Still, the good news is that Oscar Isaac shows up as a quirky career criminal doing… some idiosyncratic performance that is better left seen than explained. Big Gold Brick is absolutely not worth watching, but Oscar Isaacs’s line delivery of “rob a bank” should be looked up online, guarded, and treasured.
These last 30 minutes are somewhat nutty to the film’s credit and are likely what Brian Petsos hoped to sustain for 2+ hours, which is not possible with this script. Even with its current running time, characters are one-dimensional, with a story rarely offering a reason to care (especially since this doesn’t seem to be based on a true story like the presentation might lead someone to believe). Big Gold Brick is a big old stinker.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com