The Next Big Thing

The art world is abuzz over the work of Geoffrey Buonardi, a reclusive Vietnam veteran who is expressing his emotions through painting. The problem is that Buonardi does not exist, he is the alter ego of Gus Bishop (Chris Eigman, The Perfect You, The Last Days of Disco), an ordinary starving artist who cannot get a break. He has been trying to get galleries to show his work for years, but no one will give him a chance. Until Deech Scumble (Jamie Harris, Dinner Rush, Made) robs Bishop's apartment, steals one of his paintings, and hocks it to a gallery after creating the Buonardi persona. Scumble realizes that he has a potential cash cow on his hands, and contacts Bishop, who agrees to paint more under the Buonardi character. The Next Big Thing wants to be a satire on the superficiality of the art world, but because it goes on too many tangents, it never quite reaches that level.

Because Scumble, Bishop, and Walter Sznitken (Mike Starr, Tempted, 3 A.M.), a third conspirator, make Buonardi so unavailable, his mystique grows. His paintings are attracting press, publicity, and most important of all, money. As Buonardi's fame grows, Bishop's conscience begins to rear its ugly head. He also wants people, especially critic Kate Crowley (Connie Britton, One Eyed King, No Looking Back), to realize that he is the one painting the pictures. His girlfriend (Marin Hinkle, I Am Sam, Final) dumped him because he was getting nowhere, and now is back, more in love than ever before. Writer/director P.J. Posner (Lifebreath) and co-writer Joel Posner (Lifebreath, Getting In) inject some humorous scenes of art critics discussing Buonardi and other artists, with the main revelation being that nobody is really talking about anything. Othewise, many of the attempts at comedy fall flat.

Still, The Next Big Thing is not that interesting because of its characters. There is a stilted and completely underdeveloped love story between Eigman and Britton. They spend little time on screen together, and most of their interaction is either interrupted by Crowley's boyfriend or over the phone as Buonardi. Eigman is a little too dour and mopey to attract any sympathy from people watching the film. He complains and whines too much about everything to everybody that sometimes one wants him to sink back into obscurity. It always feels like there is something more interesting going on in the background than what is on screen. The Next Big Thing eventually turns into a movie about Bishop, and the internal struggle he must go through about Buonardi. But since Bishop is not very interesting, the movie falters. The movie's satire on the art world is nothing new. Posner (both of them) think that sometimes people may think art is 'better' if the background of the artist is more exciting. So what? They have little else to say, and what they do say is not that clever or original.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated R for langauge and some sexuality/nudity.

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