- Movie Rating -

The Big Fix (1978)

| October 6, 1978

The biggest problem with The Big Fix is that it never lands on an idea of what it wants to be.  It’s a comedy, a drama, a message picture, a detective potboiler and an expose about how the radicals of the 60s have sold their souls to the corporate structure.  Those are the bullet points to make a great movie, but they are strung together in a screenplay that batters back and forth trying in vain to get them all organized. 

Adapted by Roger Simon from his own book, the movie stars Richard Dreyfuss as Moses Wine a radical of the 60s who has settled into a button-down life in the 70s.  He’s alone, divorced, has two kids and eeks out a meager living for himself as a private detective.  The job isn’t as sexy as it might seem.  Wine has mostly settled into doing stakeouts for corporate clients.  The stupor of his life is broken somewhat when an old girlfriend comes back into his life.  She’s Lila (Susan Anspach) who reignites the radical in his hum-drum heart.

Yet, to his great disappointment, her former idealism has been set aside so that she can campaign for a stuff-shirt gubernatorial candidate.  She needs Moses to find out who has been spreading rumors that he is in cahoots with a radical named Howard Eppis.  Moses takes the case only to realize that there is a lot more here than meets the eye.

That plot description is really only the surface.  This movie packs in plot points, side gags and idealism by the armload.  It is a comedy that awkwardly bumps up against the detective story.  It is a love story that bumps up against questions of why radicals from the 60s seemed to have gone straight in the 70s.  It’s all laid out here but it moves so crazily through so many different moods that you have trouble keeping up.

The one thing that does work is Dreyfuss, who co-produced the movie.  He gives a very good performance as Moses Wine, who starts out as a bored, cynical man and then is reenergized by the discovery that his long-abandoned ideals may not be gone forever.  He has a lot of great moments, little moments that in a cleaner narrative might have made for a great movie.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.