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article imageReview: ‘Big Ass Spider’ packs a lot of fun in the trunk Special

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By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 25, 2013 in Entertainment
A ‘Big Ass Spider’ escapes a military lab and it’s up to a team of scientists and a brave exterminator to keep it from spinning a city-wide web of chaos.
Immediate credit needs to be given to a film that wears its insanity on its sleeve. With a title like Big Ass Spider, the only way it could be truly disappointing is if it didn't feature a huge arachnid. Luckily it matches that ridiculousness with an equally over-the-top dose of humour and fun.
Alex (Greg Grunberg) is a nice guy, but he doesn't hesitate when it comes to removing unwanted vermin. When a hospital visit for a poisonous spider bite happens to coincide with the discovery of an unusually large insect in the basement, he offers his services in exchange for his treatment expenses. But even Alex's extra potent homemade bug spray is no match for this eight-legged creature. When the military quarantines the hospital, it becomes clear they're not dealing with an ordinary spider.
Not as funny as Eight Legged Freaks and not as creepy as Arachnophobia, this film finds an entertaining middle ground. Most scenes of the pre-enormous spider are both amusing and disturbing, such as when the yet-to-be-identified creature is trying to escape from a body bag. Even its web is menacing, showing no identifiable pattern and so sticky it could ensnare a grown man. Conversely, the King Kong of arachnids is less tragic as it finds its perch atop a tall building resembling the Empire State Building.
Grunberg is perfectly cast, supplying both the humor and brawn the character requires. Alex attempts to impress a female lieutenant with his exterminating skills, boasting that he can think like a spider while actually impersonating one -- it can only be seen, not described. The casting of Ray Wise in the role of the major in charge brings a charisma not generally seen in uniform. And even just a brief appearance by Lin Shaye is always welcome.
Not surprisingly, this movie shares many ingredients with those absurd shark pictures and other creature features. There's a brash hero who's figured it all out; an amusing sidekick ready to back up his crazy plan to stop the monster; an attempt to keep the government's mistake a secret; and a little romance to keep things light. What more could a big monster movie need?
Big Ass Spider screened at the 2013 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Director: Mike Mendez
Starring: Lin Shaye, Greg Grunberg and Ray Wise
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