Not at all the Sharknado-style shitshow its title suggests, Mike Mendez’s Big Ass Spider is as improbable as a superhero or a super-monster—it’s like some SyFy original was bitten by a radioactive Joe Dante, endowing it with well-staged scares, sharply timed jokes, goofy yet effective CG effects, and, as its every-schlub hero crawls through ductwork in pursuit of the swollen-up arachnid of the title, serious bursts of cartoon squick.
This is squirmy, hilarious fun. Best of all is Greg Grunberg’s light-footed turn as an exterminator given a chance at action-hero glory—and, via the Law of Adventure Movies’ Sexist Wish Fulfillment, a crack at the girl, too. The winning Grunberg treats the film like the lark it is, charming his way through, clearly sharing one key trait with the bug-killer he’s playing: a pride in getting the job done. He’s so funny and likable as he stalks about with his gear-packs and spider-spray that he could be a first-rank Ghostbuster.
Things get dicier with his sidekick, identified in some press materials as a “Latino security guard.” Whether Lombardo Boyar’s helpful, encouraging, shaky-Englished second banana is meant to be a straight-up comic Latino or just a Latino who happens to be comic I’ll leave to you—but did he have to say, “I’m gonna help you, and you know, like, how? Like Robin helps-a Batman”? The spider starts the size of an Alien facehugger but eventually gets engorged to King Kong proportions and scales the U.S. Bank Building, here called “The Epic Building,” as if distributor Epic Pictures—also behind that recent absurdist triumph Vikingdom—now rules Los Angeles. They certainly beat the studios at pleasurable junk.