49 user 22 critic

The Big Empty (2003)

2:22 | Trailer

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John Person is an actor with little work, and no money, who suddenly finds himself with an opportunity to make some quick cash by delivering a suitcase to the middle of nowhere.


Steve Anderson


Steve Anderson
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jon Favreau ... John Person
Joey Lauren Adams ... Grace
Bud Cort ... Neely
Jon Gries ... Elron
Daryl Hannah ... Stella
Adam Beach ... Randy
Gary Farmer ... Indian Bob
Rachael Leigh Cook ... Ruthie
Brent Briscoe ... Dan
Melora Walters ... Candy
Kelsey Grammer ... Agent Banks
Sean Bean ... Cowboy
Alejandra Aguilan Alejandra Aguilan ... Traveler
Jay Brothers ... Traveler
Sara Fouts Sara Fouts ... Traveler


Would be-Hollywood actor John Person always considered his bizarre neighbor Neely a conspiracy theory nut-case. Still he accepts a simple task to wipe out his over $27,000 debt: delivering a blue suitcase to some Cowboy at Baker, in the empty desert. The place proves a nest of weirdos, including extremely jealous Randy and his girl Ruthie, who seduces John. He learns Neely was murdered, and FBI agent Banks grills him as prime suspect. Yet the weirdest is still to come once Cowboy turns up. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Cowboys. Aliens. Blue suitcases and bowling balls. Strange things are happening out in the middle of nowhere. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexual dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site | production company





Release Date:

28 August 2009 (Belgium) See more »

Also Known As:

El gran destino See more »

Filming Locations:

Baker, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In an interview, Jon Favreau said that when he read the script for The Big Empty, he was fascinated by its structure, as he didn't see where it was all going in the end. See more »


Just before Cowboy finally opens the bowling bag, the zipper is halfway up the right side. John was warned not to open the bag and was terrified by the potential consequences; he didn't open the bag at any point and certainly wouldn't have allowed it to remain partially open. See more »


[first lines]
Grace: [answers the door in her robe]
John Person: Hi. Oh, Grace, I'm sorry. I thought I heard you moving around in there. Um, listen, I can't decide.
Grace: Did you hear - about the callback?
John Person: No, not yet. I've got some new head shots.
Grace: What happened to your furniture?
John Person: I had to sell it all.
Grace: Even Your bed?
John Person: Yeah. I'm not gonna need it.
See more »


References Lawrence of Arabia (1962) See more »


Written by F. Lee Jones
Performed by Ron Levy
Courtesy of Rounder Records
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

a solid debut from Anderson
2 December 2006 | by nobbytatoesSee all my reviews

Stuck in a mediocre life, John Person persist with his dream of acting. Hanging on the hope of a call back from an audition, John is suddenly interrupted by his neighbour Neely. Neely asks for John's help in delivering a blue suitcase to a man called the Cowboy. The delivery point is the small desert town of Baker. Once there, John meets the strange locals; hotel manager Elron, bar maid Stella, the mysterious Ruthie. Complications arise when FBI agent Banks starts investigating John and his matters in Baker.

The Big Empty is a quirky debut for director/writer Steve Anderson. The Big Empty is a mash up of ideas and concepts; aliens and abductions, bowling, the mystery of the suitcase, meeting new people in the likeliest places, freeing once self from life's pit, a self discovery to your inner life and desires. To Anderson's credit, he stops this mash up from a complete muddle and strings it all together convincingly. Yet he has taken on to much all at once. The esoteric story, the kooky characters of the town are of centered to his canvas. He has so many ideas, but placing so many have hindered the film.

A positive and a negative of The Big Empty is its overly ambiguous tone. Questions are thrown at you, hints to their answer are slowly dug up, but so many questions are left unanswered. It's very opened ended, leaving room for much interpretation. Anderson wants you to think and uncover your own answers, which is pleasant to see from a film maker, audiences are too comfortable to have the answers given.

Acting all round is solid. Jon Favreau is strong if it not near his best. Daryl Hannah is great is as Stella. Kelsey Grammar occasionally hits over the top as Agent Banks. Rachael Leigh Cook is an absolute stand out as head strong and free spirit Ruthie. Sean Bean is also quite a stand out as the mysterious Cowboy.

While The Big Empty may not grasp everyones attention or be a wholly stunning film, it shows much talent in Anderson's skill as a film maker. A very solid debut.

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