Once upon a time, there were two brothers, one good and the other bad. In every fairy tale, the good brother defeats the evil and the plot of "Steal Big, Steal Little" is just as predictable.
"Steal Big, Steal Little" is the story of twin brothers feuding over the million-dollar inheritance of a 40,000 acre Santa Barbara ranch. One brother schemes to turn the ranch into an urban development, neglecting his heritage. The other brother longs to "roam the range" without any responsibility.
Robby Martin (Andy Garcia) and Reuben Martinez (Andy Garcia) are as different in personality as they are similar in looks. One has a good heart; he's happy without money. All he needs is his family and friends, and of course, the land of his birthright. The other brother is cruel and hurtful to the bottom of his soul; greed envelopes him. He would sacrifice his own family for money. These brothers are only cartoons--the good brother (Reuben) is a harmonica-playing angel, while the bad brother (Robby) is a polo-playing bandit, until, as in all fairy tales, he is redeemed at the end.
The women in this film, Laura Martinez (Rachel Ticotin) and Bonnie Martin (Ally Walker) also have no depth. They are props, supporting their husbands without the will to stand up for their own rights and beliefs. Laura leaves her husband when she discovers he has cheated on her, but the moment he brings her flowers and candy, she runs back into his arms. This is "love" according to the director.
Stereotypes abound in "Steal Big, Steal Little." The wealthy Japanese businessman does not speak a word of English, the ditzy blond wife loves her husband no matter how badly he treats her, the greedy lawyer betrays a life-long friend for money, and the crass Chicagoan has a kind heart underneath all the bluster, not to mention the happy migrant workers who are never without a stupid grin on their faces.
The special effects of this film are almost nonexistent. Because Andy Garcia plays both Robby and Reuben, some sort of effects are expected. However, rarely are both brothers seen in the same frame. It is as if technology hasn't advanced since "The Parent Trap."
Garcia does not make an honest effort to differentiate the brothers from each other. Different outfits are the only things to distinguish the roles. Garcia plays both parts with a smirk on his face, believing that his own good looks will get him by.
Nothing in this film is new, from the characters to the dialogue to the entire plot. Nothing is interesting. Predictability can often be an asset, we love to see movies with happy endings and familiar plots. However, in the case of "Steal Big, Steal Little," knowing everything before it happens just doesn't cut it.
The moment he brings her flowers and candy, she runs back to his arms. This is "Love" to the Director.