Picture three businessmen in a hospitality suite of a hotel overlooking Wichita, Kansas, at a Midwest Manufacturers' Annual Convention. They all work for a company that makes industrial lubricants. Larry (Kevin Spacey) is a hotshot salesman who likes to stir things up. Phil (Danny DeVito) is a middle-aged accounts manager who's reassessing his life and his job. Bob (Peter Facinelli) is a young and inexperienced researcher eager to learn the ropes of a new career.
Early on, Larry asks Bob, "You think you're ready?" He responds: "Well, I guess there is only one way to find out and that is to throw me into the ocean and see if I can swim." Larry interrupts: "I think you are missing the point. We are about to throw you off a cliff and see if you can fly."
While Phil, who's recently been divorced, reads Penthouse, Larry finds out that Bob is married and has no interest in other women. Turns out Bob is a Baptist whose main purpose in life is testifying to the Lord. This really irritates Larry who's never bothered to think much about his beliefs. Bob says he's wondered about God throughout his life. He tells a story about a dream he had as a boy where God was hiding in a closet afraid. He reassured God and brought him outside.
John Swanbeck directs The Big Kahuna based on a play by Roger Rueff. The dramatic fireworks begin when Larry and Bob let an executive, whose business they desperately need, slip through their fingers. Bob, who talked to him in the suite, must track him down at another gathering. Only trouble is that his agenda is not to sell industrial lubricant but to teach the Gospel of Jesus as Lord.
Unlike David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, this drama set in the business world doesn't present a venomous attack on materialism. Here the religion of an ardent and idealistic believer compels his two associates to probe their own ideas and ideals about life and death, love, and friendship. They, in turn, force him to come to terms with the meaning of honesty and true character.