Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Big Trouble


There are three Florida writers of comic novels that I am aware of. Tim Dorsey’s books are the wildest, with his character Serge Storms killing half a dozen bad people in ingenious and appropriate ways in each book. But I don’t think his stories would translate well to the screen. So far, no one has tried. Carl Hiaasen is probably my favorite. I’ve been reading him for a long time (and where’s the new adult novel, Carl?), but the only movie made from those books was Striptease, and the less said about that, the better. They managed to eliminate everything that makes a Hiaasen novel so delightful.
Then there is Dave Barry. I think he is best known for his over twenty years’ worth of columns for the Miami Herald, but he’s done quite a few comic novels, too. This was his first, and so far the only one made into a movie. It has an excellent cast, many of whom would go on to bigger things. They are all pretty good, and the script is full of comic stuff, but sometimes it just seemed to be trying a little too hard for laughs. I was left wondering if it is a good idea, generally, to try to adapt comic novels for the screen. The great Donald Westlake’s work was adapted a dozen times, and most of them were just dreadful. Exception: The one of the very first ones, The Hot Rock, which starred Robert Redford as gloomy, hard-luck John Dortmunder, which was pretty bad casting … and yet a brilliant script by the late, lamented William Goldman saved it.