Miami blues

Or, how to paint a farce with too much color.


directed by Barry Sonnenfeld with Tim Allen, Rene Russo, and Dennis Farina opens April 5 at Metro, Pacific Place, and others

HOW DID the talent involved in Get Shorty—director Barry Sonnenfeld plus actors Rene Russo and Dennis Farina—uncork such a flat fizz from Dave Barry's best-selling 1999 source novel? Like the similarly misguided crime caper 2 Days in the Valley, Big Trouble harnesses a who's who of quirky character actors into Pulp Fiction-lite situational irony.

Tim Allen's deadpan narration links no fewer than 14 major players in a maddening plot about a nuclear suitcase-bomb on the loose in Miami. The Tool Man is a passable anti-hero, playing a former Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald columnist (very inventive, Dave) now degenerated into a hapless, Geo-driving divorc鮠Crossing his path are Tom Sizemore and Johnny Knoxville, two dog-dumb holdup men whose effort to smuggle said bomb aboard a commercial airliner resulted in a postponement of Trouble's planned Sept. 21 release, owing to obvious 9/11 parallels. Surprisingly, not a frame has been altered since. Insensitive? Maybe, but no more so than Allen's scabrous teen son bent on "killing" an attractive classmate . . . with a Super Soaker.

More problematic is that the dirtbags and windbags sauntering through Sonnenfeld's Miami are just mildly amusing caricatures. Trouble begs the question of why a man of Barry's observational prowess can't concoct anything better than half-baked comic plotting. Jason Lee's benign tree-dwelling Jesus-look-alike character, for example, adores Fritos. This trait alone largely defines his character. Why Fritos? Is this an ironic stab at product placement? We're never let in on the joke. This stuff reeks of a lazy, underdeveloped Saturday Night Live sketch.

In the end, Trouble's heroes and heroines are pitted against targets so easy and foils so outlandish that "I'm With Stupid" T-shirts would be wholly appropriate. The script never should've been allowed past security.

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