The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 3rd

Dave Barry-Based 'Trouble' Partners Wit, Goats


4 Stars

The makers of "Big Trouble," at first glance, took a bunch of random characters, situations and jokes, shook them up and threw the mixture on celluloid.

But clearly the finished product is well-written and funny. Or maybe they just got lucky.

Born from the twisted mind of columnist Dave Barry, "Big Trouble" is fast, cute and simply hilarious. Like a family-friendly version of "Pulp Fiction," it follows several different characters who weave together in a wild plot that ends up threatening national security.

The story is set in the uniquely populated city of Miami, where everyone from an ambitious squeal to an advertising salesman end up chasing a ticking nuclear bomb around town. Not funny? Wait until Stanley Tucci starts licking his maid's toes and dirty men start dropping out of trees. Needless to say, no one is safe, and the plot sweeps in like a hurricane -- sucking up all kinds of weird stuff and dumping it helter-skelter.

With a hallucinogenic toad, Patrick Warburton ("The Tick) streaking naked through a crowded airport, Andy Richter drunkenly firing a gun at a trio of teenagers, a gang of goats, a bum named Puggy, a failing Geo and a soul-stealing Martha Stewart dog, "Big Trouble" has everything you could ask for and some things you thought you would never see.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld leads the film through a rapid-fire series of run-on jokes and sarcastic comments that span the entire spectrum of comedic intelligence. The concept of goats blocking the runway is just plain silly, yet on the other hand, the stinging insults delivered by Zooey Deschanel are intelligent and carry a teenage kick.

But where "Big Trouble" really shines is in its stellar cast -- where everyone is a comedian but no one overacts like it. Tim Allen triumphs as a perpetual loser, haunted by sexual repression and a poor automobile purchase. He ends up an unlikely and everyday hero.

Rounding out the cast is the undeniable sex appeal of Rene Russo, the unfaltering whit of Janeane Garofalo and the baffling criminal stupidity of Johnny Knoxville. Even Heavy D rolls up -- acting smug, tough and all pimp, with an FBI badge no less.

Though the plot and characters are fragmented, the integral parts weave together smoothly. It never seems like the writers are stretching to make the cops show up at just the right time to scare off an assassin and a kid with a squirt gun.

Think "Snatch" - without the murder, mayhem and criminal underground. Or maybe "Snatch" meets Disney -- in a dark, lonely prison cell.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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