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BIG TROUBLE

About The Production
Humorist Dave Barry got himself a contract to write his first novel in 1998. He decided that it might be a good idea to have some sort of plot, so he began with an idea he gleaned from his son Rob, who, with his friends, was playing a game called Killer. "Basically you had to squirt a designated person with a squirt gun at night, in Miami, which was kind of crazy, since there are people in Miami with real guns also running around," the writer remembers. "I started with what would happen if kids showed up to squirt the kid in the house at the same time professional killers, hit men, showed up really to kill the owner of the house."

From little acorns... Dave Barry was on his way. "The wonderful thing about Miami is that you don't have to make anything up. You don't have to have an imagination at all. All you have to do is read the newspaper here. The Miami Herald had virtually every plot element in this book." Dave Barry just happens to be a columnist at the Herald. Copies weren't hard to come by.

"It wrote itself," he insists. "I was not even involved. Later on, I had to go find it. It not only wrote itself, it sold itself to Hollywood, and was living in the Beverly Hills Hotel when I finally caught back up with it and was able to reclaim ownership."

Producer Tom Jacobson first read Dave Barry's novel in galley form in 1999 and immediately knew he wanted to make it his next film. Says Jacobson, "It was comedic in a unique way, in an idiosyncratic way." He had been looking for a project to do with Barry Sonnenfeld – the director of "Get Shorty" and "Men in Black" – and thought "Big Trouble" would be perfect.

Coincidentally, Sonnenfeld was looking for a project to direct for Touchstone Pictures when he read Dave Barry's novel. Both Sonnenfeld and his wife, Susan Ringo, read the book, and the director says, "we just kept laughing out loud. We just loved the sensibility and the quirkiness and that it was a little bit dark and edgy. The writing was so incredibly funny and the situations were funny and quirky and different and sort of absurd." He had found a kindred spirit in Dave Barry. "I was aware of his columns in the Miami Herald, which were always funny and smart and shared my political views. And from the time I read the prologue of the book, I was instantly hooked."

Producer Barry Josephson also read the book and loved it. "Barry Sonnenfeld was convinced it would make a good film, and I totally agreed with him," Josephson says. "When he asked me to read it I thought it was laugh out loud funny. The book has a great group of characters who are very different from one another, a very odd group trapped in this comedic farce. It all hangs together so well. Best of all it's very fresh, so I think it was a fascinating concept to take on – to turn this story into a movie, to see if these characters be as funny in a film as they were on the page."

Josephson, who had been reading Dave Barry's columns and collections for years, says he was "fascinated and interested to see how Dave Barry would take on fiction. He has the same sensibility as Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, two authors I really love. It's obvious in the book that he can write character and have spontaneity the way those authors do. He finds comedy in everyday situations in such an interesting way."

Sonnenfeld also felt that the tone of "Big Trouble" was easily familiar. He had previously adapted Leonard's work successfully in "Get Shorty" and in the TV series "Maximum Bob," and, like Josephson, he felt that "Big Trouble" shared Leonard's sensibility. Sonnenfeld saw how the novel could translate to film and became convinced that he was the man for the job.

Tom Jaco

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