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Press Review March 21, 2002
 
Big Trouble
By Matt Taibbi Browse author
 
 

Elliott Disqualified as Barry, Friedman Shine in Final Four Action

It's one of the bedrock rules of sports: no athlete and no team ever wins a big tournament without at least one big lucky break. There's always one smoke-trailed scare fired across the bow of the eventual winner -- usually in an early round, but not always.

Heading into week 2 of the U.S. Open and looking to pick a winner? No problem. Just look for the high seed who survived three fifth-set match points against a 147th-ranked Romanian with an unpronounceable name in the second round. The N.F.L. playoffs? If you didn't know New England was going to win after they reversed Tom Brady's fumble, you don't know your football. And Dwight Gooden or no Dwight Gooden, coked-up Daryl Strawberry or no coked-up Daryl Strawberry, the '86 Mets don't win it all without that freak kink that shook Bill Buckner's brain late in game 6 of the World Series.

The NCAA tournament's the same way. Every time Duke or Carolina wins the Big Dance, they always have to come back from 9 against Xaverian in the first bracket. Even Chris Webber wouldn't have survived to call that timeout he didn't have in the final if his Fab Five hadn't come back from three buckets down to beat lowly George Washington in round two.

Winners get breaks. That's part of what makes them winners. Joe Montana never had a perfect pass bounce off a receiver's hands into the arms of an oft-indicted linebacker for a game-losing playoff interception. But Steve McNair has. That's not McNair's fault. But it is his fate, and that's what sports is all about.

There's no doubting that Dave Barry is a winner. Even Bill Walsh says he reminds him of Montana. A few breaks here and there were probably the only difference between Barry and a million other struggling fiction writers. But he got the breaks, and now Big Trouble is a movie, not a forgotten first effort. Now that Michael Elliott's been bounced from competition, he has the break of this tournament, too. Sperm-gate left Barry roaring into the Final Four looking like Brady after that non-fumble: totally unconscious, rifling strikes through the snow, unable to miss from anywhere. You just know he's going to drive the field now.

Or will he? Will the heavyweights from the other draw, Ronald Brownstein and Tom Friedman, get in his way? You never know. You know what they say in sports: no matter who's playing, in the end, you still have to line up and play the game.

Here's how they went in the Final Four:

Dave Barry (1), Miami Herald, def. Daniel Pearl, Wall Street Journal

It was more than just lucky for Dave Barry that Michael Elliott was removed from the tournament after testing positive for a substance indicating the presence of Ari Fleischer's sperm. It was justice. Had Barry been removed from the tournament now, it would have been wrong. After all, the first Dave Barry movie, Big Trouble, is about to hit the big screen -- a pivotal advance in the overall hack offensive, one that ought to inspire panic and heightened vigilance in every right-thinking person.

Even from the trailer it is obvious that Big Trouble is exactly the movie you'd make to celebrate the Barry phenomenon. It is directed by a hack director, Barry Sonnenfeld (of Get Shorty and Wild, Wild West fame, along with the accidentally watchable Men in Black), stars an "underrated" hack sitcom comedian (Tim Allen of Home Improvement), and features performances by well-reviewed hack character actors Dennis Farina and Tom Sizemore. The lead female role is played by Rene Russo, who is basically the feminine ideal of Dave Barry's America -- a mannish and unremarkable-looking woman that all men agree is a knockout (there's a creepy craze in the States these days among guys for making sex symbols out of plain or dykey-looking women like Jillian Anderson) and who's smarter, more competent and basically more of a badass than her clumsy boyfriend/husband, who enjoys being pussywhipped and ordered around by her because she's SUCH A WOMAN. Reportedly, there is a sex scene in this movie between Allen and Russo, which accurately reflects the depressingly sex-neutral middle-age vibe of Barry's world. If the jokes aren't funny, the sex scenes can't be sexy. Actually, that's a lot what listening to people laugh at Barry's jokes is like -- like having to watch two middle-aged people tongue-kissing. Anyway, both things are in this film.


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