Books That Deserve Their Own Movie: Carl Hiaasen’s Sick Puppy

Sick Puppy: Carl HiaasenHave you ever had this thought while reading a book:

“Wow, this would make a really good movie. I know exactly who would direct it and who would star in it.”

I found those words playing in my head over and over again as I read Carl Hiaasen’s Sick Puppy. I read the book over the summer for a state and local government class. Yeah, my professor had a sense of humor. Go figure.

(For those who don’t know, Hiaasen writes for the Miami Herald and is one of the elite satirical columnists and novelists in the country. Oh, and he graduated from the University of Florida, which means that I am a part of the same fine institution of journalism that he once was.)

Sick Puppy is a pretty damned funny book, which is somewhat of a rarity. Many novelists go for the murder mystery field. To find an author who uses laughter as his page-turner tool and can hook you into a 500-page novel is a treat.

Sick Puppy won’t exactly draw more inhabitants to the Sunshine State. It captures beautifully why Florida is one the worst states you can live in today. Vacation, is the key word ladies and gentlemen. We can’t offer anything but the state’s beautiful, natural scenery, which we seem to be destroying a little bit of each day. But don’t write us out yet. We can still save the Everglades!

Oh, but the bad driving. That’s something else the book gets right. That’s a whole different issue; a disease that can’t be cured. It’s the AIDS of Florida. The further south you drive in Florida, the more beautiful the scenery gets, but the worse the drivers get also. Seriously, these people drive like they are in a car chase scene from a Michael Bay film. That’s scary to think about, isn’t it? But that might not be saying enough. They should just be sent straight to the frontline in Afghanistan and given a rifle because it’s clear that, like the terrorists we fight every day, they don’t care whether they live or die. Or better yet, they should be given an Escalade.

So, I’m going to briefly outline the plot of Sick Puppy, and by the end you should have a good idea of who the directors of this movie should be. If not, then it’s obvious you haven’t been to the movies lately and you thought the ‘s’ at the end of ‘directors’ was a typo.

Twilly Spree is an economic activist who gets so pissed off when someone litters on the highway, he decides to teach that person a lesson by tailgating his/her car bumper to bumper for tens or even hundreds of miles. Palmer Stoat (don’t you love these names?) is a lobbyist trying to get a bridge in the works to connect to an island so real estate can be built on it.

Of course, Twilly can’t stand to see a beautiful island disappear in the midst of golf courses and retirement homes. So what does he do? He kidnaps Palmer’s beloved black lab, of course. Then he runs away with Palmer’s wife. Palmer refuses to take part in the bridge project until his wife and dog are returned to him. Meanwhile, one of the head people who want the bridge to be a done deal hires a hitman to track down and kill Twilly.

So there you go Joel and Ethan Coen. This is your next film adaptation. Sick Puppy is bursting with all kinds of dark, Coenesque humor.

How about the players? A young, eco-terrorist whose zany scheme is just crazy enough to work. I’m thinking Jim Carrey, although he might be a little too old, but they can always change the age of the character (please God, as long as it’s not Dane Cook). Ditto for Robin Williams as Palmer Stoat, although Greg Kinnear would foot-the-bill also.

How about the killer? Get a load of this bad boy: a relatively young assassin with spiked hair who gets off by listening to murder victims from recorded 9-1-1 calls. Sounds like a signature Coen villain to me. You know how those Coens like their villains to be quirky. And I smell a breakout role for Justin Timberlake.

If you’ve read Sick Puppy, who do you think should star and direct? If you haven’t, what other books would you like to see be made into a movie?

Nate Deen is a 20-year old aspiring film critic/essayist from Pensacola, Fla. He just graduated with an AA degree in journalism from Pensacola Junior College. He will be attending the University of Florida soon to continue his studies in journalism and film. His goal is to either pursue a writing career in entertainment, sports or perhaps both, but his dream is to write and direct his own movies. Recently, he's been devouring classic films, American and foreign. His favorite directors include Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Alfred Hitchcock. If he had to make a top 10 list of the greatest films of all time, they would be: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather I and II, Vertigo, The Third Man, Schindler's List, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Raging Bull, The Passion of Joan of Arc, and City Lights. He runs his own movie review website, www.cinemaitis.com.

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