The Coen Brothers’ enjoyable Burn After Reading was given a fantastic piece of praise I have yet to forget. A critic called the film “a smart movie about stupid people”, and it is this quote that comes to mind regarding Carl Hiaasen’s Stormy Weather, albeit with an update. So how about this? Stormy Weather is a smart-ass book about reprehensible people. Although “stupid” also fits.
Hiaasen is known for his humor. I guess. Humor is always subjective and I found myself being subjected to his brand of humor for all 400 pages. Granted, there were those moments when I did laugh. Out loud even. A few times. Mostly, however, such styling was lost on me like the hurricane winds that were the title’s key plot device.
In Stormy Weather, a major hurricane hits Dade County, Florida and every worm, nightcrawler, blood sucker, and pond scum that washes ashore is looking to scam, steal, and thieve their ways into making a fast buck from those whose lives the storm devastated. The book’s characters, save for perhaps three, range from cringe worthy to downright vile. To give Hiaasen credit, he does create a boutique of scum, formulates their rationale, how everyone relates to each other, and creates back stories, for even minor characters whose sole existence is the punchline of a joke that was built up over a few too many paragraphs; at times you need a spreadsheet and Venn diagram to categorize and track all the players within. The downfall being that none of these people are enjoyable or relatable. Perhaps everyone and their situation is supposed to be deliberately laughed at, but such seems too simple an answer.
True love wins the day, surprisingly, and most people within get their due resulting from their misconduct. To thine own self and all that, but really, to what end?
Stormy Weather will no doubt please Hiaasen fans as well as those of more common black comedies. I bet with a healthy re-write, Joel and Ethan Coen could make this a funny film. For me, I’m just glad to be finished with south Florida.