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Literature / Big Trouble

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A 1999 novel by Dave Barry. Set in Miami, it satirizes the Crime and Punishment genre in fiction. While the novel starts out as a Slice of Life look into the daily business of various quirky characters, things soon take a turn for drama with the introduction of Russian arms dealers and a suitcase nuke.

The book was turned into a movie in 2001, but the release was delayed by almost a year because the September 11 attacks happened ten days before the original release date, and because of the film plot dealing with hoodlums hijacking a plane. The Film of the Book was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and stars Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Tom Sizemore, Johnny Knoxville, Dennis Farina, Janeane Garofalo, Patrick Warburton, Zooey Deschanel, and Ben Foster. Also features memorable appearances by Omar Epps, Jason Lee, and Andy Richter.

Not to be confused with the 1986 film of the same name directed by John Cassavetes and starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk.

Provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • While watching the events unfold in the Hurk residence, Henry at one point refers to Snake and Eddie as 'Moron Number One' and 'Moron Number Two'. The gangster played by Dennis Farina in Midnight Run also used these exact terms to refer to two of his employees.
    • After commandeering Bruce's Humvee, FBI Agent Greer tosses his country music CD out the window and replaces it with "Big Trouble" by Heavy D & The Boyz.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In the book Walter Kramitz is harassing his partner despite both being married, and only does the right things for very selfish reasons. In the movie he's still married and still hits on his partner, he does get a substantial attitude upgrade to the point of being dutifully heroic.
    • The Big Damn Heroes moment in the climax of the book is shared between Officer Monica Ramirez and Matt Arnold, who sneak aboard the plane and try to overpower Snake and rescue Jenny, and Eddie, who rebels against Snake and shoves the suitcase bomb out of the plane. In the film, Eliot boards the plane, knocks Eddie out, shoves the suitcase out of the plane, and, when Snake tries to pull it back in, pulls the emergency release lever, dumping Snake and the suitcase into the ocean; the pilot, Justin, also contributes by banking the plane, briefly knocking Snake unconscious, and relaying Agent Greer's message to get the suitcase off the plane immediately. Jenny gets to keep her role in attacking Snake and distracting him for long enough to allow the pilot to put his radio back on and contact the tower.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In the book, Eliot and his wife have divorced after drifting into the painful but mutual realization that they have nothing left in common. In the film, they divorce after Eliot finds out she has been having an affair.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: In the book, Jenny Herk is a fairly typical high school ditz and, in the climax, a Damsel in Distress. In the film, she is much more of a Deadpan Snarker, a natural fit for any character played by Zooey Deschanel.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Henry. The film omits a scene where he shoots a python constricting Leonard, quickly yet carefully finding an angle to shoot the snake where the bullet will go through the python's body and not hit Leonard or anyone standing off to the side.
  • Adapted Out: Miami Police Detective Harvey Baker, whose role in the book is fulfilled by Officer Monica in the film.
  • Affably Evil: Henry and Leonard may be professional killers, but Henry in particular is well-spoken, exceedingly polite, and always tries to solve conflicts peacefully before resorting to violence. (And even then, only the minimum necessary amount of violence.) Compounded further by the fact that everyone they target in the movie is an Asshole Victim if there ever was one.
  • The Alleged Car: Eliot's oft-mocked Geo. Largely subverted, though, as it performs well enough throughout the whole movie and never lets its occupants down when it matters.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Eliot is considered one by his teenage son, although it's limited to the kind of car he drives and taste in music.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: After firing his gun in a drunken haze at a teenager with a squirt gun, "Jack Pendick, crimefighter", asks the police detective if he'll get it back after he's sobered up.
    Detective Baker: Of course you do! Just as soon as we run a couple of tests, and a giant talking marshmallow is elected President.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: Detective Baker asks FBI Agent Greer, if there's a nuclear bomb in Miami, why don't they inform the police, or at least evacuate the suspect area? Agent Greer's response:
    If word gets out, which it would, that there's a nuclear bomb practically in fucking downtown, what do you think would happen to this city? Do you think there would be an orderly evacuation? Women and children first? Cooler heads prevailing? You think that's how the citizenry of Miami would react? What would happen is that every idiot in this town who owns a gun, which is basically every idiot in this town, would grab his gun, jump into his car, or somebody else's car, and lay rubber for I-95. Inside of ten minutes the city is gridlocked and what happens next makes Iwo Jima look like a maypole dance. This whole town turns into the end of a Stephen King novel.
    • As a veteran Miami policeman, Detective Baker can't really argue the point.
  • Arms Dealer: Ivan "John" Chukov and Leonid "Leo" Yudanski started out as Military Moonshiners in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Grzkjistan, and branched out into selling off military hardware for American dollars as the Soviet Union started to collapse. They moved to South Florida in the late 1990s and set up the Jolly Jackal bar as a front for their arms dealership, for which Miami turned out to be an excellent market.
  • Artistic License – Military: At the end of the film, the two FBI agents tell Eliot that they would like to present him with a Congressional Medal of Honor for preventing a rogue nuclear weapon from leveling Miami. The Medal of Honor is a military decoration, and Eliot would be ineligible to receive it (though his actions would certainly qualify him for a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest possible award for civilians). Although the Medal of Honor has, on rare occasions, been awarded to civilians for outstanding acts of bravery that aid the U.S. military, the last instances occurred during the American Civil War, after which Congress tightened the rules to limit awards to members of the military. Charles Lindbergh received the Medal in 1927 for his trans-Atlantic flight, but he was a reserve member of the Army Air Corps, and the award required a special act of Congress.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Arthur Herk gets shot at, robbed, kidnapped, handcuffed to a shelf unit, kneed in the groin, thrown through a glass door by a cop, sprayed by a hallucinogenic toad, and is last seen dragging said shelf down a dark, deserted street, pursued by his visions of a demonic Martha Stewart. Good thing he's an utter Jerkass and the whole thing is Played for Laughs (when he's shot at, everyone in the room with him as he's complaining about it feels an emotional connection with the shooter, including the cops).
    • There's also Bruce, Eliot's client, also a large Jerkass. He has his finger broken by Henry to teach him some manners, then he is carjacked by the FBI agents when he refuses to let them through a traffic jam.
    • Officer Walter Kramitz, but only in the book — an incompetent cop and an obnoxious jerk stalking his partner despite both being married. The film tones down his incompetence and eliminates jerkishness, making him a Butt-Monkey.
  • At Least I Admit It: Andrew, in the film:
    Jenny: You, don't stare at my ass as I walk away.
    Andrew: I can't make that promise.
  • Author Avatar: Eliot had the same job as Dave Barry before he quit, and is made into the movie's main protagonist rather than just part of the ensemble.
  • Being Good Sucks: At the end of the film, the two FBI agents tell Eliot that he's entitled to a Congressional Medal of Honor for preventing a rogue nuclear weapon from leveling Miami, but since none of this happened, the best they can do is an autographed cowboy hat and pair of boots. Subverted in that Eliot is much more rewarded by winning the respect of his son, and the lasting admiration of Anna and her daughter.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Henry asks four other diners, in the most polite, respectful way, to extinguish their cigars so he can enjoy his $30 steak without the taste being ruined by fumes. The diners laugh this off, and one even blows smoke in his face - and stops laughing when Henry breaks his fingers and douses his cigar in his brandy. The other three quickly follow suit.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Roger.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: FBI Agents Greer and Seitz, described as such in the book, and portrayed in the film by Dwight "Heavy D" Meyers and Omar Epps.
  • Better as Friends: Matt and Jenny, according to the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
  • Bowdlerization: The Film of the Book. It was likely done because Mood Whiplash on such a grand scale probably doesn't translate well to the screen. The book is a rapid-fire comedy that suddenly turns dark and disturbing for bits near the end before going right back to comedy. The movie just goes with comedy all the way.
  • Break the Haughty: Arthur gets this treatment in spades.
  • Brick Joke: Loads of them - they make up about one third of the movie's gags. The rest consists of Running Gags and snark, all woven together to form one intricate sequence of non-stop comedy.
  • Bring the Anchor Along: When Walter and Arthur end up handcuffed to a large metal entertainment unit, they end up dragging the damn thing through the house and using it to crash through a glass sliding door. An mid-credits scene shows Arthur, still cuffed to the thing, dragging it down the street.
  • Cardboard Prison: The contractor for a prison security system is better at bribing public officials than at designing prison doors that don't open automatically during a severe thunderstorm. The contractor is also good at finding scapegoats for massive prison breaks (subcontractors, in this case).
  • Catchphrase: Leonard's "Got that right".
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: FBI Agents Greer and Seitz explain to Detective Baker that they had already identified the terrorist who was supposed to pick up the suitcase bomb in New York City, and wouldn't need to be in Miami at all if "some dickwad secret agents from a certain federal agency that I will not identify here except by the initials C, I, and A... which don't even have fucking jurisdiction" hadn't also been following the terrorist, mistakenly concluded that he was planning to flee the country, and decided to grab him before he got to the airport.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The book more than The Film of the Book.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: The female cop has her shirt ripped open, revealing a red bustier.
  • Composite Character:
    • Monica is combined with Detective Baker (the cop who accompanies the FBI agents in the book).
    • Eliot's obnoxious client Bruce, the restaurant customer Henry injures for smoking, and the owner of the car Greer and Seitz commandeer are combined into one Butt-Monkey in the movie.
  • Consummate Professional: Henry, the smarter of the two hit men. When his partner is being strangled to death by a python, Henry takes the time to calmly assess the situation, realizes that just shooting the snake in a crowded area will probably result in someone getting hurt by mistake, gets down on the floor so he can fire up through the snake's head and pulls the trigger. And then talks himself out of being arrested when two FBI agents pick that moment to turn up and recognize him.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Arthur Herk's job entire job consists of giving bribe money to people. And he can't even do that properly, as being a compulsive gambler he also takes a little money from the bribes, "with the hope of the true loser that it wouldn't be noticed".
    • The entire management of Penultimate, which was in fact founded for the sole purpose of taking over Cuba once Castro died.
  • Cowboy Cop: Agents Seitz and Greer think nothing of shooting an unarmed criminal in the foot to get information or yanking an obnoxious motorist through his window to commander his car. However, they claim that they actually are legally allowed to do that thanks to a recent executive order.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone with an IQ above room temperature (so maybe half the cast) will drop some snarky remarks at some point, but Jenny is easily the master of it.
  • Dead Sparks: Eliott and his wife Patty, in the novel.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Used in the film. "We have a Die Hard situation forming in the kitchen..."
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Roger. Hey, it's a frequent theme for Dave Barry.
  • Double Entendre: Jenny's and Matt's dialogue during their second "Killer" session is absolutely loaded with them.
  • Everyone Has Standards: After "commandeering" an obnoxious driver's Humvee to bypass a traffic jam and get to the airport, Agent Greer stops the vehicle, pulls out the CD the driver was blasting on the sound system, drops it to the ground and steps on it. In the film, Greer drives the Humvee over the median towards the airport, tossing the driver's (Bruce) country music CD out the window. He also takes a moment to turn off the blinking lights on Bruce's naked woman dashboard ornament.
  • Evil, Inc.: Mostly Type 3, but flirting with Type 2. (And in the novel, Type 1.) Penultimate Corporation (Penultra in the film) is mostly a construction company, but as corrupt as the day is long, willfully incompetent to the point of cartoonishness, but so well connected that they still keep raking in contracts. In the novel, Penultimate's main shadow goal is to overthrow Castro. The film dumps this angle and turns up the evil caricature to the max. How? Well, for starts, there's an M1919 machine gun on the boardroom table.
  • Failsafe Failure:
    • All the doors of a Miami prison were made with over-the-counter garage door openers. When a thunderstorm struck (hardly a rare event in Miami) after the jail went online, every door in the prison opened.
    • Detective Baker asks whether the morons who have inadvertently gotten hold of a suitcase bomb could actually set it off; according to Agent Greer, the nuclear warhead inside has been modified so that any failsafes have been removed and the bomb is intentionally easy to trigger.
  • Fat and Skinny: Agent Greer is about a hundred pounds heavier than his partner, Agent Seitz.
  • Fat Bastard: Bruce, Eliot's obnoxious client.
  • A Father to His Men: Detective Baker. After Officers Ramirez and Kramitz fail to report in from the Herk house, Baker drives out there to check on them himself, and, seeing two FBI agents leaving in a hurry, draws his gun on them and demands to know where his officers are.
  • Funny Background Event: When the feds and Monica arrive at the airport and start roughing up the obnoxious security guard there, a PA announcement can be heard in the background asking the owner of the yellow Hummer (the one they just hijacked from perennial Asshole Victim Bruce) to remove the car from the main entrance.
  • The Gambling Addict: Arthur Herk, who has embezzled $55,000 from his crooked employers to pay off a gambling debt, skimming it from the cash bribes he is supposed to deliver to various crooked politicians, and hoping "with the irrational hope of the true loser that somehow the money would not be missed, or that it's loss would be blamed on somebody else."
  • Groin Attack: Roger (the dog) greets every newcomer by molesting their crotch. Arthur later suffers one courtesy of Snake that leaves him a whimpering wreck for the rest of the scene.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Matt's second attempt to "kill" Jenny is interrupted by "Jack Pendick, crimefighter", whose lifelong dream is to be a police officer, but was turned down twice by the Miami Police for being "in layperson's terms, stupid." Firing a gun wildly at Matt and Jenny drives them away in a panic, but he trips and falls over his own feet and loses his gun. The fact that he's drunk off his ass doesn't help his coordination or his judgment.
  • Hummer Dinger: FBI Agents Greer and Seitz's rush to Miami International Airport is delayed by a traffic jam, and their attempt to squeeze into a side lane is blocked by a Humvee in their path:
    Humvees are a common sight in Miami. They're especially popular with wealthy trend-followers who like to cruise the streets in these large, impractical pseudomilitary vehicles, as though awaiting orders to proceed to Baghdad.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: In the epilogue:
    [Anna] and Eliot had agreed that they would not jump into anything, that they would take it slow and be really sure. They were married four days later.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Inverted in the book, in which nobody thinks that the bomb looks like a bomb.
    "It's a garbage disposal."
    • The film continues to run with this by using exclusively point-of-view shots looking up at the people examining it... until the scene where it's finally opened and accidentally armed at the airport. It's painfully obvious (to everyone but the characters) that it's a miniature warhead with a timer attached.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When Jack is questioned by Walter and Monica:
    Monica: Sir, have you been drinking?
    Jack: Of course not.
    [his whiskey bottle crashes to the ground]
  • Intercourse with You: "I Want Your Sex Pootie" by the Seminal Fluids.
  • I Was Never Here: FBI Agents Greer and Seitz both hammer into Miami Detective Harvey Baker that once they retrieve the suitcase bomb, that is the end of the affair and "none of this happened."
  • Jerkass: Arthur Herk, "one of the few Floridians who was not confused when he voted for Pat Buchanan."
    • Bruce (Eliot's client at the ad agency) and Eliot's former boss at the newspaper also qualify. Not to mention Snake and Eddy.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Arthur confronts his boss at Penultimate over the fact that the bosses "are planning to have [him] whacked!", the boss points out that not only are those decisions made way above his pay-grade, but that in stealing money from a massively corrupt corporation that is only transparently a cover for some kind of massive criminal operation, Arthur probably should have seen this coming as a possibility.
  • Like Brother and Sister: The way Matt and Jenny feel about each other in the end especially what with their parents getting married.
  • Male Gaze: Invoked every time Jenny, Matt and Andrew meet somewhere. She explicitly warns them to stop staring at her boobs and ass, which of course does nothing to deter them from doing so anyway.
  • Mama Bear: Anne is very protective of Jenny, tackling Matt when he runs in to shoot her (with a squirt gun).
  • Meaningful Name: Would-be manly man Jack Pendick.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • After Snake takes several main characters hostage, their plight is suddenly played completely straight and gets pretty disturbing when he starts threatening rape. These threats don't happen in The Film of the Book
    • Also the book as a whole when compared to Dave Barry's previous work. It's much more serious (and the comedy that is there much darker) than his normal brand of slapstick, funny observations, and dad jokes.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Before addressing Matt, Jenny tells Andrew not to stare at her boobs. He dutifully raises his eyes (though he freely admits he ogles her ass as she walks away).
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: In the film, arms dealers Leonid and Ivan sponsor a girls' softball team.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Henry and Leonard don't try to kill Puggy after he sees their faces and wait until Anne and Jenny aren't in the line of fire before shooting at Arthur.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Believing that the suitcase bomb is heading for Miami International Airport, Agent Greer calls the airport and orders all planes grounded until further notice. This precaution makes perfect sense, but the delays only increase the chaos inside the airport terminals and generate several distractions that make it harder for the agents, or the other protagonists, to locate Snake or the bomb, before he commandeers a plane and orders the pilots at gunpoint to take off.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In his paranoia, Snake insists that the heavy metal suitcase, which he's sure must contain drugs or emeralds, be loaded into the cabin of the plane instead of the luggage compartment. Had he not done so, it would have been impossible for the plane's other occupants (Eddie in the novel, Eliot in the film), to shove it out of the plane before the Incredibly Obvious Bomb inside detonates.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Subverted (at least in the book, the ending of the movie is more ambiguous). Matt and Jenny have a strong mutual attraction, but the epilogue states that after Matt's dad marries Jenny's mom, dating feels weirder for them, and they eventually decide they're Better as Friends.
  • Only in Florida:
    • The hitmen mention how certain things they encounter in Miami (like rabid, crazy-scary Gator fans) are found Only in Florida.
    • At the end of both book and movie, they are said by the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue to have sworn off ever taking a job in Florida again.
  • Only in Miami: The word-for-word reaction of city residents who read the news story about a bevy of goats escaping near the airport.
  • Our Product Sucks: Played with. One character's in advertising and designs a logo for a beer company called Hammerhead. He puts a picture of a Hammerhead with a caption saying, "Ugly Fish. Good Beer." (In The Film of the Book, this was changed to an eel.) The client hates it, and the ad changes to a more traditional beer commercial with models. The client's suggested slogan? "Get hammered with Hammerhead".
  • Overreacting Airport Security: Zig-zagged at the climax: the security officer in charge of doing baggage checks completely overlooks the fact that the "garbage disposal" that Snake and Eddie the Obviously Evil Stupid Crooks are carrying is actually an (even more incredibly obvious) small nuclear warhead and also doesn't notices that they brought a gun with them (they passed it by the metal detector with the other metal objects on the regular tray when she wasn't looking) and makes them move along out of annoyance. But when when Officer Kramitz (who is without a badge because of the weird things that have happened so far) arrives to the main security office to tell the officers to be on the lookout for said crooks, out come the gloves and the strip-searching (the event is bad enough that Kramitz ends up streaking through the airport trying to get away from them and decides to become a stripper).
  • Planes, Trains, and Imbeciles: Inverted in Big Trouble, where the airport worker (a single mother working a tiring job for a dubious company possibly about to be shut down by the FBI, with a sick baby and a broken-down car) is portrayed sympathetically. When Snake (accompanied to two other creeps and a young woman clearly no in her right mind) just throws money at her to speed things up, she takes the money and then some for her garage and babysitter bills, but lets them through, even after Snake just tells her all four of them are named John Smith.
  • Phony Veteran: Snake and Eddie, for brief and unsuccessful busking.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen seem to have developed the same credo to describe the management of daily newspapers: "Those who can, write; those who can't, edit." Ken Deeber, Eliot's managing editor at the Miami Herald worked (very) briefly as a reporter before rapidly ascending up the career ladder thanks to assiduous networking and forcing the newspaper's staff to work on "consequential" stories that win journalism awards, instead of stories the public might actually want to read.
    The only reason Deeber's car ignition hadn't been wired to a bomb before now is that reporters have poor do-it-yourself skills.
  • Police Are Useless: Or at least Officer Walter Kramitz is (in the movie more than the book).
  • Professional Killer: Henry and Leonard.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Eliot decides enough is enough when his editor dismisses his story about a Cuban fisherman training cormorants to assassinate Fidel Castro as stupid, and orders him to work on the latest "mega-turd" (the staff's nickname for "consequential" stories). In the film, Eliot elaborates that he also happened to find out that day that his wife was screwing her tennis instructor.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: There's literally not a minute in this movie without something hilarious happening.
  • Running Gag: By the truckload.
    • "Was that a goat?"
    • The Annoyed Radio Host and the Gator Fan will be speaking anytime the radio turns on.
    • Eliot drives a Geo. And it will be noted/mocked constantly.
    • The hitmen tripping and losing their rifle one way or another.
    • Henry's face getting abused by his rental car's semi-automatic seatbelt.
    • Someone cracking wise about stuff they learned from watching the Discovery/Travel Channel.
    • TVs getting destroyed by gunfire.
    • Roger molesting everyone by biting/sniffing their crotch. Repeatedly.
    • The Incredibly Obvious Bomb being mistaken for a garbage disposal.
  • Ruritania: The fictitious "Soviet Socialist Republic of Grzkjistan", where Ivan and Leonid were posted before becoming arms dealers, appears to be an expy of one or more of the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, or Turkmenistan).
  • Schlubby, Scummy Security Guard: Jack Pendick is an alcoholic security guard repeatedly rejected from the police due to being, well, stupid, and nearly kills two teenagers by shooting at them thinking they were criminals.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • A couple are driving by arguing on whether or not they should move away from Florida. Then they encounter Kramitz and Herk chained to an entertainment center, Kramitz yelling at Herk that his dog is not Elizabeth Dole, nor does she want to eat his soul. The couple takes off, and the husband emerges from his silence to tell his wife to call the movers.
    • After suffering a number of indignities and idiots in their time in Florida, the last straw comes for the two hitmen when, stuck in a traffic jam listening to two morons have a never-ending back-and-forth argument on the radio about the Gators, a goat walks past their car.
  • Sex for Product: Eliot and his ad for Hammerhead turns into this. "You have a guy in a boat with a girl, she's in a bikini, she has big tits, they're on a boat, and they're getting hammered! With Hammerhead! The feeling of this ad is, somebody's gonna get laid! In the background swimming around is a shark! The girl has REALLY big tits!" Poorly photoshopped-in really big tits, as it turns out, not that the client can tell.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Considering an atomic bomb is about to detonate, the lively mariachi music can feel a bit jarring.
  • Smug Smiler: In the film, the audience is introduced to Arthur Herk via a freeze-frame taken at a point when he has an incredibly self-satisfied look on his face.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the book's "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, Arthur recovers from the toad poison and tries to squeal on his employer; but the authorities find no evidence, and Arthur dies a few weeks later in a suspicious "fishing accident." In the film, Arthur is last seen dragging his home's entertainment unit down the street, still pleading to the heavens to save his soul from his dog (who has Martha Stewart's face grafted on).
  • Start X to Stop X: Bufo marinus (the cane toad) originated in Latin America, but has become common in South Florida after "its introduction in the 1940's by well-meaning idiots who hoped that Bufo would control sugarcane pests… Before long, they had become the pests."
  • The Stoic: Ivan and Leonid barely show any emotion, whether they're conducting business or being held at gunpoint.
  • Stupid Crooks: Snake and Eddy are full-on, flat-out brain-dead dumb and lucky as hell. At one point Jenny (who has been taken hostage) snarks that they should "plead not guilty under pretense of being stupid" if they ever end up in court.
  • Take That!:
    • Snake shoots a television that's playing a Jerry Springer episode. Another character comments that it's about time.
    • Among John and Leo's many customers for illegal weapons in the Miami market are hunters "who, judging by the rifles they bought, were after deer that traveled inside armored personnel carriers", and professional drug cartel enforcers "who wanted guns that shot thousands of rounds per minute to compensate for the fact that their aim was terrible."
    • The famously chaotic Miami International Airport: "It was the standard airport-security operation, which meant it appeared to have been designed to hassle law-abiding passengers just enough to reassure them, while at the same time providing virtually no protection against criminals with an IQ higher than celery."
  • Taught by Television: One of the feds learned a lot from the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel.
  • Toad Licking: Spotlighted by the author, who briefly explains the cane toad's proliferation throughout South Florida, and notes, "some people have been known to lick these toads to get high. Sometimes these people die. You could argue they deserve to." Also why Arthur spends a significant portion of the book believing that his dog now has the head of Elizabeth Dole and wants to eat his soul. (Technically it was an Accidental Kiss, but the effect's the same.) In the film version, this is changed to Martha Stewart.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The two thieves are told to turn on their "garbage disposal" at airport security and promptly do so. It never dawns on them that they just activated a time bomb. It's even more blatant in the movie, where the countdown starts before they even close the lid. Snake, in particular, is so convinced that the contents of the suitcase are his ticket to "kingpin" status, that he insists on holding on to it as it is pushed out of an airplane and plunges with it into the ocean, with less than a minute left on the timer.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Puggy really likes his Fritos. It's apparently the primary reason why he travelled all the way from Boston to Miami.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: Puggy is paid to do this. The people at the electoral booth don't care in the slightest.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Played for Laughs when (due to Walter's company Cutting Corners) a detention center's automatic cell doors open during a lightning storm, "leaving it up to the prisoners to decide, on the honor system, whether they wished to remain in jail. As it happened, 132 prisoners, out of a possible 137, decided they did not wish to remain in jail.''