Somewhere in America—in fact, lots of places in America—people are getting married every day with no problem larger than, say, the flower arrangements being the wrong shade of vermillion, or Aunt Zadie getting seated next to Cousin Mary’s “no-good” husband. For the most part, weddings go off as intended: No cops barge in, no destitute international refugees plant themselves in the bridal suite and the reception is certainly not visited by an amorous orangutan . . . unless one’s nuptials are slated to take place within the pages of Dave Barry’s riotous new novel, Insane City.
Barry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist who last year teamed up with former SNL writer Alan Zweibel for side-splitting (and mind-bending) shenanigans in Lunatics, sets this marriage-ceremony-gone-mad in his adoptive home city of Miami, whose always exotic and often surreal landscapes play a central role in the proceedings. While he has appropriated some familiar plot points from other pop-culture touchstones (the über-rich and disapproving dad from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and the bachelor party gone off the rails from The Hangover), once they are deposited into the Barry Comedic Genius Machine, they come out the other side with a shot of wry . . . and a twist.
The hero, Seth Weinstein, is a good-natured, underachieving naïf whose “profession” is writing social-media blurbs for feminine hygiene products. Bride-to-be Tina Clark, on the other hand, is “a fast-rising, plugged-in lawyer in a D.C. firm that specialized in social causes and getting on television.” With the means and the might to craft a wedding celebration worthy of a Bravo miniseries, she has assigned Seth two tasks: get to the wedding on time, and be sure to bring her hand-crafted, hugely expensive, one-of-a-kind ring. As her wedding planner observes, “the bride is coordinating the Normandy invasion and the groom is remembering to zip up his fly.”
But can he do it? [Hint: this is a Dave Barry novel.]
Cue the ICE agents, a stripper, two ex-cop bodyguards nicknamed “the Tinker Bells,” the Governor of Florida, a pirate boat captain, a substance-abusing prospective sister-in-law, a trio of illegal Haitian immigrants who quite literally wash up on shore . . . and an orangutan.
The eventual champion of Barry’s comic, cosmic prenuptial game of Chutes and Ladders is determined by simply not getting done in before getting to “I do.” “Ay,” as a fellow comic author by the name of Shakespeare once observed, “there’s the rub.”
Thane Tierney lives in Los Angeles, and successfully co-planned his first and only wedding with his lovely bride, Carol, in the previous millennium.