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Intersection of Life and Faith

Dave Berry’s Lunatics Hilariously Lives up to its Name

  • Chad Estes Contributing Writer
  • 2012 23 Jan
Dave Berry’s <i>Lunatics</i> Hilariously Lives up to its Name

Author: Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel

Title: Lunatics

Publisher: Putnum

What do you get when you combine a zany, retired, newspaper columnist with one of the original writers from Saturday Night Live? If you answered "a couple of lunatics that would write a laughing-out-loud, ridiculous book that poked fun at society and celebrities," then you have pinned the tail on these two donkeys. 

Dave Berry, who became famous with his syndicated, humor column at the Miami Herald, works hand in glove with Alan Zweibel, an Emmy and Tony Award-winning author, to pen a book on two ignorant and very unlucky, New Jersey characters.

The lunacy of their story is similar to the treasure hunt in the movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the only difference being these two characters don't have a plan of where they are going, what in the world they are doing, or how in the heck to get back home.

Philip Horkman is your typical mild mannered business man. He owns a pet store (peculiarly named "The Wine Shop"), is married with one daughter, and referees girls' soccer games on the weekends. Jeffery Peckerman is about as rude and insensitive as they come. He swears, causes conflict, acts before thinking, and has offensive habits and biases that he shares openly without shame.

These two men's lives are thrust together when Horkman rules that Peckerman's daughter was off sides in a soccer match. After a shouting match between the two the conflict should have blown over - but of course not in this crazy, made up universe of Berry and Zweibel.

When, by chance, they meet up again in the pet shop the conflict explodes and Peckerman flees the shop while carrying Horkman's prized lemur. Pretty soon they have both run over each other with their vehicles, stolen each other's property, and have the authorities hot on their tales. The melee also includes Central Park Zoo, a hospital, a helicopter, a cruise ship, an insulin pump, Charro, Donald Trump, a nun, and the Chuck E. Cheese mouse.

The tag-team sharing of this comedy is its genius. The chapters volley back and forth between Horkman's telling of the story (which are all written by Zweibel) and Peckerman's (which are all written by Berry). The one-upmanship game between the characters is fueled by the fun that the writers are having with each other.

Although the two characters despise each other they also find some cosmic goodness coming from their partnership. They go from being national goats to international superstars on a Forest Gump-like journey in less than a month. Their lives, nor the world they live in, will ever be the same again.

Berry's observational humor is keen as always, including his speculation that at least 15% of the TSA employees are actually terrorists that fund their operations by confiscating seemingly harmless personal hygiene products like shampoos and perfumes from travelers and sell them to Amway for a profit, who, in turn, sells them back to the customers who originally lost them.

Sensitive readers must be warned that while the humor in Lunatics is ridiculous, much of it is just crude bathroom humor - and in the hands of these two writers some of it is just ridiculously offensive, side-splitting bathroom humor complete with sexual innuendos and rude language. Your wife will want to know what is so funny but you won't be able to read it out loud without getting in Peckerman-sized trouble yourself. 

*This review first published 1/23/2012