Created by Donald Todd
“For a state shaped like a limp dick, it can sure fuck a person over.”
The idea among many Americans that Florida is the Great Wrong Place, filled with eccentrics and dumb-as-dirt yahoos, is not new, and the phrase “Florida Man” has been an internet meme for years.
So it’s no surprise that Florida Man, a 2023 Netflix comedy thriller popped up, hoping to hop on that train (it’s an easy hop). To be sure, overall it was entertaining, and some of the scenes are top-notch, but some of the others seem to have been tossed in stretch it all out to seven episodes.
Oh, the promos and early reviews whispered hints of Elmore Leonard and sharp-eyed viewers more notice a few plays from the Carl Hiaasen playbook, but ultimately it never quite reaches those heights. Still, it’s an enjoyable enough crime romp, full of guns, occasional gators and even a cameo by a hand grenade. There’s even a crazed out-of-state cop wandering Skink-like, in and out of the action, and it’s a hoot seeing the hero so punctuation-obsessed in the first episode, although that little quirk soon disappears.
So it’s all crazy, but not quite crazy enough.
The action kicks off in Philadelphia where recently divorced former cop and gambling addict MIKE VALENTINE is paying off his gambling debts by working as a debt collector for Moss Yankov, a young, unstable would-be Philadelphia gangster with major daddy issues. The only concession that Mike demands is that he won’t have to actually hurt anyone—just “scare” them.
Then Moss sends him off to Florida to bring back his runaway girlfriend Delly, promising the reluctant Mike that this “little job” will completely wipe out his debt. Of course, Moss is lying, and that’s even before he discovers that Mike and Delly have been sleeping together.
But there’s another problem. Mike grew up in Florida and his family (his father Sonny and his sister Patsy) are still there, and he has zero desire to return. It’s only when Moss promises to wipe out his debt that Mike reluctantly agrees to go. Well, that and finding out why Delly ran—he hasn’t a clue, either.
Seems Mike has some daddy issues of his own. He blames his father, a once-honest cop turned shady bar owner and drug smuggler, for his mother’s death years ago. And so he’d rather not deal with him at all. Patsy, he gets along with. She’s happy to see her big brother again.
But Delly wasn’t just running away from Moss—she was also on the hunt for a possible fortune in Spanish gold coins, tucked away in a truck that has disappeared into the watery depths of a giant sinkhole (how Florida is that?). The sinkhole that, coincidentally, Patsy’s doofus husband is in charge of filling. And the treasure that Sonny has decided he wants a piece of. Meanwhile, Mike’s ex, a Philadelphia cop, has shown up, ostensibly working a murder case
The story stumbles on, slipping and sliding around, and the characters all swirl around each other, and at times it doesn’t make much sense (coincidence playing too big a part), but the characters are solid and even likable, and well-cast. Édgar Ramírez plays Mike with an easy-going, burly bravado (although it’s unclear why he has an slight accent, when nobody else in his family does), Abbey Lee digs into the complexities of Delly without making her a muddle-headed bimbo, and its always good to see Anthony LaPaglia lumbering through a scene.
I’d love to see them all again, with a slightly tighter script, and the gonzo turned up a notch.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE…
But for lovers of pulp artwork they’re worth checking out.
- FLORIDA MAN
Created by Donald Todd
Writers: Donald Todd, Rheeqrheeq Chainey, Tom J. Astle, Álvaro Rodríguez, Nikki Toscano
Directors: Haifaa Al-Mansour, Julian Farino, Clark Gregg, Miguel Arteta
Executive producers: Donald Todd, Jason Bateman, Michael Costigan, and Miguel Arteta.
Starring Édgar Ramírez as MIKE VALENTINE
With Anthony LaPaglia as Sonny Valentine
Abbey Lee as Delly West
Otmara Marrero as Patsy
Lex Scott Davis as Iris
Emory Cohen as Moss Yankov
Isaiah Johnson as Benny
and Clark Gregg as Sheriff Ketcher
Also starring Clark Gregg, Sibongile Mlambo, Isaiah Johnson, Paul Schneider, Lauren Buglioli as Kaitlin Fox, Michael Esper, Leonard Earl Howze, Isabel Gameros, Judy Reyes, Mark Jeffrey Miller, Andres Sing
- “The Realest Goddamned Place on Earth” (April 13, 2023)
- “Welcome to Hell, Mike” (April 13, 2023)
- “The Chain” (April 13, 2023)
- “One More Day” (April 13, 2023)
- “Please Don’t wake Up” (April 13, 2023)
- “Should We Talk About the Corn?” (April 13, 2023)
- “Sunk Costs” (April 13, 2023)
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- May 1, 2023
The Bottom Line: You can always go home again in this new Netflix comedy thriller, but this ex-cop Florida Man doesn’t wanna—sinkholes, treasure, gators and rednecks are bad enough, but family? Sheesh!!!
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.