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Dave Barry Says Acting Career Is Over

26 Apr, 2006 By: Brendan Howard

When humorist Dave Barry — author of such works as “My Teenage Son's Goal in Life Is to Make Me Feel 3,500 Years Old” and Other Thoughts on Parenting From Dave Barry and “The Greatest Invention in the History of Mankind Is Beer” and Other Manly Insights From Dave Barry — met filmmaker Jeff Arch over “rum-based Hawaiian drinks” in Maui, Barry was surprised to learn that Arch wanted to make a movie of his book.

This book wasn't like Barry's 1999 novel Big Trouble, which was made into a 2001 film starring Tim Allen.

The Complete Guide to Guys doesn't have a plot,” Barry said. “But [Arch] told me, ‘No, no, I've had this vision of vignettes, and a couple will sort of tie it together.”

Barry liked Arch, so he went with it. The result is Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys (DVD $26.98, VHS rental), streeting May 30 (prebook May 8) from Monarch Home Video.

The movie is based on Barry's ruminations on men's obsession with tools, sports and avoiding other men in the restroom, and created a history of men from prehistory to the present. Cameos by former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and Monty Pythoner John Cleese joined on-screen couple Lochlyn Munro and Christina Moore. Then there was the next surprise: acting.

“[Arch] says, ‘You'll be in it,’ Barry said. “Oh, I thought I'd be the narrator, introduce a scene or two. I didn't realize I was going to be Bruce Willis in Die Hard.”

But Barry agreed to the challenge — one he's not looking to duplicate.

Every day of shooting would always start out so well for Barry.

“First, they want you to say the exact words and be in the perfect place,” he said. “I'm used to writing — delete this, change that, and you're done. Here, there are 300 people looking at you.

“Inevitably, I'd have learned my lines. I'd be driving to wherever the set was, I'd play my lines, 25 to 30 words, I'd have it nailed. On set, my brain would go [singing], ‘My baby does it … ’

The other problem was those scenes with Cleese.

“Cleese is very funny,” he said. “It turns out you're not allowed to laugh when you're in the scene. The first four or five takes, I'd laugh. [Jeff] would put less and less of me in the shot.”

Barry's family got in on the act, too. Wife and Miami Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman played Barry's wife. Daughter Sophie's work as a cavegirl got cut, Barry said, but she got to keep the costume and use it for Halloween.

Now that the film premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and is on its way to DVD, it's been back to writing for Barry. His latest book hit in January: Dave Barry's Money Secrets — Like, Why Is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?

“My acting career is over,” he said. “I'm kind of messing with a screenplay with an old friend of mine, but can we honestly say there isn't a person messing with a screenplay?”

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