I like Carl Hiaasen's quirky, clever Florida crime novels, such as Sick Puppy and Stormy Weather. And yet, unlike Elmore Leonard's books, no one has succeeded in making a good movie from Hiaasen's work. (I won't go near the movie adaptation of Striptease myself.)

I hoped that Hoot, adapted from Hiaasen's book for young adults, would finally be that successful movie. Hoot isn't a bad movie by any means, and compared to other contemporary children's films it is practically a masterpiece. But it doesn't possess that chaotic hilarity I associate with Hiaasen's best writing. Even though the characters do outrageous things -- perhaps because of this -- Hoot is a safe, slight film. A gun in the book becomes a baseball bat in the movie. A kid's intentional trap for a school bully becomes a happy accident. Admittedly, Hiaasen's book Hoot is a diluted version of his usual writing for grown-ups, but the book is better able to convey the message that children can realistically find ways to help with environmental and other issues.