Another nasty, funny satire from the author of Smokeout (2000), this one taking potshots at a corporation ever so slightly reminiscent of the Walt Disney Company and at a planned community just faintly resembling Disney’s Celebration.
Days away from celebrating its 25-year jubilee, Whipple World is a crass, ludicrously depraved Orlando, Florida, theme park complex run by sleazy reprobates and reformed foot fetishists. Anything can be faked at Whipple World, and people who don't like it might find themselves thrown into a vat of bio-engineered flesh-eating bacteria. The park drives the profits of the larger Whipple World empire, which includes tobacco, pharmaceuticals, cars, broadcasting, and “a record studio known for its work with artists who like to cuss.” Date focuses on two attractions: Wild Dominion, a disastrously themed zoo stocked with predators that eat each other, and Serenity, an aptly deadening ringer for Disney’s famous failure at theming the American small town. As happened at Celebration, some of Serenity’s residents are fighting back. Date’s premise is that Whipple World, under the control of soulless bean-counter chairman Lew Peters, has strayed from the kindly, family-oriented values of its visionary founder, Waldo Emerson Whipple. (The author disregards the historical Walt’s notorious anti-union, red-baiting activities in Hollywood.) Whipple’s niece Emma, a smart, pretty, but disenchanted public-relations executive who resides in Serenity, falls hard for jaded but genuine journalist Ernie Warner, whose attempt to do a puff piece on Serenity falls apart when both see that Serenity is anything but serene. They join the paltry resistance and race to expose the environmental havoc Whipple World has caused deep under Orlando’s water table.
Uproariously funny School-of-Carl-Hiaasen cautionary tale that delivers the one-two punch Mickey Mouse has been begging for.