Hollywood’s going through a new Golden Age of comedy. But as funny as they are, we don’t owe thanks for this period of soda-out-the-nostrils mirth to the likes of Judd Apatow or Sacha Baron Cohen.
Rather, it’s an army of studio suits, corporate executives, jobbing screenwriters, vulgarian producers and wily agents who have me reliably LOL.
The most recent absolute crack-up — and one they really should’ve announced on April 1 — is that DreamWorks and Hasbro are circling each other for a movie based on View-Master.
Yep, that stereoscopic toy, which debuted in that Golden Year of 1939, beloved by generations of Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers, is — at long last! — destined for the big screen.
And as it’s a 3-D toy it’ll translate to the new 3-D cinema. Amazing!
Even more hilariously, the screenwriters reportedly taking this simple plastic gizmo, whose origins are in the gimmicks of the 19th century that led to cinema itself, are Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, the guys who recently helped transform the art form with “Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.”
Obviously, the script will revolve around a Gen Y kid — let’s call him, um, Shia –who buys one of the doodads his Gen X dad used to love at a yard sale only to find it’s actually of alien origin and when he looks into it his dreams come to life! (Megan Fox beckoning, a pimped-out Camaro and giant robots spring to mind.)
The thing will go gangbusters, just so long as the multiplex kids can actually be made aware of what a View-Master is. Call me crazy, but I’m saying the Generation Y and Z version of such a nostalgic looking-glass is the Sony Trinitron.
Is it too early to make a big-screen adaptation of a 1993 CRT TV? Surely some young'uns out there are already feeling nostalgic for these creaky old beasts and the worlds (“Melrose Place”) they opened up.
As my pal Stu VanAirsdale of Movieline rightly pointed out when reporting the View-Master story, this opens up a whole new vista of Hollywood optioning opportunities.
Studio “creatives” only have to wander to the nearest suburban corner on a Saturday afternoon and spend a few bucks at a yard sale for inspiration. Look for, in rapid succession, deals done for “Hungry Hungry Hippos”, “Rubik’s Cube” and “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots”.
And what I wouldn’t give to own the rights to “Sea Monkeys” or “Barrel Of Monkeys”, both of which would make ideal Jack Black projects.
But why stop there? Why spend money on brand names when there are public domain properties like “Tic-Tac-Toe” and “Hangman” available? And don’t limit the “thinking” to just games, people! Why not adapt dusty old Chicago LPs, “Hang In There” cat posters and flared jeans?
The yard sales and thrift stores are a gold mine! (God forbid, though, anyone should start flicking through the box marked “Books” and try to restart adaptations of marvelous musty old paperbacks like “Flicker” or “The Alienist”).
It’s news of View-Master-style projects that’s funnier than anything we’ve seen deliberately scripted in a Hollywood comedy this year. And more spectacular and jaw-dropping — in the WTF sense — than Michael Bay’s masterpiece.
But it’s on consistency that we often judge comedians, and in this respect the Hollywood news cycle is to be admired because day-in, day-out, it delivers the laughs. Just from the past few days, for instance.
Remember Stephen Dorff? Somehow after making Uwe Boll’s “Alone In The Dark” and “FeardotCom” — two of the worst genre flicks released to cinemas in the 21st century — he managed to get a gig in “Public Enemies”.
Good for him, right? Well, what’s that led to in the past two days is talk that his 1987 debut “The Gate” is to be remade — in 3-D! — and that Dorff will star in a “Blade” origin story based around his Deacon Frost character.
These projects are so obscure, and so surreally timed, as to seem like a sophisticated in-joke. What next? I’m saying it’s time for him and Natasha Henstridge to make that “Riders” sequel!
Fans of broader comedy are served, too, with news that a “Baywatch” big-screen reimagining is on the way. The twist? It’s to be a comedy!
The movie version of “T.J. Hooker” is going to be a yuckfest too, and it might even star William Shatner!
You’d be forgiven for thinking these ran first as stories on “The Onion” and were mistakenly picked up as news. Same goes for hearing that “Major League 4” is in the works. The only way that could be funnier would be if Sam Mendes was directing, from a script by David Hare.
And then, of course, there’s the “Asteroids” movie which, surely, moves cinematic creativity ever closer to “Game Over” status.
So, keep it coming Hollywood movers-and-shakers! I, along with millions of others who love guffawing about this stuff over a drink or 26, salute you and we eagerly await tomorrow’s news. Will it be a bigscreen “Small Wonder”?
A Ramen Noodles movie? A “Battlefield Earth” reboot? Whatever it is, we’ll be laughing into our beers because, hell, it beats crying about it.