Four-time Academy award nominated writer/director/producer Jason Reitman and his Right of Way Films production banner have optioned movie rights to Saturday Night Live writer Simon Rich‘s novel Elliot Allagash. Rich will adapt his book for the screen, and while Reitman intends to produce the adaptation, THR is unsure if he will direct it or not.
The book is a return to teenage years, telling the story of a high school loser named Seymour who gets a life-changing makeover after meeting a fabulously wealthy transfer student named Elliot. Seymour is taught how to gain popularity and power, under one condition… he must agree to do whatever Elliot tells him to do.
I don’t believe Reitman will end up directing Elliot Allagash. Last we heard, Reitman was hard at work writing an adaptation of Joyce Maynard‘s novel, Labor Day.He is also developing a football movie titled Whispers in Bedlam and a untitled project about a Hockey referee. It seems like Reitman is taking his career to more serious award-caliber stories for a possibly older audience, but I’d love to see him return to high school. I think there is much Reitman could bring to the coming of age genre of films.
Here is the official plot description from the book:
Simon Rich dazzled readers with his absurdist sense of humor in his hilarious collections Ant Farm and Free-Range Chickens. Now comes Rich’s rollicking debut novel, which explores the strangest, most twisted, and comically fraught terrain of them all: high school.
Seymour Herson is the least popular student at Glendale, a private school in Manhattan. He’s painfully shy, physically inept, and his new nick-name, “chunk style,” is in danger of entering common usage. But Seymour’s solitary existence comes to a swift end when he meets the new transfer student: Elliot Allagash, evil heir of America’s largest fortune. Elliot’s rampant delinquency has already gotten him expelled from dozens of prep schools around the country. But despite his best efforts, he can’t get himself thrown out of Glendale; his father has simply donated too much money. Bitter and bored, Elliot decides to amuse himself by taking up a challenging and expensive new hobby: transforming Seymour into the most popular student in the school.
An unlikely friendship develops between the two loners as Elliot introduces Seymour to new concepts, like power, sabotage, and vengeance. With Elliot as his diabolical strategist and investor, Seymour scores a spot on the basketball team, becomes class president, and ruthlessly destroys his enemies. Yet despite the glow of newfound popularity, Seymour feels increasingly uneasy with Elliot’s wily designs. For an Allagash victory is dishonorable at its best, and ruinous at its worst. Cunningly playful and wickedly funny, Elliot Allagash is a tale about all of the incredible things that money can buy, and the one or two things that it can’t.
Judd Apatow gave a blurb to Rich’s first novel calling it “suspenseful and hilarious.” Random House published the 240-page hardcover book in May. It is available on Amazon for around $15-16. You can read an excerpt of the book here. Here is Simon’s advertisement for the book (featuring Bill Hader):
Rich is also a former president of Harvard Lampoon, and has authored two collections of short stories “Ant Farm” and “Free-Range Chickens”. While he has no produced screenwriting credits to list off, he wrote a comedy spec script titled “When a Stranger Calls a Dude” with Bill Hader for Judd Apatow.