Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
Can’t say I really get the mini-trend of remaking documentary films as dramatic features. OK, Werner Herzog (Little Dieter Needs to Fly –> Rescue Dawn) gets a pass, mainly because he’s Herzog. But translating Grey Gardens into a fictionalized piece robbed the story of something essential and, I think, added nothing.
Last year saw the release of Young@Heart, a great little documentary about a group of senior citizens that performs their own versions of rock songs. Working Title Pictures picked up the rights to remake the film as a dramatic feature before the doc was even released. Now the company has a writer in mind for the project: Will Reiser, a former producer on Da Ali G Show.
THR reports on the deal, and notes that just because Reiser is a former Ali G guy doesn’t mean that this version of Young@Heart’s story will be all comedy. Reiser is also the man behind the film I’m With Cancer, which has James McAvoy attached to play a mid-’20s guy diagnosed with cancer, and Seth Rogen attached to play his friend. What will Reiser do with the story of seniors who find new purpose in reworking songs from artists like Coldplay, Jimi Hendrix and Sonic Youth? I’m curious.
Here’s another question: how much will this thing cost? I imagine there was some leeway given with the licensing fees for music included in the documentary. I don’t know the backstory to the production there, and if any songs the group was performing couldn’t be included because of rights issues or lack of funds. But when it comes to a feature version I wouldn’t expect rightsholders to be forgiving at all.
Despite my general distrust of the doc –> dramatic remake, there is cause for hope here. The outfit behind the project is Working Title, and while they’re not a company with a spotless track record (lookin’ at you, Thunderbirds) they’re still way up towards the top of the list when it comes to producing films of quality. Staying positive, then.
The original trailer for Fox Searchlight’s release of Young@Heart, the documentary, is below.