Briefly: Given the sort of scripts studios have been buying recently, I can’t really fault a screenwriter for figuring that the couple months it takes to write a spec script “updating” classic characters and adding unrelated wild elements might be time well spent. Because while crazy stuff has been selling, from our perspective what are the chances that a studio is really going to buy Huck and Tom, a script in which Mark Twain‘s characters Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are adults in a “re-imagining of the classic duo in the vein of Snow White and the Huntsman,” with “supernatural elements.”?

Oh. Crap. Paramount bought it. Andrew Burg wrote the script — and I haven’t read it, maybe it is quite good — and Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Oblivion) are producing it with Matt Lopez (story and co-writer on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice). This is just getting going, and it seems like one of those projects that could easily languish in development for a long time, if not forever. And it’s not like there has never been a bad version of these characters brought to the screen. But supernatural additions? Really? Jeez. [THR]

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Scarlett Johansson may seem like an unlikely lead for a Judd Apatow film, but in this context her casting actually makes a lot of sense. Johansson has signed on to star in Can a Song Save Your Life?, which will be written and directed by John Carney (Once) and produced by Apatow. The film follows “a washed-up A&R man who forms a passionate bond with a young singer-songwriter (Johansson) from out of town.”

The project calls for Johansson to sing, which shouldn’t be a problem for the actress. Johansson is in fact a professional singer, having released an album of Tom Waits covers titled Anywhere I Lay My Head back in 2008 and a collaboration with Pete Yorn called Break Up in 2009. Though the male lead has yet to be cast, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Carrey have been rumored as possibilities. (FWIW, I vote Ruffalo.) Shooting on the film will begin in New York City next year. [The Playlist]

After the jump, new gigs for the stars of Twilight, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the late-’90s/early-’00s teen alien show Roswell. Gosh, remember that?

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Holy Controversy: Religulous Reviews Hit Web

It is going to be quite fun watching film critics in the MSM tackle Religulous, the anti-religions (re: not anti-organized religions) documentary from director Larry Charles (Borat) and Bill Maher. Reviewing this film practically demands that one states his/her personal beliefs—sort of like with Iraq War docs, but, you know, bigger—and judging from two of the first reader reviews on AICN, Maher doesn’t leave much wiggle room: it’s the “you do” or “you don’t” proposition. And unlike Ben Stein’s Expelled, Religulous will have a much higher media profile when it’s released this October.

The first reviewer is an evangelical Christian who’s a fan of Maher’s canceled Politically Incorrect talk-show. While the film offered “chuckles,” the reviewer goes on to say that Maher’s take on religion(s) is ultimately one-sided. But isn’t that Maher’s point? There is no middle ground? Moreover, the reviewer took issue with the “mission statement” that Maher makes at the film’s conclusion (spoiler alert)…

“[Maher] dismisses all of Christianity based on the supernatural events in the Bible, which he says couldn’t have happened, and complains that it doesn’t present itself the way he personally wants it to. …The kicker is the ending. (MAJOR SPOILER – I guess): After 90 minutes of interviews, Bill states that all religion is evil and must be destroyed for the good of humankind. He comes to this conclusion based on the Koran’s and the Bible’s predictions of destruction of the world at the “end times” and feels that these religions want the world to be destroyed because God or Allah has ordained it.”

I wonder if “destroy” is actually said. The other review is from a “lapsed Catholic” who is neither a “believer” or “nonbeliever.” This reviewer expected a documentary that clowned people like Borat, but was struck by its seriousness. He says that Maher doesn’t victimize anyone, and even though he tends to “preach” his atheism, he doesn’t cut off the religious people he interviews in the film (including someone (not Seth Rogen) from the Church of Cannabis).

“All in all, I must say that I really enjoyed the film. If you are like me and go into this film expecting another “Borat”, you are either going to get more or less than what you bargained for, all depending on your perspective of religion (obviously). I will also say though, that if you are looking to be offended, the odds are pretty good.”

In a recent issue of TIME magazine, a cover story on Mark Twain delved into that man’s candid remarks on religion(s) and atheism, which sounded a lot like Maher’s today. Given the amount of time that has passed since Twain’s passing, I highly doubt this film will change the minds of any viewers over the age of 25.

Discuss: What do you make of the “spoiler mission statement”? How do you think the MSM will treat/review this documentary? How do you expect it to perform at the box office?

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