While journalist and documentarian Jon Ronson is currently undergoing a metamorphosis into a screenwriter, the first film to bear his name is not from one of his own scripts but has been fictionalized, and rather heavily so, from his non-fiction book The Men Who Stare at Goats by Newcastle scribe Peter Straughan. What Ronson set down on paper as a darkly comic and increasingly scary investigation into the American military’s more fanciful, or eventually insane, experimentation and research has become an oddball comedy with a tinge of the surreal. Many of Ronson’s ideas run between the lines of Straughan’s invented plot, though I don’t think I personally could have found the film to feel any more different to Ronson’s book or in-parallel TV documentary.

It’s a win-win, though, as far as the book is concerned because those who love the film (and as you’ll find out after the break, that’s an awful lot of people) are bound to find the extra information every bit as engrossing and possibly even more surprising, while those who find some of the film’s seemingly contradictory attitudes towards the paranormal and supernatural or it’s unexpectedly upbeat tone to be off putting will find the book more satisfyingly shaded. I do think, though, that adding sweetness for palatability seems like a curious misstep when you already know your recipe appeals to those with a taste for the bitter.

I’m a very big fan of Ronson’s writing and TV work, so I took great pleasure in interviewing him about Goats. We spoke for over an hour in total but almost immediately, I think, he sensed my disappointment in the film. Neither his enthusiasm or candor were curbed by this and, anyway, as Ronson told me I’m definitely in the minority and the film has been going down superemely well so far.

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About a month ago, we told you that Columbia had picked up a spec script by Mike White, actor and writer on School of Rock and Freaks and Geeks. Now, with White also appearing soon in Zombieland (you can see him briefly in the trailer), comes more good news for the guy: HBO has greenlit the pilot for his show Enlightened. Read More »


There was a minute where Mike White seemed poised to break out in a big way. He wrote and co-starred in School of Rock after being a supervising producer and writer on Freaks and Geeks. But the time after School of Rock seemed to be fallow as many of his next projects have taken time to develop. Which is why I’m happy to see that, according to Variety, White has sold a spec script to Columbia called Babe in the Woods. (He also appears in Columbia’s Zombieland; you can see him briefly in the red band trailer released today.) More on the new project after the jump. Read More »

School of Rock 2: America Rocks

Remember that pointless School of Rock sequel we warned you about a couple weeks ago? Well it’s happening. Paramount Pictures has signed Jack Black to reprise his role as Dewey Finn in School of Rock 2: America Rocks. According to Variety, Mike White’s script follows Finn leading a group of summer school students on a cross-country field trip that “delves into the history of rock ‘n’ roll and explores the roots of blues, rap, country and other genres.” I want to believe that this is something more than just a money grab. I want to believe that White and director Richard Linklater, who is also signed on to return, returned because of the story and not just a bundle of cash.

Discuss: Now that you’ve had the chance to read a short plot synopsis, is there any chance School of Rock 2 might be a worthy sequel?

Reader Poll: School of Rock 2

Last night, the Slashfilm staff got together via Second Life to brain storm strategy for something really trivial. Screenwriter, comedian and all around decent guy, Mike White, was kind enough to alert the online press that he had completed the script to School of Rock 2. Our dilemma: What could Slashfilm offer Jack Black and Mike White in order for them NOT to make this totally unneeded sequel aka “Jack Black teaches a spiky-haired kid wearing snowboard goggles on his forehead how to ‘play the skins, dude!’ part 2”?

Money was out the window. The original film grossed $80 million domestically. And our staffers did not aspire a sacrifice to Black in the form of bad tattoos. Nobody here hates or despises School of Rock like we do, say, Disaster Movie. Richard Linklater‘s was a family film, a twee bro-down, that didn’t totally suck even, and if you had a bad day at work, maybe you even cried watching it. But that was 2003.

Basically, Slashfilm doesn’t want to write about another SoR or face down its inevitable barrage of “ready-to-rock tweens” happy day marketing. Please world, no more endearing kids learning about Floyd via a chalk board, playing air guitars, throwing up limp \m/s or seeing Jack Black imitate AC/DC. Rock Band and Guitar Hero are enough. Plus, the sequel already exists. It’s called The Rocker and it “rocks out” on August 1st.

Our avatars shrugged and we went our separate ways. We decided to leave the sequel’s fate in the hands of our readers. Do you guys/gals/tween + hard rock loathers want to see/read/hear about School of Rock 2 in the near future/ever? Send the talent/studio involved a quick smoke signal by voting in our poll. Thanks!

Jack Black to star in Edgar Wright’s THEM?


While interviewing screenwriter turned director Mike White (Chuck & Buck, School of Rock, Nacho Libre) about his new movie Year of the Dog, we were able to briefly talk about his upcoming collaboration with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright:

“I’m writing a script with him [Edgar] now. It’s like a conspiracy theory comedy horror movie. It’s a little bit out of my wheel house and a little bit more in his wheel house. I loved Shaun of the Dead and we talked about writing something together, so once our movies are finally out there and put to bed, we’re going to get together and hopefully bang it out.”

We asked White when he would work with Jack again, and this is when things got a little interesting:

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Year of the Dog Poster

Year of the DogOne of the films I really dug at Sundance this year was Year of The Dog, the directorial debut of Mike White.

You probably know White from his quirky screenplays (Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl, School of Rock, Nacho Libre). You might also recognize him as Buck from Chuck and Buck, or the religious security guard from Good Girl. His new comedy stars Molly Shannon as an obsessive dog lover who tries to find meaning after her dog dies. Laura Dern, John C. Reilly, and Peter Sarsgaard also star.

You can see the first theatrical poster to the left. I love the colorful Thumbsucker/Squid and the Whale like illustration. And as always, Left click to see a higher res version.

Year of the Dog hits theaters on April 13th 2007.