Today in news that caught my attention: Rob McElhenney, co-creator and co-star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is directing, writing, and producing a “family action adventure” called Figment for Legendary Pictures. According to Deadline, it’s about “an imaginative boy and his family who are thrown for a loop when their greatest fears come to life” and “has thematic aspirations to be comparable to a Goonies or E.T..”
Nothing odd about that. Based on what little we know about Figment, it sounds like the sort of thing I’d like to see. The weirdness comes in when you consider that IaSiP is like a more misanthropic Seinfeld that is unapologetically… how shall I put this?… distasteful in the topics it mines for comedy. There are episodes about abortion, cancer, and child molestation, and that’s all in the first season. It’s hilarious as hell, but it’s not for the easily offended. In the episode where Charlie Day’s character puts on a musical, it’s pretty clear if you read the lyrics that it’s about his creepy pedo uncle (a recurring guest star) molesting him when he was younger. Danny DeVito’s character is supposed to sing “You gotta pay the Troll Tole/If you wanna get into that boy’s soul,” only he keeps mispronouncing “boy’s soul” as “boy’s hole.” The project McElhenney is best known for is not particularly child-friendly.
So that got me thinking: What other directors would I be shocked to see doing a kid’s movie, and what might those kid’s movies be like?
Sixth grader Calvin (Michael Caine) is thrown into a spiral of guilt and self-loathing when his first girlfriend Suzie skins her knee in a horrific jungle gym accident. Driven to prove himself, he joins the school football team—but can he hope to overcome their rivals for the state championship, not to mention work past his debilitating
manboypain to achieve ultimate victory? Featuring Cillian Murphy with a bag over his head as the team mascot.
Nicolas Winding Refn
In this Disney Channel made-for-TV movie, free-spirited MacKayla’s workaholic divorcee father sends her to military boot summer camp [shut up, it’s a thing] after an innocent school prank goes awry. Oh no! Will she be able to inject a little fun into the lives of her new sad sack friends with her infectious charm, can-do attitude, and sudden bouts of brutal violence? Tune in on October 28th at 6/7 central to find out!
Inspired by carefree, not at all childhood-scarring classics like Homeward Bound, McQueen’s jaunt into kid’s movies stars Michael Fasssbender as the voice of Spot, a young bulldog whose adventurous spirit is tested when he’s separated from his family when they take a vacation to the Siberian tundra. Children will watch in raptures as an increasingly desperate Spot wanders through the frozen wasteland, only to eventually die of hunger and exposure, cold and alone, in a snowbank mere feet from his owners’ ill-advised campsite. The audience is meant to know that Spot has gone to a better place, finally freed from wordly suffering, yet the ostensibly hopeful scene does nothing do compensate for the sheer soul-crushing despair forced upon its audience over the course of the previous three hours.
A motley gang of precocious youngsters—Rudy (Steve Buscemi), Big Papa (Samuel L. Jackson), The Boss (Harvey Keitel), and Machete* (Danny Trejo)—wages a guerrilla war campaign to stop a big-shot developer from razing their local video rental store to build a strip mall. How much bloodshed is too much, and will they be able to get home by bedtime? Featuring a cameo from Tarantino himself as a lovable, unwashed hobo who lives behind a shoe store and gives our heroes advice on proper grenade-throwing techniques and how to kiss girls.
*Yeah, yeah, I know Machete is Rodriguez. He’s on loan. Go with it.
Lars von Trier
The less said bout von Trier’s adaptation of the French fairy tale La Belle aux cheveux d’or, the better. An entire generation of children can’t look at a baguette without bursting into tears.
All joking aside, you go, Rob. Do that passion project. There’s no one who unequivocally shouldn’t direct a kid’s movie based on their past output, except Uwe Boll, who shouldn’t direct anything based on his past output. Hell, Scorsese did Hugo, and that was great. I’m just being a snarky asshole. It’s my inner Reynolds coming out.
Obligatory Sunny video:
ROCK FLAG AND EAGLEEEEEEE.