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People Don't Realize This, but Loneliness is Underrated

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | July 21, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | July 21, 2009 |

I’m going to aim to temper my enthusiasm here, but in an incredibly rare turn of events, something in the world of movies has actually elevated my heart rate. It’s a rare enough instance that I’m not writing about a comic-book movie, a remake, a reboot, a sequel, or a Nic Cage movie (or all of the above), but — as of right now — I can write about a romantic-comedy of manners that I’m actually very excited about, and one that doesn’t star Kate Hudson, The Rainbow Killer, or a Jessica (that’s only because the movie hasn’t been cast yet, so I’m allowed to think the best of its prospects).

Indeed, Warner Brothers has bought the rights to James Collins’ Beginner’s Greek, which was one of the best novels of last year. In my review of it, I wrote:

In a way, I suppose, you could still call Beginner’s Greek chick lit, if you define the term broadly enough — it’s a layered love story slash comedy of manners, and these days, unless there’s a high-brow concept or a sci-fi element involved, love stories tend to get tossed into the same big chick-lit rubbish bin. But with 400 pages of intelligent prose, replete with smart literary and pop culture references, rather than tiresome nods to shoes or labels, Beginner’s Greek is not exactly typical beach-reading fare. It’s old-fashioned chick-lit, a love story written the way it ought to be — part Jane Austen, part Tom Wolfe, and part Louis Auchincloss, the rare fictional romantic comedy (with hints of satire) that goes back to the basics — boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy fights to get girl back — and succeeds based largely on the strength of the well-drawn, crazy-likable characters.

And Warner was not only smart to snatch up the rights to Beginner’s Greek, but they aren’t throwing it to some dog-and-pony writing team that will extract all that was good about the novel and leave only the character names, the title, and a few nods to the plotline. No: They’ve given scriptwriting duties to Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the phenomenal writing team behind (500) Days of Summer. They are kind of perfect for the book, which is about a guy who falls in love with a woman, loses her phone number, and discovers — much later — that she’s married to his best friend. I know it sounds silly, but believe me: It’s a great goddamn book and should make a great movie.

At least until Warner tosses away Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber’s script in favor of a more formulaic, studio-friendly approach. Until then I remain faithfully happy. In my pants. I think I’m going to go listen to Hall & Oates and baseball bat some zombies now. Just for funsies.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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