Variety today reports that Kevin Kline has been added to the cast of Charlie Kaufman’s Frank or Francis, alongside Steve Carell, Jack Black, and Nic Cage. That’s great, because I’ve been waiting for Kevin Kline’s return to the comedic brilliance of A Fish Called Wanda since 1988. But, and perhaps more importantly, it gives us an opportunity to examine Kaufman’s latest, and what it’s about. The folks at ThePlaylist have had a chance to read the script, and holy Meryl Streep’s tits does it ever sound nutty. Here’s the overview:
“Frank or Francis,” in our estimation, feels like a deliciously good and contemptuous (though self-aware) screed/send-up of the film industry, not only, the graffiti-with-punctuation bloggers, but the entire machine: fatuous filmmakers, vapid PR people, self-absorbed writers, blowhard actors, and last but not least it serves up a jiujitsu-like takedown on the ego-driven, vacuous meat-parade that is the Academy Awards. No stone is left unturned nor is there much of any kind of hero in the story as everyone is as equally moronic and narcissistic as the other. Still, as Kaufman denotes, it also says a lot of things about society, culture, human nature (and race) and human behavior—albeit some of it in his patently strange and sometimes baffling way.
Yay, jiu-jitsu and meat parades are my favorite things! Anyway, the main arc tells three parallel stories, of…
- Frank Arder (Steve Carell, presumably), a pretentious auteur whose film You, in which he plays all the characters, some in blackface, gets nominated for 29 Academy Awards.
- Francis (Jack Black), a “self-important, arrogant film blog commenter”, and…
- Alan Modell (Nic Cage), “a comedian with a faltering career who is known for his wildly popular, immensely moronic ‘Fat Dad’ roles.”
And then it gets even better (and waaay weirder) in some of the details. These might be spoilers, but you probably won’t understand them anyway (*covers soy chai with latest issue of The Atlantic*):
There are two love stories for both titular leads, singing throughout (more on that in a moment), a Romanian waitress and two talking ghost-like thumbs who have a Romanian political agenda.
Aw, talking Romanian ghost thumbs AGAIN? Kaufman you hack.
Confusing matters more is Robert, a robot head programmed by Jonathan Waller, the director of a hit epic called, “Hiroshima.” When “Hiroshima” fails to win Best Picture, Jonathan and his brother Richard create Richard’s Head, the superwiz computer-brain programmed to write a screenplay that mathematically examines every successful screenplay in the history of movies and then makes one super-perfect script called, “God” (no, really).
I am not God, I am a unicorn. Sweet Jesus, I want to marry that entire paragraph.
And what makes this already bonkers story all the more bizarre? Half the dialogue, especially when people are writing on the Internet is sung. Yes, half it is sung aloud, and of course for no particular reason either, other than it’s perhaps Kaufman’s homage to movie musicals where characters break into song when they want to deliver the expository true feelings of their character (which makes this idea rather brilliant, given all the built-in movie references). It’s hyper meta: movies within movies of movies, credits for “Frank Or Francis” run in parallel to credits for other films on screen, it’s a bit hard to follow on the page, but it’s an outrageous riot. In some sense, it’s such a scathing indictment of Hollywood, it’s surprising anyone would ever be willing to make it, but it is Charlie Kaufman after all. [ThePlaylist]
Upon reading about Charlie Kaufman’s latest script, Tarantino’s coke wizard threw down his wizard hat and said, “F*ck this, man, I’m out,” then cooked up a speedball and flew away on Falkor the Luckdragon with Richard Kelly riding shotgun.
[Other Notes: Kaufman was recently interviewed in Time Out London]