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They're making a Gilligan's Island movie. Josh Gad is in it. This is the news we find ourselves facing today.
Gilligan's Island purists (there's a purist for everything) are probably hollering over the news of Gad at the center of this production. "The Book of Mormon kid as Gilligan? That's conflicts with my purism!" But as of yet, we're not entirely sure who Gad is set to play. The assumption: Gilligan. The official word: TBA. So, really, there are seven possible ways this movie can go...
Josh Gad as GilliganThe most straightforward adaptation of the sitcom, with Gad playing the bumbling title character who consistently thwarts his friends' attempts at escaping the confines of their desert island prison. Sight gags, goofy repartee, wacky laughs, and a simplistic message about believing in yourself and the people you love. Maybe Gad's Gilligan has a romantic flight with hometown gal Mary Ann? That'd sell. We mean, foster artistic merit. Directed by Shawn Levy.
Also starringThe Skipper... Kevin JamesThe Millionaire... Jason BatemanHis Wife... Allison JanneyThe Movie Star... Sofia VergaraThe Professor... Jon Hamm (in glasses!)Mary Ann... Ellie Kemper
Josh Gad as The SkipperYou know, for kids! If Gad takes on the role of the Skipper, a maritime man who has quite a few years on the rest of the characters, we might be seeing something in the vein of a Disney Channel vacation flick. Gad and his nephew "Gil" operate an ocean excursion for privileged youths and wind up on a crazy island adventure! Gad must wrangle these preteens (and teach them a few lessons about growing up) in this family-friendly 90-minute TV movie (with commercials). Rally the the small nation of people that wrote and directed the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies.
Also starringGilligan... Rico RodriguezThe Millionaire... One of the Sprouse twins (maybe not the one with the naked pictures scandal, just to be safe)His "Wife"... iCarlyThe Movie Star... Somebody named ZendayaThe Professor... The kid from Iron Man 3Mary Ann... My cousin Kylee recommended Bridget Mendler, but, admittedly, Kylee doesn't know what Gilligan's Island is
Josh Gad as The Millionaire The quirky indie! We've seen a lot of stylistic liberties taken with old television programs and books, with an extra dose of contemporary eccentricity injected into properties like Dark Shadows or Fantastic Mr. Fox. Casting Gad as the (Internet) millionaire would kick off this new Gilligan with that dry, satirical flavor we find in so many offbeat indie flicks, rendering the entire island adventure a venue for deadpan non sequiturs and (quite appropriately) ukulele solos. Is Noah Baumbach available? No? Damn.
Also starringGilligan... Jason SchwartzmanThe Skipper... Mark Ruffalo (is he still doing this stuff, or is he all Hulk now?)His Wife... Charlyne YiThe Professor... Mark DuplassThe Movie Star... Zoe Kazan, or a Zoe Kazan equivalentMary Ann... Greta Gerwig, obviously
Josh Gad as His WifeThe broader-than-broad cross-dressing comedy! The kind of humor you find on the cutting room floor of Yogi Bear. If there's time to work in a plot between instances of human (and animal) flatulence, so be it. Overweight Gad playing the butt of every joke as Thurston Howell III's hilariously unattractive wife? That's not just comedy, it's America! Brett Ratner is already signed on for a three-picture deal.
Also starringGilligan, The Skipper, The Millionaire, The Movie Star, and The Professor... Eddie MurphyMary Ann... An actual woman that they rope in for some semblance of a romantic arc
Josh Gad as The Movie Star The classy Oscar candidate! Occasionally, a TV adaptation (i.e., The Fugitive) will reach far and beyond the constraints of its source material and actually churn out awards-caliber material. Casting Gad as a subversion of what we view as the epitome of traditional "celebrity" already lends itself to a more poignant and pensive Gilligan's Island than any of us might have anticipated. We're talking Sophia Coppola territory here. A drama that really says something about what it means for a septet of disparate humans to fend for themselves on a desert island.
Also starringGilligan... Michael B. JordanThe Skipper... Christian Bale (he'll gain the weight)The Millionaire... Jean DujardinHis Wife... Marion CotillardThe Professor... Sean Penn — is he still allowed to make movies?Mary Ann... Rooney Mara
Josh Gad as The Professor The sci-fi adventure! Gilligan's Island, less a few anthropomorphic monkeys and some liberties taken with coconut-based technology, was rooted in the laws of our universe. But you can say the same for Scooby Doo and The Brady Bunch, and they went on to face real monsters and impending asteroids in their film incarnations. Sometimes, the step toward the big screen warrants an inclusion of fantasy. Maybe the island isn't just uncharted, but cursed! Or the home of an undiscovered breed of monsters! Or a space-and-time-jumping beacon of electromagnetic energy that stands as an extended metaphor for the plight of the human soul! We can see the Bad Robot logo now...
His Costars:Gilligan... Dave FrancoThe Skipper... Dwayne JohnsonThe Millionaire... Idris Elba — now you're on boardHis Wife... Gina CaranoThe Movie Star... Zoe SaldanaMary Ann... Elizabeth Olsen
Josh Gad as Mary Ann Have you ever seen Head? The strange, cerebral, explosively meta deconstruction of the 1960s musical sitcom The Monkees? Well, we're thinking that the Gilligan's Island form would slink perfectly into these margins. It's surreal, it's ripe for analysis, it even has been suggested to represent the Seven Deadly Sins with each of its characters. Gad's casting as Mary Ann already raises an eyebrow, but a progressive and artful director might well give us something worthy of some deep dives. Charlie Kaufman, make Gilligan's Island about US.
His Costars:Gilligan... Jared LetoThe Skipper... Meat LoafThe Millionaire... Denis LavantHis Wife... Catherine KeenerThe Movie Star... Chloe SevignyThe Professor... Joaquin Phoenix
So which version are you rooting for?
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When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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