Questionable Content

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in April 2010, Scott Beggs explores what a movie version of the popular webcomic ‘Questionable Content’ might look like…

As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. This week, Print to Projector presents:

Questionable Content

By: Jeph Jacques

Synopsis

A bunch of twenty somethings discuss indie music, the trials of living with no money, the maze of finding love…as well as the joys of being a neurotic mess who was raised in a space station by billionaire parents, the difficulty of being a cake batter-eating anthropomorphic computer, and the utter epicness of being a bird that yells foul obscenities.

Print

I first started reading Questionable Content when I was bored at my day job a few years back. I jumped in around comic #600 and promptly read 600 of them in a day. Since I wasn’t fired, I was able to check the comic daily for its brilliance.

So why is it brilliant? Because of its characters. It’s a simple idea, and admittedly I relate to the slightly charming, slightly goofy, indie rock fan, main character Marten – but there are really rich characters who manage to be a lot like the friends everyone has in life. I imagine there’s a lot of fan crossover with Scott Pilgrim.

It swings from tender moments to tender, drunken moments to low-brow humor with shocking ease. Usually in the same frame. The humor is usually simple, but the stories often find themselves into precarious corners where someone’s mother is a fetish pinup star or where someone is getting over a trauma caused by their father.

Basically, there’s an entire gamut of entertainment here. Wry jokes, romantic drama, and poop jokes. You gotta have those poop jokes.

On a side note, one of the things I find most interesting about QC and the webcomic format itself, is having the ability to see the grand changes in animation that the artist has taken on during the life of the comic:

Potential Problems

The only real potential problem stems from including some QC favorites like Yelling Bird into the mix when he has absolutely nothing to do with the main strip. Also, it might be tough to create a tiny, adorable, foul-mouthed computer.

 

Production

Defeat Awkardness with Maximum Ridiculosity!

 

Writing

There is rarely a time when I suggest having the source author adapt – especially when they haven’t worked in the medium before. As tempted as I am to say that Jacques should tackle the screenplay due to his own intimate knowledge of the characters, I also think the screenwriter Lorene Scafaria might do an excellent job of adapting. Scafaria did an amazing job of creating plot and story with Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist while staying true to the themes and tone of the novel. Obviously, it’s also a plus that she has a working knowledge of young people and what matters to them.

 

Directing

I haven’t seen anything but the trailer for Scott Pilgrim, but it’s clear that Edgar Wright could nail down the everyday mixed with the ridiculous that comes with the territory here. It’s not like Questionable Content would need as much, but there’s a fantasy element to the world those people live in that includes living computers and sudden, surreal moments with people in top hats.

 

Starring

Who’s capable of that many Sunny Day Real Estate jokes?

Josh Peck as Marten: Marten is goofy, but lovable and he’s ultimately a really nice guy. The comic focused on him almost entirely in the beginning – particularly his difficulty with girls (mostly because he’s nice) and his growing friendship with Faye. The comic has grown far beyond that, but it still needs an indie kid anchor. Peck has proven himself in the comedy world but also as a serious actor in The Wackness. It’s a tough balance, strangely enough, to find someone who can be slightly sarcastic and down-on-his-luck without resorting to Cera-esque levels of wimpy-ness. Peck finds that balance perfectly.

Rachel Miner as Dora: Yet again, another challenge for some reason was to find a young woman who really fit the bill for this character. Someone who can look dangerous but play sweet is hard to find, but Miner has both qualities. Dora owns Coffee of Doom – the place where most everyone hangs out – and has a major crush on Marten’s mom. And Marten.

Alia Shawkat as Faye: Faye isn’t a hard character to pin down. She’s snarky and rude, threatening, but it’s all a defense mechanism. It’s sort of a toss up here between Shawkat and Kat Dennings, and honestly, either would be perfect.

Taylor Momsen as Hanners: Some of you may think I’m insane to look to “Gossip Girl” for anything, but Hanners is an OCD mess of strange quirks, and Momsen shows a lot of shades of that with her character on the show. Hanners is sweet, but she’s insane. She, also for some reason, is the subject of many a faked nude drawing on the internet – a place where you really should watch out what you type into your Google image search.

…with Paul Rugg as the voice of Pintsize: Mostly because Rugg is a genius at doing character voices, and mostly because I’m against celebrities doing voice work. Sure, it would make studio sense to have Jack Black do it, but it wouldn’t really fit.

…with Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of Yelling Bird: Hopefully it’ll just be a cameo.

 

Who Owns It

As with several entries in this loving series, it doesn’t appear that anyone has purchased film rights for the webcomic.

 

Projection

It would make, at least, an entertaining movie that might play like a fun version of Reality Bites. At best, it would be a knock out, heart-felt, funny, strange trip through the everyday lives of some great characters, and Pintsize the computer would steal the show.

Click here to read more Print to Projector


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