Charlie Kaufman Asks Kevin James to Play Himself in ‘Obese City’

Over the course of his screenwriting career, Charlie Kaufman has developed a set of go-to moves. They are the tricks up his sleeve that allow him to craft narratives that throw the way we traditionally watch movies off kilter. One of the things he does is call identity into question. He casts John Malkovich as himself, or he casts Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman, then he makes us question what aspects of those on screen characters accurately reflect the real person, and how much of them are solely invention; the crafted traits of a fictional character created by Charlie Kaufman.

Another thing he does is play with story structure. He’ll set up multiple frameworks through which we have to follow his narrative. In Adaptation we get frameworks within frameworks. We watch the story of Charlie writing an adaptation of “The Orchid Thief” on one level, other parts of the film are recreations of the book that Kaufman is trying to adapt throughout the surface level story, and then on a third level both the scenes of Kaufman writing the adaptation and the recreations of the book exist as the script we are watching him write, which eventually becomes the movie we are watching. Dang, that’s complex, and it looks like he’s back to his old tricks for his upcoming film Frank and Francis.

In case you missed earlier reports, Frank and Francis is a story about a disgruntled film director who has a series of interactions with a snarky film blogger who is constantly criticizing his work and calling his talent into question. We already know that he’s signed three big names to take on main roles in the film: those names being Nicolas Cage, Jack Black, and Steve Carell. The new news is that he’s going after Kevin James to appear in the movie as well, but not as a character like the other actors. Theoretically, James will be playing himself, Kevin James the actor, starring in a film-within-a-film called Obese City. Sounds like we’re getting some Meta commentary on James as the wacky fat guy. That’s fine with me, so long as James doesn’t go down the Adam Sandler in Funny People path of continuing to make the same crappy movies again after mocking his career choices. That was just embarrassing.

Source: The Playlist

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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