If you were eleven years old at some point during the 1980s and had a couple afternoons to kill, a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book was a safe bet for passing the time. The iconic book series was known for the “stacked storytelling” technique, which let readers follow along a general plotline while also making decisions for the main character every few pages. Is our hero Johnny going to get trapped in a snake pit if he goes around that corner or make it to safety? It’s really all up to you and what page you turn to, since you’re God now.
While this concept provided hours of entertainment and an economic break for parents since you can come up with endless combinations of adventures, it seemed like it would remain relegated to the pages of the paperback section. But apparently, with the rise in popularity of toy-based films and retrokidtainment (copyright: Samantha Wilson, Film School Rejects), the book series will be adapted for the screen. Though at this point there are no real details on which direction the plot is headed (probably a few directions, right? right??), with Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) directing and a script by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant (Night at the Museum, Reno 911!), the Choose Your Own Adventure adaptation certainly seems to be leaning toward a comedy bent.
There is no shortage of Adventure books to choose from when drawing from material for the film: mysteries like “Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?” to Westerns like “Deadwood City,” to sci-fi installments like “Space and Beyond” and spy thrillers like “Your Code Name is Jonah.” The question at this point is how Lennon and Garant are going to mold that material into a film.
It seems like there might be two likely roads this adaptation could take to get the “choose your own adventure” detailing right. In the first scenario, a group of children are faced with some sort of…adventure…in which they each take a different route toward completing. You see what consequences and triumphs come with each kid’s choice, and what their ultimate outcome ends up becoming because of what they decided at the beginning of their journey. Ben Stiller might be involved somehow? Maybe as the maniacal genius who sent them on this quest?
In the other potential storyline, a man (Stiller, obviously) gets sucked into a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book that he finds while cleaning out his childhood room at his parents’ house. In order to escape the book and make it back to Connecticut, he has to remember his training from his youth and choose his steps wisely in order to make it to safety — or suffer a perilious doom at the end of the last chapter. Will he make it? He probably does.
Until any of that’s confirmed (and I see a paycheck), we’ll have to wait on word from Lennon and Garant for a real idea on how our hero(es) might potentially choose their own fates on the big screen. And then maybe we’ll choose whether or not we want to see this movie.