Jay and Mark Duplass cut their teeth in the film world writing and directing weird, super-indie movies like The Puffy Chair and Baghead, and have only more recently started tipping their toes ever so slightly into the mainstream with works like Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Deadline Metairie is reporting the brothers have taken a job writing a film for Todd Phillips, king of the mainstream comedy. Especially since the brothers are famous for writing loose scripts that are heavy on improvisational acting, and this particular job requires that they adapt a novel.

Let’s back up a bit. Back in February it was announced that Todd Phillips had renewed his first look agreement with Warner Bros., and there were a number of projects mentioned that he might be developing for the studio. One of them was called Mule, and was an adaptation of a Tony D’Souza novel of the same name. Amazon describes D’Souza’s book by saying:

“James and Kate are golden children of the late twentieth century, flush with opportunity. But an economic downturn and an unexpected pregnancy send them searching for a way to make do. A friend in California’s Siskiyou County grows prime-grade marijuana; if James transports just one load from Cali to Florida, he’ll pull down enough cash to survive for months. And so begins the life of a mule.”

Apparently this is the project from Phillips’ list of maybes that’s going to get done first, and it’s also the script the Duplass brothers will be penning for the director. Is there something about this particular material that Phillips thought would work well with the Duplasses’ sensibilities? Or is there something not obvious about the project that captured the brothers’ interest? Or, perhaps, is making small, weird movies just an expensive endeavor, and Jay and Mark are in the need of a quick paycheck? If we put our Internet detective heads together, we can definitely figure this one out.


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