I think most of the world was surprised when we saw Lasse Hallstrom’s name on the credits for Dear John. It wasn’t his normal routine, and it gave us all hope that the movie might be something more than the usual Nicolas Sparks schlock.

Hopefully he’s planning on washing that faux-romance taste out of his mouth like a hooker on a Sunday morning by teaming up with Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas for Salmon Fishing in Yemen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Cider House Rules/Chocolat/What’s Eating Gilbert Grape director will be staying in the romance world, but adding the comedy for an entirely new genre called comedic romances (or com-roms if you’re pressed for time). The project is an adaptation of the novel by Paul Torday, and it won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing – a prize which sounds like it’s either made-up or British.

It may have that comic side to it, but it may have a little something else. The synopsis from Publishers Weekly:

In Torday’s winningly absurdist debut, Dr. Alfred Jones feels at odds with his orderly life as a London fisheries scientist and husband to the career-driven Mary, with whom he shares a coldly dispassionate relationship. Just as Mary departs for a protracted assignment in Geneva, Alfred gets consulted on a visionary sheik’s scheme to introduce salmon, and salmon-angling, to the country of Yemen.

Alfred is deeply skeptical (salmon are cold-water fish that spawn in fresh water; Yemen is hot and largely desert), but the project gains traction when Peter Maxwell, the prime minister’s director of communications, seizes on it as a PR antidote to negative press related to the Iraq war. Alfred is pressed by his superiors to meet with the sheik’s real estate rep, the glamorous young Harriet, and embarks on a yearlong journey to realize the sheik’s vision of spiritual peace through fly-fishing for the people of Yemen.

British businessman and angler Torday captures Alfred’s emerging humanity, Maxwell’s antic solipsism, Mary’s calculating neediness and Harriet’s vulnerability, presenting their voices through diaries, e-mails, letters and official interviews conducted after the doomed venture’s surprisingly tragic outcome.

The cast, I think, is a good sign here, but that last part of the synopsis puts me on edge because it has notes of Sparks in it. However, it sounds fairly ridiculous, and that’s what really matters.

Would you go see it?

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