John Kennedy Toole never got to see his lone novel, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” get published, as it was only ever made public eleven years after his death. And names like John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley never got the chance to play the novel’s main character, Ignatius Reilly, as they all passed away before the various adaptations they were proposed to be parts of ever came together. At this point, it probably wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call any possibility of this beloved novel ever becoming a movie doomed. It appears as though its valve has closed.
Or not. Vulture has news that the Confederacy of Dunces adaptation, which has been trying to get off the ground since 1982, is once again looking like it might be a go. And this time the talents involved in its resurrection are all so appealing that you might not even make yourself sick with worry that Toole’s wildly entertaining but constantly meandering story—which details a corpulent, over-educated, and outdated curmudgeon’s traversing of the exotic world of 60s era New Orleans—is completely unadaptable as a film.
You won’t worry that Ignatius’ exploits never seem to be building to a climax, or that he makes for about the least likable protagonist conceived of in modern literature. No, you’ll just be thinking that if anyone is going to be able to pull off a Confederacy of Dunces movie, it’s going to be these guys.
First off, the novel has been turned into a screenplay by Phil Johnston, who wrote last year’s wildly underrated Cedar Rapids. Secondly, James Bobin, who co-created the quirky Flight of the Conchords and proved that he can work well with other people’s characters by directing last year’s The Muppets, is currently in negotiations to helm. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis has been attached to star as Ignatius.
Sure, Galifianakis might not be quite as overweight and disgusting as Ignatius is described as being in the book, but who could be? The thing to focus on is that he projects just the right level of insanity to make this character’s absurd behavior believable. Whether you picture him going to bad movies just to be audibly offended, biking around on a hotdog cart while eating all the profits, or lecturing some horrified onlooker on the merits of a Medieval lifestyle, Galifianakis seems perfect for this weird role in a way that perhaps nobody else who has been proposed for it over the years has.
If everyone can just stay alive long enough to actually make the thing, we might all be in for a real treat.