Zach Helm

Jumanji

While the research process for writing a Jumanji script is probably hellish and monkey-filled, Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) is brave enough to take on the task. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the writer — who also wrote and directed Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium — has been hired by producers Matt Tolmach and Bill Teitler to give them a screenplay. This is a great move. Matt Tolmach Productions doesn’t have many winners underneath its belt (two forgettable crime comedies from the 1990s and, now, The Amazing Spider-Man), so it’s unclear what kind of movie they’re trying to create here or what they might really be capable of even under the careful watch of Columbia/Sony. Helm’s slant seems to be laughing at human foibles, danger and a dash of whimsy, so he seems like a solid choice to give this kind of family flick the right head start. When the project was first announced, the producers claimed it would be updated for our time, meaning it might look even more like Zathura than Jumanji (1995). Or that everyone will be on cell phones in the jungle. And planking. And trying to create “the new planking.” Still, I can’t wait for all the former cast cameos (or for Kirsten Dunst to take over Bonnie Hunt’s role wholesale).

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Of all the films being developed in the Hollywood-sphere right now, perhaps no other has more reasons to be excited about it than the upcoming, based-on-a-true-story shocker Freezing People is Easy. First off, it’s based on the life story of Robert Nelson, a man who spearheaded a movement in cryonics that saw several bodies being frozen back in the 60s, with disastrous results. Nelson’s story is darkly funny, shockingly grisly, and endlessly interesting due to its many twists and turns. It’s already been documented to great success in the man’s memoirs, “We Froze the First Man,” and also in a segment on the radio program This American Life entitled “Cold as Ice,” and it’s really a tale that everyone needs to hear. Secondly, the talent bringing this story into yet another medium, this time the big screen, is impressive. Freezing People is Easy is set to be the second dramatic work by famed documentarian Errol Morris (Tabloid), and it’s being shot from a screenplay that was written by Stranger Than Fiction’s Zach Helm. These are names whose next projects I would have been anticipating whether they were attached to a story I was already interested in or not. Throw them all together and there’s reason to celebrate. The third reason I’m looking forward to this one is how well the cast seems to be shaping up. It’s already been reported that Paul Rudd is attached to play Nelson as the lead, and now a report from Deadline Redondo Beach says […]

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George Clooney is set to produce and possibly direct a new film, and get this, it has a political slant. The story is based off of a Washington Post article called “The $700 Billion Man” about a Treasury Department official named Neel Kashkari, who was put in charge of coming up with a plan, over the course of a weekend, for the $700 billion dollars allocated to bail out the nation’s biggest banks. After a while, dealing with the stress of the job and the criticism of a congress that initially supported his actions became too much. He quit his job, moved out to the woods, and spent six months building a big shed. Clooney and Grant Heslov have optioned the story for the screen and assigned the task of writing a screenplay to Stranger than Fiction scribe Zach Helm. Despite my jab at Clooney and his political leanings, the article reads like it could make an interesting movie. Of the famed $700 billion that went into the bailout, Kashkari says, “Seven hundred billion was a number out of the air. It was a political calculus. I said, ‘We don’t know how much is enough. We need as much as we can get [from Congress]. What about a trillion?’ ‘No way,’ Hank shook his head. I said, ‘Okay, what about 700 billion?’ We didn’t know if it would work. We had to project confidence, hold up the world. We couldn’t admit how scared we were, or how uncertain.” Oh, maybe […]

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I have to admit that when I first saw trailers for Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, I feared the movie would be terrible.

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