Charlie Kaufman — the writer behind “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — is no stranger to high concepts. But believe us, nothing you’ve seen from him before will prepare you for the absurd and musical-heavy Hollywood send up “Frank or Francis.”
We read the script and dished on the basic outline of the story earlier today, but we marveled that it was being made at all given its caustic (and yes, quite hilarious look) at the industry. However, when you have the trio of Steve Carell, Jack Black and Nicolas Cage agreeing to star, check books begin to open up. And now one more great addition is on board the already solid cast as Variety reports that Kevin Kline will play two characters in the movie.
Condensing the sprawling story into a logline is a bit difficult, but the gist of it follows three characters in a strange, offkilter version of Hollywood: Frank Arder (Carell), a well-meaning, but pretentious screenwriter-turned-filmmaker whose feature-film “You” becomes a sensation in Hollywood after its nominated for a record-breaking amount of Academy Awards; Francis (Black) is a charisma-free, but whip-smart online blogger/commenter who lives in his parents attic and his biting critiques of Tinsteltown and its movies have earned him a bit of a following; and in some truly inspired casting, Cage will play Alan Modell, aka the Emcee, an well-known comedian known for his wildly popular and immensely insipid “Fat Dad” roles, who begins to experience his career fall into decline and desperately tries to put it back on track at any cost. Like we said, this is out there.
As for Kline, he’ll be playing Richard Waller, the brother of filmmaker Jonathan Waller who, in this strange movie universe of a film, directed the hit epic called “Hiroshima” that fails to win Best Picture. Incensed, Jonathan and his brother Richard create Richard’s Head, the superwiz computer-brain programmed to write a screenplay that mathematically analyzes every successful screenplay in the history of cinema and then spits out an inoffensive, but utterly pleasing “God” (no, really). And Kline will also be playing the animatronic computer-brain. Fucking ace.
But really, this is just the start of what is essentially three parallel stories that eventually connect in one madhouse conclusion. And if that weren’t enough, half the dialogue in the film is sung aloud, like an ode to old school Hollywood musicals. Yes, Kaufman’s skewering of Hollywood conventions is every bit as meta as it gets and this is gonna be one of the most insane undertakings we’ve seen in a while. Filming is set to begin in January, with more casting to come including two female love interests for Frank and Francis, who yes, will have to know how to sing too.