As we lamented more than once over the years, it took a long time for Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, the music video veterans who made their feature debut with the multi-Oscar-nominated “Little Miss Sunshine,” to make a second film. Various projects came and went including the Demetri Martin-penned “Will,” and adaptations of Thomas Perrotta’s “The Abstinence Teacher,” which would have starred Steve Carell and Sandra Bullock.
Six years on, the duo finally returned with the Zoe Kazan-penned “Ruby Sparks,” and while audiences didn’t quite take it into their hearts — it took $6 million worldwide, versus $100 million for its predecessor — it was still a very smart and beautifully performed anti-rom-com, and arguably a better film than their debut. The good news is that it doesn’t look like Dayton and Faris have any intention of letting a similar amount of time lapse before their third movie.
Deadline report that the pair have come on board to direct “The Big Cigar,” a based-in-fact picture set up by producer Matt Tolmach (“The Amazing Spider-Man“). The film, based on an article in a recent issue of Playboy by Joshua Bearman, revolves around the unlikely pairing of “Easy Rider” producer Bert Schneider and Black Panther founder Huey Newton. When Newton was facing prosecution for murder, Schneider set up set up a fake movie called ‘The Cigar” in order to sneak Newton and his girlfriend out of the country. Shades of a certain recent Ben Affleck movie, anyone?…
It’s the specter of “Argo” that’s going to hang heavy over this project, clearly, and while there’s serious potential in the material (including two potentially great roles for actors in Schneider and Newton — we’re feeling Max Greenfield and Nate Parker ourselves…), there are also hazards, not least that smuggling Americans out of revolutionary Iran is an easier sell than smuggling out Newton, who was accused of killing a 17-year-old prostitute. Yay?
Still, given the journalistic background of Bearman — who, as it happens, also wrote the Wired article that “Argo” is based on, and is co-writing the script for “The Big Cigar” with Jim Hecht (“Ice Age: The Meltdown“) — there’s reason to hope that they won’t sugarcoat the material. And Dayton and Faris seem like a good match for such potentially tonally tricky material. The film’s set up at Sony through Tolmach’s deal there, so we could see this moving forward as soon as they have a script ready.