Today, out of the Cannes market, Miramax founders the Weinstein brothers announced another acquisition for their new company, WeinsteinCo. It’s an animated feature entitled Hoodwinked! The True Story of Red Riding Hood. This is a big announcement, for sure, but what many people familiar with it may not recognize are the names of the people making the film.
Involved in the writing and directing are brothers Todd and Cory Edwards. Todd is the writer/director/star of one of the great, hidden gems of 1999 independent cinema. Cory is one of the film’s actors and producers. Their film, Chillicothe, is a hilarious and effortlessly made feature about a group of friends finding love in their twenty-something angst. I know what you’re thinking, “Another one of those movies?”
And that’s what I was expecting when I happened upon a screener of the film in early 1999, shortly before its world premiere at that year’s Sundance Film Festival. Yet, unlike many (too many) similar features, this is a film full of razor-sharp humor and clever direction by Todd (who, on the DVD, cites Danny Boyle as a totally evident influence).
After Sundance, Chillicothe played the festival circuit and ended up with a pretty standard DVD deal. I found Todd and we emailed back and forth. When the DVD was released, I reviewed it for my college paper. Though, I have a soft spot for the pre-deal version, because it contains some of the best jokes and pop songs, which they were forced to cut from the final product. And, truth be told, perhaps part of the allure of the film is the fact that it has been so under the radar. But hey, in a world where stuff like Brothers McMullen can get sweet deals, why not fresh and charming stuff like this? Plus, I believe that if Chillicothe had received the distribution deal it deserved, the pop culture stuff that was excised would have made the final cut. Thus, it would remain that terrific experience I found on an old VHS tape with timecode stamped on the bottom.
Anyway, what does this all mean? Only that the makers of an upcoming animated feature release by the Weinsteins once made what I consider an unfairly ignored independent comedy about single adults finding love. Meanwhile, it’s great that they finally seem to have gotten that nice deal and the attention that will follow as a result. But, as Todd joked with me over email today, now they only have to finish it.