So it was posted today on Indiewire that writer/director David Gordon Green will be tackling an adaptation of the 70s and 80s TV show Little House on the Prairie. Sweet f-ing Jesus in a dumptruck with an ice cream cone. As if that show wasn’t terrible enough, here is who I once believed to be the most promising young American filmmaker tackling another project that seems a million levels beneath his talent. First Pineapple Express and Your Highness (a film I would easily rank in my top 10 least favorite movies of all-time – what an unfunny piece of shit), now this.
David Gordon Green as I remember him prior to his slide into mediocrity.
Green’s George Washington and All the Real Girls are two of my favorite films of the 2000s, the former so well-received that the Criterion Collection scooped up its DVD rights. Criterion is a label that instantly brands a film as important in the eyes of the film world. Here’s what Armond White had to say about it:
George Washington was quickly recognized upon its debut at various film festivals and subsequent theatrical release as one of the triumphs of the current American Independent movement. Its original perspective transforms what is appallingly familiar in American life: destitution, nihilism, bewildered youth, and the history of racial deprivation. Green’s unpretentious approach to the backwater setting revels in Southern atmosphere and casual intimacy. It’s not a social protest, as done in past movies that grew out of social-reform movements, but a private, delicate perception unconnected to Hollywood trends and cultural expectations. It comes from Green’s personal feelings about youth, race, and cinema, and these feelings can be felt.
The kids from George Washington.
Stoner comedies and melodramatic TV show adaptations don’t follow in the tradition of the above and makes the choice to do LHotP all the more perplexing. I was fortunate to see DGG at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2004 when Undertow played there. He seemed to have a good head on his shoulders and spoke so highly of the films that influenced it, in particular Night of the Hunter. He spoke with regret about the collapse of his film version of A Confederacy of Dunces as he didn’t want to be in Harvey Weinstein‘s (then head of indie-juggernaut Miramax, now head of The Weinstein Company) pocket. He was dripping with integrity and spoke of how great it was to make movies with his friends.
Karey Williams, Zooey Deschanel and Danny McBride in All the Real Girls.
However, it may well be that DGG’s collaboration with friends Jody Hill and Danny McBride is the source of his downfall. I will admit that their collab on HBO’s Eastbound & Down is amazingly funny, when put into context with the rest of their collective effort, I give the whole a thumbs down. As stated above, Your Highness is one of the absolute least funny things I’ve ever seen and Pineapple Express isn’t far behind. Every director has hits and misses. I get that and accept it. Even Woody Allen made Curse of the Jade Scorpion. However, where Allen went on to make films like Match Point and Midnight in Paris, Green has yet to show us that type of rebound. And this announcement isn’t any indication that said rebound is going to occur anythime soon. He has a healthy slate of releases this upcoming year including a remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria (once again, why?), a film with Mr. One Note himself, Paul Rudd and another with Nicolas Cage. Perhaps one of these will surprise me and bring about a return to form for Mr. Green. Suspiria is the only one I would believe to have a shot to do so. I have been wrong before…but not very often.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that Abi Morgan, who wrote Steve McQueen‘s Shame and Phyllida Lloyd‘s The Iron Lady, has penned the script for the LHotP film. Shame was amazing and she is to be commended for that. I wouldn’t watch The Iron Lady for all of the Guinness in the world. Margaret Thatcher can suck it.