One of my all-time favorite book series is Terry Brooks' Landover collection. It takes an established, powerful trial attorney, Ben Holiday, recently widowed to his soul's great passion - his lifemate - and sets him up to either wither away in doom-and-gloom pathos or pick up an advertisement for something that can't possibly be real and decide to step off a cliff into the unimaginable. Yeah... why not...
"Magic Kingdom: For Sale / Sold!" kicked off the series in Holiday's Chicago penthouse. His wife and unborn child have just died in a car wreck and he is beyond miserable (I think I said that already - but, he really is in a bad way). He has no future - he's a trial lawyer; where is he going to find his inspiration, his muse, now that she is gone. What... would be the use?
He notices the upscale Christmas catalog lying on the table in front of the couch. Maybe he could just lose himself... maybe there's a fantasy in there where real life can't reach him, anymore - can't hurt his soul in the devastating way life has Hulk-smashed his. It would be better than drowning his spirit in the clear liquid swirling around the ice cubes in his glass...
Perusing the catalog, he lands at the impossible: A Magic Kingdom for Sale. Sure, one million clean, crisp, powerful American dollars. What else is he going to do with the money? His reason for even having it was crushed in the mangled metal that was his beautiful partner's car.
I saw the cover: Joe Blow (Ben Holiday) kneeling in front of a cliché of a comedy wizard backed by ... a ... dog? With glasses?? ...and, a book??? They're on a stage barely able to hold the three of them backed by a large tree and swirling ... rugs? All very hokey.
The only reason I even wondered onto the book was because it was written by one of my very favorite authors: Terry Brooks, author and imaginant of the fantastic, absorbing Shannara series that rivals the works of J.R.R. Tolkein. The world of Shannara is a mature, full-bodied experience that anyone who cares for elves and dwarves and goblins and other impossibilities must read. Magic isn't the way of life there - but, it does exist. And, where magic exists, there is great power.
I would read this new offering, but I probably wouldn't like it. From the cover, it looks like nothing an author the magnitude of Terry Brooks would ever write.
I was wrong.
Yeah, the characters are rather fantastic. But, Terry offers compelling reasons why these characters exist. They aren't just there. They are genuine people caught in impossible situations trying to make the best of what they have available.
Now, I see there is going to be a movie adaptation of the works - starring Steve Carell.
I like Steve Carell. I loved him as the anchor foil to Jim Carrey's "Bruce Almighty". I liked him in his own sequal to that movie, "Evan Almighty"; although, it was a far cry from Carrey's huge winner. I loved him in "Date Night" and "Dinner for Schmucks". And, where would "Dispicable Me" be without his inventive vocalizations? He. Is. Awesome.
But, he's also slapstick. His comedy is all about the physicality and the visuals involved with the type of comedy in which he is most excellent.
This is not his role.
Yeah, I know the cover of the book had a dog in glasses with a book and a slapstick-looking wizard... yeah.
But, that isn't how the books are written.
The books are written "...not as dessert, but as dinner..." as so spot on described in the movie "Music & Lyrics". The imagery and the scenery would certainly fit within the style portrayed by Steve Carell, but the actions of the character and the feel of the drama the books actually developed would be far better served by the type of humor parlayed by actors like a younger Harrison Ford or Al Pacino. George Clooney could do it.
I could see Channing Tatum in the role.
I could see Christian Bale or Hugh Jackman in the role. Denzel Washington. Even Hugh Grant would provide the etiquette and gravitas this role needs. Will Smith? Sure! Joaquin Phoenix or Clive Owen would do wonders in this role.
Colin Firth would serve beautifully as the new owner of this most magical of lands. Nathan Fillion would be the very best choice for the role. His whimsical elegance would lend only excellence to a great movie experience.
I don't see Steve Carell in this role. If this is being picked up merely as a vehicle for another Steve Carell, movie, they are doing this story a huge, huge disservice.
This story needs elegance and sophistication. It needs a sense of frustration and longing these characters should have for what their world should have been.
It doesn't need slapstick. It does not need Steve Carell as the new King of Landover.
I could see him as the wizard, though. Or, Willow's dad, the River Master - that would be awesome!