Zach Galifianakis and director James Bobin (The Muppets) are a match made in heaven, to the degree that I had to check IMDB to see if Galifianakis ever hopped over from his HBO show Bored to Death for a guest spot on Bobin’s HBO show, Flight of the Conchords. Nope. But the pair may make up for the lost opportunity on Paramount’s feature adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces. Vulture hears Galifianakis is attached to star as Ignatius Reilly and Bobin is in talks to direct. Scott Rudin (Moneyball) will produce, and Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids) is reportedly working on the screenplay.
That’s quite a lineup, but Confederacy of Dunces has a long history of trying and repeatedly failing to become a movie. Harold Ramis set up the first attempt in 1982, but was derailed when his Ignatius, John Belushi, died. The role subsequently passed from John Candy to Chris Farley to John Goodman over the years, but never stuck. The most recent iteration was led by Will Ferrell and director David Gordon Green, but fell by the wayside at Paramount. When asked what happened to it, Ferrell could only respond, “It’s a mystery. For some reason that’s a very scary project for people to take on.” Hit the jump for a synopsis of John Kennedy Toole‘s seemingly unadaptable novel.
“A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs.”
Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole’s tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. (“Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.”) But Ignatius’s quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso–who mistakes him for a vagrant–and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.
Over the next several hundred pages, our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. His stint as a hotdog vendor is less than successful, and he soon turns his employers at the Levy Pants Company on their heads. Ignatius’s path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Darlene and her talented cockatoo; the septuagenarian secretary Miss Trixie, whose desperate attempts to retire are constantly, comically thwarted; gay blade Dorian Greene; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. [Amazon]
Are Galifianakis, Bobin, Rudin, and Johnston the men who can finally make this happen? I do not know. But as a lesser man who just bought the $4 ebook, I sure hope they find a way.