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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 12/ 1/2008

The Riff: Which Strip Should Be Hollywood-Bound?

By Michael Cavna

As the holiday season's movie trailers assault my senses, they still, somehow, manage to pique my curiosity. What's coming up between now and Pixar's next biggie, "Up," I mull, in the world of animation.

Scanning the pre-"Watchmen" filmscape, one category seems conspicuously absent: When is the next film based on a comic strip going to drop?

Such mega-strips as "Garfield" have had their screen time, of course. Stephan Pastis told Comic Riffs some months back that he's working on a Hollywood script revolving around his "Pearls Before Swine" character Larry the Croc. And I've heard rumors that some relatively newer strips have been approached by Hollywood. ("Pooch Cafe," anyone? Sony Animation optioned the film early this year.)

But which strips are poised to become the next "Over the Hedge" (2006)? (Which DreamWorks did a masterful job with, by the way, in terms of fleshing out characters that engage over an entire full-length feature film. No easy feat, that, though the vocal talents of Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling and Wanda Sykes don't hurt the cause.)

So what should be next? Well, had I the bank and the juice to option three as-yet-untapped comic properties, these would be my initial picks:


Paul Rudd, we have your next role. (UFS) Enlarge Comic

If Jason Lee can anchor an "Alvin and the Chipmunks" flick that doesn't bomb at the box office, then surely Paul Rudd could hit a starring role as Rob Wilco outta the park. (Watch the new "Role Models" and you realize: Rudd could nail this Beleaguered Agoraphobe role in a way that Andy Samberg, Luke Wilson or Jason Schwartzman could not.) 'Riffs would approach Jack Black or Seth Rogen to voice Satchel -- and our director would be Richard Linklater. But we can't quite peg the hyperkinetic Bucky Katt (SO not Nathan Lane or Jim Carrey). 'Riffs welcomes your picks.

2. LIO:

Announce a nationwide casting call to play Lio. (UPS) Enlarge Comic

The Gorey-esque goth-tyke is ripe for an all-ages tale. The real trick, though: Do you write it with absolutely no dialogue? (Hey, it worked for the first 40 minutes of "Wall-E.") We're convinced it'd flop as a silent film, but perhaps a spooky Vincent Price-esque narrator would do the trick. And the director? You have to ask? The one and only Tim Burton.


Pull John Hughes out of quasi-retirement. (UPS) Enlarge Comic

So much rich dialogue here, and such distinct, heartfelt characters. This sweet-but-skewed strip could produce a holiday fave. Our pitch: Make it a road picture. This could be like the "Vacation" pictures, but with actual subtlety and nuance. In other words: Family dynamics that aren't dumbed-down.

Those are our picks, 'Riffs readers. What are yours?

By Michael Cavna  | December 1, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  
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Bucky Katt = Letterman

Posted by: MSchafer | December 1, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Bucky Katt = Rush Limbaugh

Posted by: tws1372 | December 1, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Okay, this is so obvious it hurts. Bucky Katt should be voiced by Rainn Wilson from the Office. In full-on "Dwight" mode.

Posted by: GreenEyedLilo | December 1, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Paul Rudd, but I'm not sure I agree with Seth Rogan for Satchel. Satch has a naivete and sweetness that I don't think he could voice. Jack Black would be better as long as he wasn't in his manic mode.

As for Bucky? I wanna say Jeffrey Combs - his crazy vibe in "The Frighteners" could so easily flip over into Bucky.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 1, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

If the GF movie has Jack Black as Satchel, then why not Lewis Black as Bucky? That give you Black & Black, the resigned-to-disappointment Po the Panda as the victim and the ever-manic wild man of rants as his persecutor. I also like Kelsey Grammer (as "Frasier", rather than as "Sideshow Bob") in the role of the sarcastic but ever-suffering Rob.

Posted by: seismic-2 | December 2, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

A "Mark Trail" movie done as a send-up of the strip (a la the Brady Bunch movies)could be very good. I see Jon Hamm playing Mark Trail.

Posted by: staxowax | December 2, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I second the call for a Mark Trail movie. It would be cool to see those close up, foreground animals framing a scene. And I would love to see a Prince Valiant movie. The current story with the seaweed sea and the beast men cries out for a CGI spectacle. But wait, there already was a PV movie in 1997!!?? How did I miss that? A fan since Hal Foster's days, I never heard of that film.

Posted by: hdradio | December 2, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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