Director Adam Shankman has helmed A Walk to Remember, Bringing Down the House, The Pacifier, Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Hairspray, Bedtime Stories, and Rock of Ages. This is not a good resume (save for Hairspray, which is certainly passable as a fun revamp of the ’80s John Waters classic, at least in terms of sudsing it up for a new audience). The attachment of Shankman to a project does nothing for me (particularly after recently watching Rock of Ages after months of putting it off, which firmly established that production as a strong contender for Worst Film of the Year, at least in my mind), and yet, similarly, neither does the attachment of Shawn Levy (to be fair, Levy’s resume includes Just Married, Night at the Museum, Date Night, and Real Steel). So how funny then that a long-gestating project that once belonged to Shankman is now in Levy’s hands. Cue the shrugging.
Variety reports that Levy is now in final negotiations to direct the Warner Bros. adaption of Jonathan Tropper’s dysfunctional family-centered novel “This Is Where I Leave You.” This is, unfortunately for the production, not the first time that This Is Where I Leave You has been put through the creative ringer. WB first picked up the rights for the book back in 2009, when they were then planning to have Greg Berlanti direct it, until the project ultimately became a Shankman dealio, before the entire thing fell apart earlier this year after both Shankman and a potential star left the project. Can this thing catch a break?
Back in May, that Shankman-directed incarnation of the film snagged a cast that included Jason Bateman, Zac Efron, Goldie Hawn, and Leslie Mann, with Malin Akerman also in for a role. Solid, to say the least. But both Shankman and Bateman kicked the project, leaving WB holding the bag. And while the attachment of Levy still leaves us shrugging, Variety does report that the director is a “huge fan of the book since its release” who has also done some work with Tropper in the past. Should this all pan out, Levy would work on a “quick” script revision with Tropper before filming the project next summer. It’s still unclear if any of that original Shankman cast are available for (or interested in) the project.
Tropper’s book is currently on the very top of my “to-read” pile, and while I do not consider myself a huge fan of his work, the author does accomplish something with his work that’s become startlingly unique – he gets markedly better with each piece (hey, sort of like Levy!). Perhaps “This Is Where I Leave You” will be the first Tropper book I truly love, even if I do remain worried about its big screen adaptation.
Amusingly enough, Levy actually directed the first Cheaper By the Dozen, which makes for some fun and wacky trivia.