There's been no shortage of comic books jumping from the shelves to the big screen lately, but as any true comics fan will attest, there are still a lot of great books out there flying below Hollywood's radar. In this weekly feature, we'll take a look at a story that should merit attention from filmmakers -- and offer some thoughts on why (and how) it should be brought to the big screen.
THE STORY: "Too Cool To Be Forgotten" by Alex Robinson
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In "Too Cool To Be Forgotten," acclaimed writer Alex Robinson tells the tale of Andy Wicks, a 40-year-old man who agrees to undergo hypnosis to quit smoking, only to wake up from his trance in the body of his 15-year-old self, forced to re-live his late-'80s high school experience. Yet, while various films over the years have sent their adult leads back in time to learn valuable lessons about appreciating their future lives (including this week's "17 Again"), "Too Cool" offers a dramatically different take on the old standard.
THE APPEAL: Throughout its 100-plus pages, Robinson's tale manages to keep its sense of humor while taking a bit darker, more dramatic approach to the implications of reliving your high school years. More akin to the awkwardness of the "Freaks and Geeks" television series than the heart-warming comedy of the film "Big," "Too Cool" features a main character who is constantly afraid of altering anything in his past that could lose him the wife and children he has in the future -- but is constantly frustrated by the knowledge of what he could do with the experience he brought back to the past with him.
Along with heavy doses of '80s nostalgia, "Too Cool" manages to capture the coming-of-age drama of "The Wonder Years" and concludes with a climactic (and cathartic) final scene that achieves just the right measure of resolution for the emotional investment the story asks of its audience.
CASTING CALL: These days, awkward coming-of-age films seem to be owned by actors like Michael Cera, but his "Superbad" co-star Christopher Mintz-Plasse ("McLovin") would seem better suited for the role of a young Andy Wicks. (Paul Dano of "Little Miss Sunshine" would also seem a good fit.)
For the adult Andy, bald-headed "Breaking Bad" actor Bryan Cranston not only has the look, but could also provide a great narrative voice for Andy's adventure through his own timeline.
ADAPTATION POTENTIAL: Since there isn't much call for special effects or other big-budget necessities, "Too Cool To Be Forgotten" seems like a prime candidate for adaptation. Money otherwise spent on CGI effects and explosions could be directed toward assembling a cast that brings each of the story's characters to life as well as the story itself. Think "ensemble film" full of bright young actors, and you'll see why "Too Cool" has so much potential on the big screen.
The main obstacle to adaptation, however, is likely to be the number of films that have recycled the premise of adults revisiting their youth with varying degrees of success. For every "Big" there's been a "Like Father Like Son," after all -- and this weekend's "17 Again" tests the waters yet again. Even so, movie audiences have never been more accepting of comic book movies, so the source material for "Too Cool" could be the selling point that makes the story stand out from the crowd.
"Too Cool To Be Forgotten" is published by Top Shelf Productions, and features a story and art by Alex Robinson.
What do you think of my suggestions for a film based on "Too Cool To Be Forgotten"? Who would you cast in the film? Let me know your thoughts on this, as well as any other books you'd recommend for an "Adapt This" column, in the comment section below!