Board game films are often viewed as the epitome of Hollywood laziness, simply because the “source material” generally has little to no inherent narrative (see: Ouija) and the projects are brought to life solely because of the brand recognition factor. Hence the all but universal cynicism that greeted the news about a Candyland movie being made.
Two years ago, the film version of Candyland was set to be scripted by Etan Cohen (next year’s Men in Black 3) and directed by Kevin Lima (Enchanted). Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner described the project as being a “very human” tale at the time, suggesting it would be about people entering the colorful world of a magical board game (a la Jumanji and Zathura).
Jump ahead to the present and the Candyland movie is being penned by screenwriting duo Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, the talents responsible for films like Kung Fu Panda and this week’s aptly-named sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2. Judging by the pair’s comments about their new project, this won’t be the relatively straightforward “people enter a board game world” adventure flick originally envisioned.
Here is what the duo (specifically, Berger) told EW about their Candyland script:
“We envision it as ‘Lord of the Rings’, but set in a world of candy… We don’t see it as a movie based on a board game, although it has characters from that world and takes the idea of people finding themselves in a world that happens to be made entirely of candy where there are huge battles going on. We are going for real comedy, real action, and real emotions at stake.”
The 1985 Clue movie is often cited as an example of how to properly adapt a board game for the film medium, thus transforming it into something that stands on its own – in Clue‘s case, an intentionally comical murder mystery. Peter Berg’s upcoming Battleship adaptation goes a step further by turning its inspiration (a naval combat game) into the basis for an alien invasion action flick – and Ridley Scott’s Monopoly likewise aims to turn the popular game into a satirical comedy about the modern real estate market.
It sounds as though that approach is akin to what Aibel and Berger have in mind with Candyland. Instead of going the “kids get sucked into a board game” route, the two are devising the film as a fantasy adventure that follows a group of people as they must journey through an enchanting but dangerous world in order to restore peace to the realm. The twist is that the inhabitants won’t be orcs, goblins, or wizards (a la Lord of the Rings) or even talking animals and traditional fantasy genre creatures (a la The Chronicles of Narnia) – rather, they’ll be fudge monsters and people with licorice for hair.
That doesn’t exactly read as the most original idea ever conceived, but at least Aibel and Berger appear to be taking a slightly more imaginative approach with Candyland. Whether or not this project really has the potential to become anything more than a punchline is another matter.