Filmmaker David Wain, best known still as a veteran of the sketch group The State and director of the cult ’80s-set camp movie Wet Hot American Summer, is returning to that decade for a sort of time travel movie called Too Cool to be Forgotten. Easily likened to the recently released Hot Tub Time Machine, the plot involves a 40-year-old man who finds himself in 1985, forced to relive the moment, as a 15-year-old, and set things right that once went wrong (sorry, I always have the Quantum Leap narration in my head with movies like this). Of course what went wrong has to do with a girl.
To me, this seems more like Peggy Sue Got Married more than anything else. Producer Anthony Bergman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) has previously discussed the project, which is based on Alex Robinson’s graphic novel, revealing plans to keep the same actor in both old and young roles, a la Kathleen Turner in that 1986 film from Francis Ford Coppola. I always had trouble accepting Peggy Sue as actually involving time travel — mostly because there was no DeLorean or hot tub for transport, only a bonk on the head, which we typically associate with a dream or flashback.
In the earlier interview with MTV, Bergman also mentioned the “fall asleep” angle and made some other comparisons:
“It takes a genre that we’re familiar with — the whole “I fall asleep and then I wake up and I’m in high school again” thing — and it gives it such an incredible, emotional bang for that experience. It’s something you’ve never really seen in those “17 Again”-type movies. And that’s what we’re shooting for. It has a lot in common with another film I did, “Eternal Sunshine,” where it took another high-concept mechanism and squeezes a much more complicated and emotional story out of it.”
While that may have Charlie Kaufman fans wishing for Michel Gondry or even Kaufman himself at the helm (Bergman produced Kaufman’s directorial debut, the brilliant Synecdoche, New York), Wain will still be a great fit. Bergman claimed to want a filmmaker who can tell a funny and emotional story. There’s not a whole lot of genuine sentimentality in Wain’s work, but if he can set down his irony cloak for once I’m counting on him.
Wain’s last feature was the 2008 release Role Models, a funny yet contrived Hollywood comedy with some surprisingly saccharine moments (for Wain and co., that is), and it seemed he was disappointingly heading into director-for-hire territory. This wouldn’t be an issue so long as he continued making sillier personal projects like his Wainy Days web series and live Stella performances with Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black.
Those two regular collaborators are sure to find themselves in Too Cool, along with other former State members (perhaps Thomas Lennon, who interestingly enough co-starred in 17 Again) and familiar friends like Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks. But who should play the lead? Who can play both 40 and 15? Wain could go for the Hiding Out thing and have a 20-something actor wear a beard for the older part and be clean shaven for the younger. Role Models‘ Seann William Scott could do that.
And speaking of Hiding Out, people seem concerned about the idea of this elder actor (re-)pursuing a high school girl. In that case, should Too Cool be done like Peggy Sue, with all the high school kids played by people in their 20s and 30s?
Who would you cast in the above role? And don’t say Michael Cera.