Sunday, March 16, 2008

Corey Redekop's "Shelf Monkey"

Corey Redekop applied the Page 99 Test to his novel, Shelf Monkey, in October 2007.

Here he develops some ideas about the cast and director should Hollywood come calling about an adaptation:
Shelf Monkey is about obsession and the perils inherent in becoming too emotionally attached to any one point of view. Any cast member would have to have that certain mania which accompanies that extreme viewpoint of everything I believe in is right, and everything you believe in is wrong.

The lead character Thomas at one point opines on who should portray him in the eventual movie, laying out Jake Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor as his favored candidates. Nice try, but Thomas as a personality does not have that kind of Hollywood heft, and should not get played by a personality that would overwhelm the character (although Ewan would be a good choice in any event). He’s kind of a sarcastic milquetoast, and Paul Rudd would be a fine choice, if possibly a little too old (sorry Paul). In a few years, Michael Cera would be absolutely perfect. And seriously, how good is Cera anyway? I can’t get enough of the guy. Also, he’s Canadian, and as Shelf Monkey is a shaggy little Canadian novel, it would be nice to get an actor with that je ne c’est quoi sensibility. Or Topher Grace.

Aubrey (portrayed by Freddie Prinze Jr. in the television movie - *shudder*) is the true driving force behind the Shelf Monkeys – think Sean Penn but younger. Also must not look ridiculous in red dreadlocks, if such a thing is at all possible. Heath Ledger would have been great, but dammit he left too soon. I think Joaquin Phoenix would have both the physical and emotional strength for the weird bi-polar craziness Aubrey eventually manifests. If he’s unavailable, let’s go completely out there and get Seth Rogan. Again Canadian, and I think he’s got a dramatic edge that rarely gets used. Or get Robert Downey Jr.; I firmly believe the man can do anything. Oh, Iron Man, you'd better not suck.

Munroe, the true bad guy, is a very large man who emits generosity and lovability (a la Leo Buscaglia by way of Oprah), but underneath the televised image lurks a confused and embittered individual with a great deal of hatred toward the world at large. John Goodman may be too obvious a choice, but look at Barton Fink, and you’ll see a comedic talent with a huge reservoir of untapped dramatic potential. The lesser-known character actor John Carroll Lynch would also be a great choice, as his turn in Zodiac was truly chilling, and his lovability in Fargo is a perfect counterpoint.

Danae would be ideal for Reese Witherspoon, the crazy Reese from Election and Freeway before she went mainstream. The part demand an actress with indie cred, and Reese has simply gone too far the other way. I want to say Parker Posey, but as much as I love her, she’s simply the wrong age. Maggie Gyllenhaal is my choice; she has the edge, the talent, and the offbeat looks. Perfect.

All that being said, I’d love to know how others might cast my novel. If Shelf Monkey ever becomes a movie (holding breath begins now), I’d put in my two cents, but it would be fascinating just to watch how another person approaches the same material.

As for directors, I’d accept any of the following: Tarantino, the Coen brothers, Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, Greg Mottola, or Jason Reitman. With my luck, however, it’ll be Walt Becker or Andy Tennant. Augh.

Read more about the novel and author at the Shelf Monkey blog and listen to podcasts of two excerpts.

The Page 99 Test: Shelf Monkey.

--Marshal Zeringue