Wednesday, April 19, 2023

E.J. Copperman’s "Ukulele of Death"

E.J. Copperman’s new novel is Ukulele of Death, first in the Fran and Ken Stein Mystery series. Copperman also writes the Jersey Girl Legal Mystery series, currently represented by And Justice For Mall and soon to be joined by My Cousin Skinny. When not otherwise occupied, Copperman lives in New Jersey.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Ukulele of Death:
If they were to make Ukulele of Death into a movie, who would I want to see in the lead roles? I confess I haven’t given it much thought because the possibility seems pretty remote, but it’s a fun fantasy game to play.

First, we’d have to identify who “they” might be. Film and television are such quirky businesses, and these days the brand of the distributor/studio/network/streaming service is so central to the project that it’s hard to know what the parameters of such an endeavor might be. But let’s decide for the sake of our argument that there’s an unlimited budget and we can choose from anybody living or dead.

Ukulele of Death, the first in the Fran and Ken Stein (I’ll give you a second) Mystery series, is meant to be intriguing, engaging, maybe a little touching but also definitely funny. If you’re not amused I didn’t do my job well enough.

So we’d need a director and actors with a certain flair for the comedic. Mel Brooks, at 96, might not be taking on new projects, and maybe his style isn’t exactly right for this novel (although he did make Young Frankenstein, perhaps the best comedy ever filmed).

Rian Johnson, of the Knives Out films and Peacock’s Poker Face series, would seem to be the best fit, but he has a penchant for the Agatha Christie I-suppose-you’re-wondering-why-I-called-you-all-here-tonight style of mystery, which this is mostly not. And while Judd Apatow seems like a very nice guy, his comedies have never really done much for me. Comedy is the most subjective of art forms. What I find hilarious you might consider sophomoric or antiquated. And both of us would be right.

So let’s consider actors. The two leads are – as one might expect – Fran Stein and her brother Ken, two people who weren’t so much born as created, if you get what I mean. They have a few quirks to them, like having to plug themselves into a wall outlet every few days to maintain their energy. They’re both larger than life in a literal and metaphorical sense.

So we need leads who can look like they’d be imposing, and who are believable in action sequences. People like Dwayne Johnson for Ken and Gal Gadot for Fran might be the most obvious choices, but The Rock is a bit older than Ken (as, to be fair, is Gal for Fran), so maybe Jason Momoa for Ken and, my own personal choice, Natasha Lyonne for Fran. She’s not tall enough and I don’t care; she fits the part. She’s snarky and a little offbeat and that would suit a woman who is always aware that she’s seen as different.

But hey, if some crazy producer reads Ukulele of Death and wants to make a film of it starring intelligent flamingos, I’m all for it as soon as the check clears.
Visit E. J. Copperman's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Thrill of the Haunt.

--Marshal Zeringue