Thanks to Where The Wild Things Are, Hollywood now knows that you don't need to have more than 130 words in a source material to make a successful live-action children's-book-to-film adaptation. (However, you may need a lot of therapy-speak, some great costumes, and the ability to wring of James Gandolfini's loud, sonorous breathing for every ounce of dramatic effect possible.) Of course, words and already developed characters might not hurt, which is maybe why Hollywood (the giant, monolithic entity. Heard of it?) has decided to make a movie out of the beloved Berenstain Bears books. Well, that and the fact that Hollywood (the giant monolithic entity) is entirely out of original ideas.
From USA Today:
Shawn Levy, director of the Night at the Museum movies, has signed on to produce a feature film based on The Berenstain Bears books, a comedy he says will be a mix of live-action and computer animation.
The books, by Jan and the late Stan Berenstain, have maintained their popularity for almost a half-century. The characters were first published in 1962 in The Big Honey Hunt.
"To stand that kind of test of time is pretty formidable," says Levy, who will produce the film through his company, 21 Laps. "People read them as kids and can now read them to their kids. Any piece of culture that proves that enduring has something special in its DNA."
Though his next film is the more adult Tina Fey-Steve Carell comedy Date Night, the Berenstain films "happen to fit firmly within the wheelhouse of family-genre comedy I do, whether it's Cheaper by the Dozen or Night at the Museum," Levy says. "It's warm-hearted comedy about family, and a different kind of family."
Like, a bear family? With disconcerting claws, even though they're still pretty much anthropomorphized? That kind of different kind of family? Yes:
"I'd like the film to be un-ironic about its family connections but have a wry comedic sensibility that isn't oblivious to the fact that they're bears," Levy says. "The comedy comes from this bear family coexisting in a more recognizably real world."
So basically it's The Brady Bunch Movie but with a bear-people family substituted for the 1970s-people family. Brother and Sister Bear go to high school, oblivious to the fact that they're bears. Ma and Pa bear go to work, oblivious to the fact that they're bears. The climactic event is a school talent show where the bears triumph (despite…or maybe because of being bears) and everyone learns a lesson. About bears. This movie writes itself—which is good because they haven't hired a writer yet.
As long as the Berenstain Bears remain recognizable, this movie can't miss!
The Berenstain Bears have existed as 2-D illustrations for so long, they are also getting "a slight makeover to bring it into the three-dimensional style, but we'll embrace the core design elements," Bostick says. "It'll be a slightly modern spin on their look."
In case you're wondering, that extra, 3rd dimension they're going to be adding to the bears is going to be made entirely out of neon, sunglasses, and highlights for the fur of Mama and Sister. Basically, it's Poochie-fication of the Berenstain Bears. Also "Slightly modern spin" roughly translates to "lots of fun leggings and cropped bomber jackets for Sister, and some Jeremy Piven vests for Brother."
When is Hollywood (the giant monolithic entity) going to make a live-action Amelia Bedelia movie? It's the ultimate fish-out-of-water story! And they could update her look with some hideous over-the-knee boots. Or they could go the Where The Wild Things Are route, and instead of making a children's movie, make a movie about childhood—except in the case of Amelia Bedelia it wouldn't be a punny movie, it would be a movie about puns. They could call it Drawing The Drapes: Amelia Bedelia.