So far, Rob Zombie directorial career has resulted in either terrible movies (House of 1,000 Corpses), movies that start strong than devolve into crap (2007’s Halloween) or something of a mixed bag (The Devil’s Rejects, The Lords of Salem). Or he makes The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, a nasty little bugger of a film where you’ll want to stand in the shower for nine days after watching. How, then, this qualifies him to bring Groucho Marx‘s life story to the screen is anyone’s guess, but stranger things have happened in Hollywood. As a matter of fact, looking into the details, Zombie’s involvement begins makes a little more sense.
[amz asin=”1593936524″ size=”small”]The biopic, based on Steve Stolair‘s memoir “Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House“, will not span the comedic actor’s whole career but rather his bizarre final ones as seen from his personal secretary/archivist and young fan’s perspective. In the process of working for his idol, Stolair also got to meet the likes of Mae West, George Burns, Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, S.J. Perelman, Steve Allen and Groucho’s own living brothers Zeppo and Gummo, and these personalities will reportedly also factor themselves into the eventual film. In addition to directing, Zombie also produces this one alongside Andy Gould and Miranda Bailey and Amanda Marshall from Cold Iron Pictures.
Zombie does have a running theme of outsiders looking into the strange, as seen by the aforementioned House of 1,000 Corpses and The Lords of Salem, and maybe he can use this unusually twisted perspective to his advantage, if the comic legend’s last years are as a deranged and unusual as they seem. It also doesn’t hurt that Zombie isn’t writing this one. Those duties belong to Oren Moverman, the writer behind The Messenger and most recently Love & Mercy, the latter proved him highly adept at personalizing a celebrity’s twisted seclusion to beneficial results.
To the musician/filmmaker’s credit, Zombie has tried to push himself beyond the horror genre — he even made a Tide commercial — and largely the problem with his movies is not his visual sense but rather his own pen. Should he resist the urge to rewrite Moverman’s screenplay this may very will be his first genuinely good movie, and I would like to see that happen.
Unlike many musician director’s, he’s got a distinct, uncompromising vision, and when he doesn’t let his overtly sick or deranged directing tendencies get the better of him, he can produce some memorably haunting work. He also, apparently, is a “huge Groucho Marx fan” ever since he was a child, and read “countless books on the comedy legend.” So he has that going for him.
Also, I’m hard pressed to believe Zombie will give old Hollywood the glossy-eyed look so many directors give it in their recent works. Groucho’s story is one that should be told on the big screen, and while Zombie isn’t the person I’d have pegged to do it, his take should at least be interesting. That’s more than I can say about most recent Hollywood biopics.
It should also be noted the director sees this movie as “Groucho’s Sunset Boulevard.” So at least he has a seemingly clear motive for this one. Who knows? Maybe this will be pretty good. I’m not sure who he has in mind to play Groucho, but let’s hope to God he doesn’t cast his wife in this one. [Deadline]