John Belushi Biopic is Back On, and it's Going Indie
Great news for comedy fans: Not only has the promised John Belushi biopic been resurrected from the dead, but it’s also been pried from the hands of frat pack director Todd Phillips and steered in a new, indie direction. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the previously floundering project has been revived in the hands of Steve Conrad, who wrote The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and who will be directing his first film since 2008’s The Promotion. Dan Aykroyd is on board as an executive producer, as is Belushi’s widow, Judy Belushi Pisano. It’s impossible to predict how it will turn out, of course, but the project seems to be in steady hands.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with Todd Phillips, of course, but a look at his directing credits (mostly “bro” comedies like Old School, Due Date, and the Hangover franchise) raises serious doubt as to whether he was up to the task of honoring one of America’s boldest, funniest and most tragic comedians, whose life and career were cut short at age 33 when he overdosed on cocaine and heroin. Phillips isn’t exactly known for exploring the human element in his characters, and there was a real danger that he’d have diminished Belushi for the consumption of a simple audience.
Still, there’s plenty of room for skepticism. Neither The Weather Man or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Conrad’s main writing credits, dazzled critics or audiences. But at least there’s some complexity in his style, and a willingness to explore all sides of comedy, including the sides that don’t require a bit of patience before the payoff. In some ways, this may be the perfect vehicle for Conrad, and at the very least it’s a more appropriate fit for an icon as complicated as Belushi.
Conrad is considering actors as diverse as Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Adam Devine (Workaholics) and Joaquin Phoenix to play Belushi. Nelson Franklin has been considered to play Aykroyd.
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