Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Don't Accept Imitations!

I have a Hollywood rep who is peddling the movie/TV rights to My Inflatable Friend. Now, you might think a challenge would be that the presumed subject matter is deviant, bizarre, or insufficiently squeaky for a PG-13 rating.

Think again. The biggest objection so far is--it's been done!

Mind you, these other stories bear only superficial resemblance to Rollo Hemphill's pathetic misadventure. The first of the recent ones is The Valet (La Doublure, 2006), a French movie about a hapless car jockey at a luxury hotel in Paris who gets involved in a phony love triangle. Except in this case, the real-live femaleness of the woman in question is not at all in question. She's a doll, but a fleshy one, runway model lookalike Alice Taglioni. I'm one of the five people in the U.S. who saw the movie, and I have no worries that I was ripped off or vice versa.

However, apparently the Farrelly brothers thought the story was sufficiently zany and commercial to produce an English-language remake, also titled The Valet, which some say will be released this holiday season. I can't get much advance information about its plot but unless they've squared the love triangle with a rubber doll, I doubt they ripped me off.

A lump also came to my throat when I learned about Lars and the Real Girl, a movie premiering this month starring Ryan Gosling as a lonely guy who has a delusional relationship with a lifelike silicone dummy. Turns out they used a silicone-and-steel babe from the same manufacturer I cite (with permission) in MIF. There the similarity ends.

And... at least two episodes of Boston Legal have also featured synthetic females. (From the same source I suspect: Do you see a strong resemblance between the doll Jerry had in the car to Lars' main squeeze? I do.)

But remember the magic formula of Hollywood, which could well be a Goldwynism:

Kid, gimme a new idea that stood the test of time!

There are plenty of antecedents. Closer to Lars' story than to Rollo's is the movie Mannequin (1985) in which a love affair with a fashion dummy results in a transformation to live flesh with an attitude.

That idea was nothing new at all. In the ancient myth, Pygmalion, a sculptor, falls in love with the lovely statue he calls Galatea, and his passion brings her to life. George Bernard Shaw borrowed the story to craft his Pygmalion, from which Lerner and Loewe created My Fair Lady. Somewhere along the line the girl's transformation began as a street urchin rather than a statue.

So expect the new cable-TV series (aimed squarely at the Entourage audience and the guys who didn't care that Flight of the Conchords was lame) The Misadventures of Rollo Hemphill -- I just can't give you a date. We're waiting to see whether the dummy goes SAG and holds out for Web residuals.

And if the Hollywood truism holds true, also be looking for a remake of My Fair Lady with Eliza first seen in remarkably realistic silicone and steel.

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