DID YOU READ

ADAPT THIS: “Rodd Racer” by Toby Cypress

ADAPT THIS: “Rodd Racer” by Toby Cypress (photo)

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: Rodd Racer by Toby Cypress

The Premise: In a dark, dirty city of the future, the “Thunder Alley Rally” is the biggest event of a generation. Rodd Racer must outrun the greatest racers in the world and a dangerous assassin in order to win the race and save his own life and the life of the woman he loves.

The Pitch: A good adaptation of Rodd Racer will combine the high-octane action of the “Fast and the Furious” movies with the steampunk-noir style of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” flavored with a dash of the Eastern-cinema-meets-classic-Western fusion that Quentin Tarantino does so well.

At its heart, Rodd Racer is a throwback to classic 1950s and ’60s crime stories, with its hero perpetually covered in bandages and backed into a corner by his dealings with the more clear-cut bad guys. He simply wants to do right by the owman he loves and get out from under the bad guys’ thumb — but he’ll have to take an even bigger risk in order to win his freedom. Much like Donald Westlake’s popular thief, Parker, Rodd Racer finds himself having to stay one step ahead of the mob in order to pull off his redemption scheme.

At just around 60 pages, Cypress’ story will need some padding to reach standard feature-film length — a condition that should appeal to studios and production teams craving the freedom to shape a story in their own way. There’s quite a bit of implied background material that Cypress doesn’t touch on in the comic, so there’s ample room to expand the narrative and build a unique world around its cast.

Rather than offering a future filled with jet packs and hoverboards, the setting for Rodd Racer is more of a steampunk retro-future, with zeppelins filling the skies and races conducted in nitro-fueled, old-school stock cars. Cypress’ future-world is ruled by vintage visions of the future mixed with actual, modern-age technology (hence the earlier “Sky Captain” reference) — something that should be fairly easy to pull off without drowning the story in special effects. This isn’t “Speed Racer,” after all.

The story’s small cast of characters allows ample opportunity for actors to make the roles their own, and the brevity of the source material leaves more than enough room to expand the narrative and otherwise develop the story into a more well-rounded movie experience.

The tough-guy lead in Rodd Racer is the sort of role someone like Tom Hardy would be a great fit for, combining equal parts action, drama, and the ability to make a grease-stained undershirt and a bandaged nose seem like the coolest look in the world. There’s also room for a strong female lead in Rodd Racer’s nemesis, the assassin nicknamed Drag’On. Tack on Rodd’s garage-jockey girlfriend and the weasel-like mob boss putting the pressure on Rodd, and there are more than a few meaty casting opportunities in a Rodd Racer adaptation.

Of course, even after all of these other elements are settled, the real focus of a “Rodd Racer” movie should be the race itself. If the film’s director can capture anything close to the sort of tense, edge-of-your-seat race experience found in films like “Ronin” or the more flashy, unbelievable physics of the “Fast and the Furious” films or “The Transporter,” there’s great fun to be had in “Rodd Racer.”

The Closing Argument: Many of the car-racing films to hit theaters lately have gelled into a very similar, very tired cinematic experience. An adaptation of Rodd Racer puts a new spin on the genre, but doesn’t take it so far off-base that the audience can no longer connect with it (a la “Speed Racer”). Rodd Racer is a character-driven story at its most basic level, set against a fast-paced race in a stylized retro-urban landscape. It could be just the sort of fresh perspective on gritty racing stories that Hollywood needs.


Would “Rodd Racer” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.