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Five Things to Know About Charlie Kaufman’s Wild New Movie, Frank or Francis

Charlie Kaufman.

If you've been jonesing for a Charlie Kaufman fix, this moment is an indubitably exciting one. The cerebral writer of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has two projects ready that will shoot soon: a satire about conniving world leaders set to star Joaquin Phoenix and be directed by Spike Jonze, and Frank or Francis, a Hollywood send-up that Kaufman himself will direct (his first behind-the-camera effort since his directorial debut with 2008's Synecdoche, New York). Over the weekend, a wealth of details and new castings emerged on the latter project, and from what we've heard, Frank or Francis is even more out there than you might have dreamed.

1. Steve Carell will play former screenwriter Frank Arder, who's segued into acting and directing with his new movie You, which has been nominated for a ridiculously record-breaking 29 Oscars. Consider Arder the self-important, highbrow version of Eddie Murphy, since in You, he plays each of the roles, including a homeless man, women, children, and African-Americans.

2. We'd heard before that Frank or Francis was about Frank Arder's relationship with this entertainment blogger who constantly insults him online, but it turns out, that isn't quite right: Arder's nemesis is Francis Deems, an entertainment blog commenter. He'll be played by Jack Black.

3. Kaufman's Adaptation star Nicolas Cage is set to play Alan Modell, a comedian on the wane who's hosting the Oscars. Modell's famous credit? A wildly popular movie franchise called Fat Dad, which sounds like the sort of fake credit you might find in Tracy Jordan's 30 Rock filmography.

4. Kevin Kline was just added to the cast, in a bizarre dual role: He'll play the brother of Jonathan Waller, a director whose Oscar-bait movie Hiroshima failed to win Best Picture. Despondent, Waller and his brother (which Kline will also play) create a computer program meant to analyze all previous Oscar winners and spit out the most awards-friendly script imaginable. The result is a perfectly calibrated screenplay named God.

5. Frank or Francis is a musical, with nearly half the dialogue sung: In particular, anything the characters are writing online will be delivered in sing-song. (This particular article has sort of a nineties Britpop sound, if you were wondering.) Oh, and did we mention that there are also two talking thumbs conspiring on behalf of a Romanian political agenda? Sorry, Magic Mike: You've got competition now on our most-anticipated list.

Charlie Kaufman Says Zany, Outrageous ‘Frank Or Francis’ Is About “Online Film Criticism” [Playlist/Indiewire]
Kevin Kline Joins 'Frank or Francis' [Variety]

Photo: BJORN LARSSON ROSVALL/SCANPIX/AFP/Getty Images