Ben Stiller’s Greenberg opened last weekend to an impressive $40,000 per-screen average, though that was in three theaters in the two cities — New York and L.A. — most likely to embrace Noah Baumbach’s tale of urban misanthropy. Now, as Stiller waits to see how the rest of the country will warm to a grouchier, skinnier, less-apoplectic version of himself, the currently unassigned actor has a new project to pick. Vulture has learned of three near-term projects that are clamoring for Stiller’s attention, but which one he picks is a decision too important to be left in the hands of Ben or his agents. Quite simply, we need you to vote, because while we can blithely ignore studio pablum like Night at the Museum 6: Tempest at the Tate Modern, we just can’t risk another Keeping the Faith.
Here they are, in order of likely occurrence:
1. Let Me Spread Goodness: A Chicago banker gets swindled in a Nigerian Internet scam; it would be directed and produced by Stiller, who’s already scouted locations in Africa.
PROS: After Tropic Thunder, his directorial skills are a plus. Also, it is not a kids movie overdependent on effects.
CONS: Cast members of future Madagascar movies will be subjected to interminable how-to lectures on differentiating the African Pygmy Mouse from the African Grass Rat.
2. Mr. Popper’s Penguins: The same Mr. Poppers whose house is overrun by waddling pets that you recall reading about in grade school; it’s currently set up at Twentieth Century Fox with a script from Hot Tub Time Machine screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris. Downside: It’s being produced by the brand-name-hoardingest, nostalgia-for-nostalgia’s-sake-iest producer in the business, John Davis (Dr. Dolittle, Garfield, Fat Albert, Marmaduke).
PROS: The psychotic penguins from Madagascar secretly amuse us.
CONS: The psychotic penguins from Madagascar are not in this movie.
3. We Bought a Zoo: Edward Mee’s sporadically poignant and amusing autobiographical recollection of his family’s takeover of an ailing zoo in southwestern England has landed director Cameron Crowe, who’s taking another pass at the original script by The Devil Wears Prada screenwriter Alene Brosh McKenna before a likely September start to production.
PROS: Great script, great director.
CONS: Enough with the African safari already …
So, which one should it be?