Charlie kaufman in 2009

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been missing Charlie Kaufman’s brain. His last film, Synecdoche, New York came out six years ago and since then…nothing. His FX pilot, How And Why wasn’t picked up, otherwise we would have seen that from him this year. His only other credited work, the Dan Harmon-produced, stop motion film Anomalisa is still filming and at the rate those things take to make, who knows when we’ll finally get to see it.

The good news is, he just signed on to adapt the Arthur Herzog novel, I.Q. 83 as a starring vehicle for Steve Carell, a guy who has plenty of experience playing stupid. The premise is that a series of DNA experiments create an airborne virus that gradually decreases the intelligence of the population. Carell is set to play the lead scientist who, while losing his faculties, has to come up with a way to stop and reverse the damage.

This is so obviously a great match of material for Kaufman. Yeah, Idiocracy already exists and yeah, it’s brilliant, but that’s Mike Judge’s very particular take on things. Both he and Kaufman are geniuses in their own right and there has to be room for multiple interpretations of the same kind of material; otherwise, we’d never make another movie about Moses or the story of D-Day or anything else.

It’s impossible to say what Kaufman is going to bring to the table, but the man does existential dread better than almost anyone working today. His best stuff works in a dreamy way, with the kind of logic that dissipates the second you wake up, but can still make the back of your neck tingle like a spider-bite. Like when you have a fight with someone you know in a dream and you wake up mad at that person.

This is what’s known as a page one re-write of the material, so if it manages to make it through production unscathed, this won’t be a work-for-hire job. Now they just need to find a director…