While I can live with Ben Stiller directing The Trial of the Chicago 7, the film he took up after Steven Spielberg moved on, I’d much rather see him going forward with a film like Help Me Spread Goodness. The Mark Friedman script, which landed on the 2008 Black List (a list of favorite unproduced screenplays compiled by a mysterious and sinister Hollywood cabal) now has Stiller attached to direct.
The central figure is a banker who falls for the classic Nigerian prince email scam, and loses his son’s college fund in the process. He heads to Nigeria to face the scammers (just having them take silly photos isn’t enough for this tough guy) and that’s where the story becomes more than just a wacky comedy. Variety bills it as a ‘dramedy’, and there’s reason to expect a little bit of sensitive anti-comedy as the banker realizes that these scams are driven by people who are, like, poor and shit.
But Stiller worked some biting commentary into Tropic Thunder without compromising a bit of that movie’s comedy potential, so there’s reason to think he could do the same thing here. The story offers no shortage of material, especially if the dumbass who fell for this thing in the first place turns out to be the bad guy.