You’d think a giant ape would be enough animal for anyone. Not Naomi Watts, who has signed up to headline an adaptation of Amy Sutherland’s book Kicked, Bitten and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World’s Premiere School For Exotic Animal Trainers. (Buy the book from CHUD!) Sutherland spent a year at the school taking classes and interacting with the students in true Susan Orlean journalism style.
I haven’t read the book, but Todd Thompson, an Amazon user, has: "The title really says exactly what the book is about and the author’s attitude about it. Her view on animals: they kick, bite and scratch. And poop, lots and lots of poop discussion. She doesn’t really like animals and presents an unsympathetic view. The second half of the title says the book is about life, meaning the students, not the animals. Most of the book is about how unpleasant the experience is, how unbalanced the students lives are and their broken relationships. You won’t learn anything about animals here."
I’ll hazard a guess that the movie will focus more on the broken relationships than the poop. Variety indicates it’s being devloped as a romcom, but that still leaves room for a self-reflexive subplot in which Watts’ pseudo-romantic interest is making psychoactive drugs from the animal dung, leading to a showdown with the unlikely twin brothers that are turning her book into a screenplay. Or maybe Watts will make out with a camel and learn a valuable lesson.
Before Kicked, Bitten and Scratched gets off the ground, however, we’ll have Watts in two other promising projects: Michael Haneke’s remake of his own Funny Games with Tim Roth and Michael Pitt; and Eastern Promises, Cronenberg’s nearly finished follow-up to A History of Violence, also featuring Viggo.