(This story is a big fat vat of untruth! And it’s all Variety’s fault! Though it’s true that Gervais was approached to star in this awful-sounding comedy, he had the good sense to turn it down, thus freeing up the producers to cast Steve Martin or Tim Allen. Well done, Ricky! Sorry for doubting you.)
Are we okay with Ricky Gervais selling out a little after The Office and Extras? Can we accept him taking a paycheck gig here and there after providing us countless hours of comedic bliss? Do we have a choice in the matter?
Not really. Last year, Gervais appeared in eminently disposable Night at the Museum, and that didn’t detract in the least from the brilliant second season of Extras (which aired in early 2007 stateside). Now, he’s set to star in his first American feature, Early Retirement, for Warner Brothers (and, specifically, Mosaic Media’s Charles Roven and Richard Suckle). The movie, based on a pitch by Mark Perez (who’s oeuvre is hateful), is about "a work obsessed man who quits his demanding job to spend more time with his family." That’s the hook, you see. Most movies like this end with the protagonist promising to devote himself to his wife and family, after which it’s all presumed happily ever after. Like Santa Sangre.
Perez recently took advantage of the looming strike to sell Universal on an Elizabeth Banks vehicle, so he’s not a complete sack of shit. But I nearly got Rastar to bite on a sequel to Downtown yesterday (with Earthquake taking over Forest Whitaker’s role), so let’s not get give this guy too much credit. There’s no director attached yet, but I’m sure Jonathan Lynn, Ted Kotcheff or Hugh Wilson would love to nail down a pre-work stoppage project.
As for Gervais, we’ll give him a pass. Just don’t make a habit out of this.