Tim Burton Takes Over Directing On BIG EYES, Balances That Iffy Move With Huge Casting Improvement

Smile: You woke up in a world where Christoph Waltz can replace Ryan Reynolds in a movie.

When BAD last checked in on Big Eyes, Tim Burton was set to produce the biopic, written by Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander. At the time, the screenwriting team was also perched to direct this crazy true story of Margaret and Walter Keane, a couple whose divorce in the 1960s blossomed into an epic courtroom battle when Margaret claimed the kitschy, ubiquitous pop art portraits which made Walter a millionaire actually came from her paintbrush. The production announced Ryan Reynolds and Reese Witherspoon as the couple, and then things went quiet for a year and change.

Yesterday, in some serious "good news/bad news" type shit, it was announced that the film will now star Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, and that Burton himself will be directing. (Cue internet sighs here.) Witherspoon is a fine actress, but Amy Adams is on a serious roll lately, so I'd have to give the edge to her here. On the other hand, I'm struggling to think of any instance in their respective CVs in which Ryan Reynolds and Christoph Waltz could have effectively filled each other's shoes in any given role. While it's fascinating to ponder Waltz pretending to be engaged to his boss Sandra Bullock, and I think Adventureland might have been improved with Waltz as a philandering burnout musician fixing amusement park rides, picturing Ryan Reynolds in a role meant for Waltz conjures up cinematic disasters on the level of John Wayne as Genghis Khan. (Yes, kids, that actually happened.) So while this recasting news is cause for rejoicing, one must also wonder what kind of trainwreck we just missed out on.

We don't yet know the details of what catalyzed this epic shift, but this film just became a whole lot more interesting to me, even on the director front. Mostly because I'd argue that Burton, who recently broke my heart with his big-screen adaptation of Dark Shadows, is at his best when he's forced to splice his sensibilities with the real world: Big Fish was flawed but certainly had its moments, and at the time felt like a new direction for Burton - that direction being "not up his own ass." And of course his masterpiece remains Ed Wood, which bodes well for Big Eyes, as it was also written by Karaszewski and Alexander.

Great cast, fascinating story, Tim Burton maybe being shaken out of complacency? I'll choose hope. Weigh in, imagine Christoph Waltz's take on Green Lantern, or ponder how Burton will complete his Big Trilogy in 2024 in the comments.

 

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