James Franco’s ZEROVILLE Is… A Buddy Comedy?

A sales trailer may be misleading.

A couple of years ago I read and fell in love with Zeroville, a novel by Steve Erickson. It follows Vikar, a bald, tattooed, seemingly autistic man who is obsessed with movies and quick to violence as he heads to Hollywood to follow his dreams and gets caught up in the nascent New Hollywood scene. I really love this book, which is not just a great novel on its own but also a text full of the kinds of references and easter eggs only true movie obsessives can understand. It's brilliant. 

One thing it isn't: a comedy. I mean, there's funny stuff, but Zeroville isn't a comedy in the strictest sense. It certainly isn't a buddy comedy. And yet here we have the sales trailer for James Franco's adaptation of the movie, which plays it off as the next film in a series that includes This Is The End and The Interview. It's sort of disorienting. 

I suspect this trailer is cut in a way that is obfuscating the reality, although Franco's casting of his comedic cronies does give me pause. I hope that Zeroville hasn't been turned into a broad comedy; I made my peace with Franco turning this book into one of his many art projects, but I was sort of hoping it would be something he took seriously, like Child of God (which I love). Let's put it this way: almost none of the songs in the trailer are likely to be in the finished movie, as they're all very expensive, so perhaps that deception extends to the editing. That would be fitting, as Zeroville is very much about editing. 

Anyway, here's the trailer. Like I said, it leans on the jokes but at least the movie looks good, cinematically, minus some of the bad wigs and beards. Coincidental timing: there's a scene in this trailer poking fun at Love Story. The director of that film died yesterday!

(video removed upon request)