We also received a transcript of studio and production conversations regarding the casting of the film and other aspects. It seemed that the movie was rushed into inception after the improbable success of Garry Marshall’s Valentine’s Day. Both New Year’s Eve and Fooling April were pitched consecutively, with New Year’s Eve taking precedence at the studio. Marshall is not attached as director but is credited as an Executive Producer.
After a shortlist of possible directorial candidates that listed the obvious (Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner), the intriguing (Kathryn Bigelow, helming a film that is nothing like her usual modus operandi) and the patently predictable (Gary Winick, of Letters To Juliet and Bride Wars fame). Ultimately, the job fell to Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, The Proposal).
We do not like to comment on projects that actually haven’t been made yet, but Fooling April confirms a lot of our worst suspicions about the industry of making romantic comedies: it takes a village to put one together, but it sure doesn’t mean it will be funny.
Hugh Grant plays Nigel, an affable but down-on-his luck assistant manager at a Starbucks in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. He’s had two divorces, and, in the opening scene, his girlfriend breaks up with him in the middle of the coffee shop. He takes the rest of the day off, wanders through the streets and sees April (Jennifer Aniston) through the window of an art gallery.
April is a trust fund girl from Great Neck who, for all her education, has had no direction in life. She’s been handed everything so she’s never been able to understand the concept of developing emotional attachments to anything other than the cat she had as a child. The cat’s name was Sausage. We’ll pay that off later, but to establish the cat’s name, April has a picture of it as her laptop wallpaper. On the top it reads, “In Memory Of Sausage.” Beneath that, in Impact font, LOL Catz-style, it reads “I LUV U – CAN I HAZ CHEEZBURGER?”
He walks into the gallery, finds the courage to approach her and makes small talk about art, using the knowledge he remembered from a brief spell at college. She’s instantly attracted to the charming and handsome Englishman, and when she asks how come he knows so much about art, Nigel, using the trademark Grant stammer, claims to be a patron. She suggests they finish the discussion at the Starbucks around the corner. Nigel’s reaction startles April – and the other patrons of the gallery – but he regroups and recommends a different shop in a different neighborhood. She agrees, and as they drink, Jack is forced to suppress his knowledge of the roasting and brewing process.
They agree to a second date, but Nigel is worried that he’s not cool enough for her, so he enlists his Williamsburg-living employee, Dylan (Ryan Reynolds), to show him how to be a hipster. Dylan responds by loudly and out-of-tune singing Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” behind the counter, but he agrees after being promised a couple of paid days off so his band, Tiger Pride (the motto of his high school), can rehearse. Dylan takes Nigel on a tour of the hippest shops in Williamsburg, including a hilarious scene involving Grant trying to fit into skinny jeans.
Nigel: How the hell do you get into these things?
Dylan: Olive oil.
Nigel: Olive oil?!
Dylan: Don’t knock it. It’ll make you feel all Mediterranean.
Nigel: Or like the bowel obstruction just shifted.
This is intercut with scenes of April discussing Jack with her best friend, Belle (Renee Zellweger), a southern transplant. Belle is a successful business owner who isn’t afraid to tell the truth as she sees it, and is also quite a cougar. In order to prepare for her date, Belle takes April to an expensive salon where they meet Carlos (Ben Stiller), a flamboyantly gay hairdresser whose real name is Charles, but he wishes he was Hispanic.
Carlos: I was born to be south of the border.
(Other things to know about Charles/Carlos – He’s Jewish. Maybe we can get Joan Rivers to put in a cameo as his mom so we can do the Latino accent thing with the line, “Si, she’s a total Youish Henta.”)
The first planned date goes well, even though April is surprised at first by Nigel’s new look. She invites Nigel to meet her mother (Blythe Danner) at her house on Long Island. April’s room is still decorated the way it was back in high school, with a few stuffed animals on the bed and posters of Duran Duran on the wall. They’re about to kiss when her mother knocks on the door to say that the tea is ready, with a surprise.
The surprise is April’s aunt (Jane Fonda), and over tea she dominates the conversation with her overbearing demeanor and sexual innuendo. Dialogue example:
Aunt Anastasia: “Oh, our April, she was so precocious, so precocious. She had a cat growing up named Sausage. You know how she came to name him that?”
April turns pale, looks to her mother and mouths silently “stop her!” April’s mom throws up her hands to say, “There’s nothing I can do about this.”
Aunt Anastasia: “Well let’s just say she got that from me, because I was having a dry season on the dating scene, you see, and I said I really needed some sausage for my…”
April: “AUNT ANASTASIA, DO YOU NEED SOME MORE TEA?”
April and Nigel discuss their embarrassing situation on the way back into the city, which causes them to bond, and they make out in front of her apartment building. A montage of dates follows cut to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.”
For the next date, we need a celebrity to make an appearance as his/herself (maybe Quentin Tarantino? I’m thinking that the celebrity cameo is along the lines of “This was such a memorable night, we met (famous person)! Let’s fuck!”).
They’re making out, and she tells him that she’s been staying with her mother for a few days because her apartment is being sprayed for bedbugs. She doesn’t want to go all the way back to Long Island, so she asks if she could crash at his place. He tries to recommend a hotel, but he knows he can’t afford one because he maxed out his credit card on the date, so he agrees. Once she sees how he really lives, she gets angry – not because he is poor, but because he lied about it – and takes the first cab she sees back to Great Neck.
This thread doesn’t have enough Owen Wilson. That’s because he doesn’t show up until later. He’ll be playing the taxi driver who, on the way to taking April to the bus terminal, tells an anecdote (“There was this guy…”) which convinces her to stay.
The anecdote will sound as though it’s about him. He will begin to wrap up by saying, “And that guy…?” She will nod knowingly and say, “That guy was you, wasn’t it?” He will look shocked at her ignorance and reveal that, in fact, the anecdote was about someone else entirely, but we still have to organize the study group to determine the proper punchline. Right now, stats show that he will likely say, “No, actually, it was Charlie Sheen,” but we’ll probably wait until the last second to dub in the most contemporary name. (He’s a taxi driver, so we can just use a shot of his eyes in the rear view mirror when he delivers the line.)
April finds herself drawn to the common-guy cabbie who, after a couple dates, reveals himself to be a bit of an opportunist who knows more about April’s upper-crust background than she thought.
Meanwhile, Nigel is moping around at work. Dylan is trying to cheer him up. He takes a picture of Nigel and uploads it to his laptop, then proceeds to manipulate the pictures in a game called “What Borough Am I From?” Blatant stereotyping ensues. Nigel responds, “If I hadn’t played this game in my real life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Dylan: “At work?”
Nigel: “No Dylan, alone. I wouldn’t bloody well be alone!”
April finds herself talking to her aunt who asks April the big question: why was it okay to be with a “common” man who ended up being a dick, but not okay to be with a common man who put on airs for the sole purpose of being with her?
April has an epiphany and seeks to find Nigel, but he has quit his job at the Starbucks. Noticing the male barrista (cameo role – We could get Steve Carrell for this probably) is slightly flamboyant, she has an idea. She rushes from the Starbucks, bolts to the salon and gets Carlos, who is in the middle of frosting a customer’s tips. (I’m sure we can work in some blue humor regarding tip-frosting and Carlos’ inclinations). Improbably, she does manage to convince him to leave mid-job (Carlos: “Honey, I never like leaving a job half done!”), races back to Starbucks and introduces him to the barrista. They find out that Nigel has moved to Hoboken.
April: “Well, that’s it then.”
Belle: “Jesus Christ, girl. That’s it? A drive over the bridge into New Jersey is it? What would have happened if General Robert E. Lee just threw up his hands and said, fuck it, that’s it?”
April: “The Civil War would have ended sooner?”
Belle: “Hush up. We’re going where no sane woman has consensually gone before. We’re going… to New Jersey.”
That evening, April and Belle hit all the coffee houses in Hoboken in a montage to the tune of “Rich Girl” (covered by Bruno Mars – we have him already contracted to do it. We’ll see what his legal situation is closer to the release date) but do not find Nigel. Belle is so wired on espresso, she’s talking a mile a minute. April, depressed and trying to understand Belle through her spastic ranting, sees a gallery across the street. An employee appears to be shifting the art on the walls.
April goes inside, but Nigel is busy working in the gallery and does not see her. She asks him where she can get a decent cup of coffee. Big kiss, fade out.
(Scene over end credits) A night out at the bar, April and Nigel are arm-in-arm, Belle is scoping out Dylan and Carlos is sharing a table with Raul, who reveals his real name is Ralph, says that it’s just such a terribly pretentious thing to do and is so glad to have found someone so real like Carlos. Carlos has the “uh-oh” look on his face. Credit crawl continues to the song “Got To Be Real” by Cheryl Lynn.
The following is the inter-studio pre-casting transcript. We were unable to accurately attach names to the initials, so rather than speculating and getting into trouble for misappropriation, we’ve left it as we found it.
SM – Julia Stiles is one that comes to mind, Scarlett Johansen is another, maybe Megan Fox? I feel like there are even newer young “faces” that could be included…Olivia Wilde? Oh, we gotta get that Olivia Munn person in there.
Another minor casting note, and this is not to diminish from the brilliance of what Allie put together: I feel like a bit of the casting is three to five years behind.
AG – That was the point of it. This is the one that will put them back on top, baby. We know it skews to an older demographic, so we’ve made concessions to draw in the young. The Ryan Reynolds character is a shameless attempt to pander to the 500 Days Of Summer audience (complete with ironic use of Hall & Oates), and the celebrity cameo is to draw off the success of Mike Tyson’s in The Hangover.
I’m the thinking the celebrity cameo should be an ’80s TV star, maybe Mr. T.
SM – For the Ben Stiller role, I suggest Zach Galifinakis or Jonah Hill. For the Renee Zellweger role, I suggest Kristen Wiig or Casey Butler or any of the newer young women on SNL. And for the Hugh Grant part, I think…hmmm…maybe someone really stupid like Zac Efron? The idea that they’d be trying to play Efron against Aniston would be amusing. She’s old enough to be his mother.
AG – Big, big “no” on Jonah Hill. I got so burned with (Seth) Rogen on Green Hornet. Enough with the fat Apatow acolytes. He’s going to fuck up 21 Jump Street so badly, all we’ll get from the blowback is misery. Fuck that.
BN – We’ve already got Ryan (Reynolds) locked in. I’m not about to kick the hornet’s nest by casting his ex-wife in the movie. And I’m not comfortable with Wiig right now. If we knew in advance how Bridesmaids will do, then I’d be more comfortable in casting her. Right now? Too risky, too risky. Bad enough we’re putting so much stock in Hugh.
SD – I think I agree with replacing Ben Stiller, that’s already been done. However, I would suggest Kevin James – he’s the new Happy Madison sensation and I don’t think he’s had the pleasure of working with Aniston yet unless I’m forgetting something.
Hottest young actress, Olivia Munn would work – I think Scarlett Johansen has graduated past this kind of movie by now. Amy Adams might be a good pick – she’s definitely hot right now but could she work on this and Spiderman? Ellen Page, maybe Kat Dennings or Kaley Cuoco.
RS – Can Cuoco carry a movie?
SD – She does pretty well on Big Bang Theory. It’s only a matter of time before somebody helps her make the leap.
RS – The bank wants as few risks as possible. Give me something I can take to them to get them on our side, then we’ll see.
BN – And has Jack Black done a movie with (Aniston) yet?
SM – Did you see Gulliver’s Travels? Forget that!
SD – I’m setting up licensing with this movie station called Golden and they keep airing movies starring Danica McKellar. 80’s cameo!
AG – McKellar also has that whole hot-girl-math thing going that she’s been leveraging lately. I bet she’d be very into it.
RS – I like it!
SM – I like that too. Let’s see if we can make that happen…
And so on. While the concrete details are still sketchy, one thing is certain: with filming currently going on in Manhattan, it won’t be long before we get some more substantial information. Still, it is no wonder Aniston’s career has been shot through with box office failure. The by-the-numbers plotting of Fooling April pretty much assures that every trope and cliche of the genre is going to get a public flogging.
We’ll stay on top of this one and let you know more when we can.