... with the announcement of a possible film version of John Kennedy Toole's novel A Confederacy of Dunces.
This romp through New Orleans stars the irrepressible Ignatius J. Reilly (pictured left), a gargantuan lover of medievalism, masturbation, and Stoic philosophy, whose perpetually indignant heart is matched only in size and enthusiasm by his permanently spasmodic gastric valve. Ignatius harasses the New Orleans "po-leece," shows us a remarkably efficient business model in his office job (don't file the papers, just toss them), and tries to launch liberation movements for the oppressed, such as the Crusade for Moorish Dignity and a similar effort among the screaming queens of the French Quarter. (It was written in the early sixties, after all.)
I tip Ignatius's green earflapped hat to Rod Dreher of the Crunchy Con blog
, who linked to this Slate Magazine article
about how attempts to bring this novel to the screen have been as spastic as Ignatius's valve. But mine almost closed shut permanently when I read that they plan to star Will Ferrell as Ignatius.
Will Ferrell. In a fat suit.
This is one of my favorite books, ever. (I only didn't put Ignatius J. Reilly down on the list of "fictional characters I'd do" meme because he's so resolutely anti-sexual. It just wouldn't be fun ...) I don't expect the film to be anything like the book. But this is so wrong, I don't know where to begin.
First, there's the fat suit. I admit that in a film like Shallow Hal
it was necessary, given the story line. But Ignatius doesn't magically switch between thin and fat. Ignatius is always fat. So there is no dramatic need for one.
Fat suits are a caricature of fat people, just like black-painted faces and exaggerated cornrows on white actors at the turn of the century grotesquely caricatured African-Americans. Portraying black people as ugly just reinforced the rampant racial prejudice of the time. Showing thin fat-suited actors is not the same as casting a real fat person, because the ugly and artificial fat suits don't look anything like a fat body.
They also send the message that just as black actors needed to be segregated from whites (even in separate entertainment districts, like New York's Harlem), fat people are somehow so "tainted" that they can't be given a starring movie role, even for a fat character.
Nor does a fat suit do justice to this character. Ignatius needs to be played by someone fat. Really fat, someone with the walk, the moves, the voice. He can't just lumber around like Fat Albert, under 100 lbs. of latex foam.
You know who would make a great Ignatius? Jorge Garcia from the TV show "Lost" (pictured right.) In that case, I might add Ignatius to my "fictional characters I'd do" list anyway...