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If you had to make a list of great contemporary comedy directors, Adam McKay would have to be at the top. And following the rousing success of Anchorman 2, he’s got his pick of exciting projects. The next one, however, seems a bit out of his wheelhouse at first glance: are you ready for the director of Step Brothers to tackle the housing and market crisis of the late 00’s?
McKay will be writing and directing The Big Short, based on the non-fiction book by Michael Lewis (via ComingSoon). Like Lewis’ Moneyball, the book takes a ground-level view of a major financial wrinkle, where foolhardy financial practices led to a dark recession, and how some actually saw the cataclysm coming, either deriving benefit from the fall of powerful financial institutions through derivative market violation, or simply watching, mouths agape, as Rome fell.
Brad Pitt’s Plan B is producing the feature, which likely means they’ll be moving ahead really soon on this project. McKay’s an outspoken critic of the collapse, and he took a stand on the issue of dubious lending in the silly action comedy The Other Guys. While that picture fits in well with McKay’s farcical narratives about the flaws of American exceptionalism, it zeroes in on the criminal negligence of a Wall Street broker (Steve Coogan) who is trusted to invest the pensions of the NYPD. Amusingly, Mark Wahlberg’s brutish cop cops to having no understanding of what’s exactly going on, continuing to blame and/or demand the help of the Federal Reserve.
Sadly, this likely means that all sides couldn’t put together Uptown Saturday Night, where McKay was set to direct both Denzel Washington and Will Smith in a remake of the Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby comedy. McKay and Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller were writing the film for the duo to star in, and surely with two proven superstars it would have been easy to secure a manageable budget. Alas, ‘twas not to be.
While promoting Anchorman 2, McKay very actively talked up The Big Short as a potential dream project in his post-Anchorman life. Here’s what he had to say in an interview with Empire:
"It’s the best book ever written about finance, banking, the stock market. It’s all about five guys who knew that the 2008 collapse was coming before it happened. Some of them try to warn people, and some go, ‘Screw it, I’m going to short the market!’ These were the few sane people who knew what was happening and it’s about what it’s like to be the one person in the room who actually knows that the building is about to collapse and no-one will believe you. It’s a page-turner. You read it and by the end you completely understand the ’08 collapse."
Need more perspective? Here’s a look at McKay’s angry pie chart regarding the matter from The Other Guys.