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For a while, it seemed as though Jack Black was becoming the premier comic leading man of his generation, and with a couple of more hits that coronation would have been complete. Instead, Black stumbled with Gulliver’s Travels and subsequently disappeared from leading man roles. He was excellent in 2011’s little-seen Bernie but that wasn’t much of a hit, and Black has busied himself since then with television appearances and voice work. Even if you were growing tired of his schtick, you might have missed him a little.
Fortunately, it looks like Black is about to return, collaborating with his School Of Rock and Nacho Libre mate Mike White for The D-Train. According to THR, Black will play a sadsack high school reunion chairman tasked with finding the most popular guy from his graduating class and bring him back to his hometown. Presumably that’s the character in the title, and he’d be played by super-handsome James Marsden, who would be playing a failed actor in Los Angeles who has turned to commercials.
White, a critically acclaimed screenwriter who also helped create HBO’s Enlightened, will play Black’s "only friend in high school," while fellow scribe Nat Faxon (The Descendants) is in negotiations to join the cast as well. Neither is responsible for the script (though White is producing), as that credit falls to Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel as writers and first-time directors. Both seem to have a strong reputation in the comedy world, since that’s what it takes to get gigs penning the Jim Carrey comedy Yes Man and the failed Jonah Hill series Allen Gregory. Carrey was fond enough of their work on Yes Man to hire them for a Bruce Almighty sequel, which makes sense since apparently the dude made $36 million off that terrible movie.
As for the premise of this film, which is being made independently, well… what high school reunion has the funds to fly people back and forth from Los Angeles? Hell, I didn’t even get invited to my high school reunion. The condescension from the premise is ripe: Marsden’s actor is "failed" because he works in commercials - as though there weren’t a ton of very successful actors who only work in commercials. And why does the original article have to emphasize that Black still lives in "middle America"? Is Hollywood ever going to stop perpetuating the notion that losers live in small towns and winners make it to the big city? It’s kind of a tired trope.
Black’s got a full slate for when he returns to the big screen, living up projects like Will Ferrell team-up Tag Brothers and a Goosebumps adaptation. Aside from that, you kind of hope he re-acquires the clout he once had so that he could get that fabled Frank Or Francis from Charlie Kaufman project back online. That thing sounded incredible.