Jared Hess Helming Family Sci-Fi Comedy The Pet

Efren Ramirez and Jon Heder in Napoleon Dynamite
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Jared Hess, the director best known for his breakout hit Napoleon Dynamite, is going into business with Disney and producer Scott Rudin. Hess has agreed to helm The Pet, a science-fiction project that has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time but now appears ready to fast-track its way to theaters, according to Variety.

Based on an original idea by Short Circuit screenwriter Matt Lieberman, The Pet follows a human who is abducted by extraterrestrials and turned into their family pet. The trade notes that Rudin has been shepherding this picture along since 2007, when he was still with Disney and under contract at Miramax. No word yet on when Hess will begin Pet production.

The tone of the comedy will be family-friendly, making it a perfect fit for Disney, and now The Pet will have to be tailored to fit the comedic styles of whomever is hired to play the abducted human. Hess could bring over Napoleon star Jon Heder, whose career basically stalled after 2007’s Blades of Glory. The broad premise also seems like a natural fit for an Eddie Murphy, Tim Allen or Jack Black, who also worked with Hess on Nacho Libre.

Hess basically has been chasing the spotlight since Dynamite, missing on Libre and Gentlemen Broncos, which few saw. If handled properly, Disney (and Rudin, specifically) could turn The Pet into a big hit. And there must be something special about the idea if Rudin’s been willing to stay with it as long as he has. We’ll see where The Pet goes, but expect movement now that a director is in place.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.