By Christopher Campbell | Spout March 1, 2011 at 2:07AM
It's not surprising that Tim Burton is attached to a new version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." What is surprising is that it's not at Disney. Also, it's kind of a surprise that it will star Josh Brolin rather than Johnny Depp (though the Burton regular could wind up CGI'd as the title character if Brolin is playing Judge Claude or Phoebus). Anyway, while it won't be another ironic commitment to the Mouse House it is in a way his second "remake" of a Disney Animated Feature (is their "Hunchback" considered a Disney Classic?) after the double-Oscar-winning "Alice in Wonderland" (oh, also there was "Sleepy Hollow," which Disney did as a short). Could he keep going? I can see it, sadly, and I've got just the five titles most appropriate for his style and interests. Check out my list of predictions (or suggestions?), some with casting ideas, after the jump.
How perfect is Burton for the story of the little wooden puppet? Well, I immediately thought of Pee-Wee Herman for the role, since Burton directed "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." And guess what? Paul Reubens, aka Pee-Wee, has already starred in a production of "Pinocchio." In a 1984 episode of Shelley Duvall's "Faerie Tale Theatre," he was the puppet to Carl Reiner's Gepetto. I guess that means Burton should go with someone else for the title role. Maybe little Atticus Shaffer, who appears in Burton's upcoming "Frankenweenie," while Depp could be Gepetto and Honest John and Stromboli and every other major character, just as Jim Carrey did for "A Christmas Carol." Actually, Reubens needs a cameo somewhere; how about Jiminy Cricket? You know it won't be worse than the Roberto Benigni or Jonathan Taylor Thomas versions. Anyway, here is Pee-Wee's Pinocchio in full:
Between "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" and "Big Fish," we know Burton can do some creepy circus sequences. Now all he has to do is make an elephant fly. Matt Lucas can be Dumbo and Timothy Spall can be Timothy Q. Mouse. This time Depp gets a minor role as the stork. Danny DeVito reunites with Burton for the Ringmaster (I totally thought of this before remembering DeVito plays the ringleader in "Big Fish"). I can't think of any black actors in Burton's movies, so who knows who'll play the crows? Here's why the pink elephant scene will be even scarier this time around:
3. "Robin Hood"
You know you want to see Burton's version of Sherwood Forest with Depp as the foxy lead. Alan Rickman is Prince John. Helena Bonham Carter as Sir Hiss. Stephen Fry as Little John. Spall as Friar Tuck. Sacha Baron Cohen as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Crispin Glover and Reubens as Nutsy and Trigger. And just for old times sake forgive Jeffrey Jones of his crimes and cast him as one of those rhino guards. Oodalalee! Here's why I love trailer mashups:
4. "The Black Cauldron"
Maybe a remake of this legendary flop can be Burton's final film, just as it was his (I'm pretty sure) last credit at Disney -- the first time, that is. Of course, this one has mostly human characters so it's not as fun to cast. Let's go with Freddie Highmore for Taran, Christopher Walken as the Horned King, Mia Waskikowska as Princess Eilonwy, Martin Landau as Dallen, Bill Murray as Fflewddur Fflam, Depp as Gurgi and Helena Bonham Carter as Hen Wen. Here's what Burton looked like when he was working on the original (as seen in the documentary "Waking Sleeping Beauty")"
Just as Burton has returned to "Frankenweenie" and shall return to "The Black Cauldron," perhaps he can also return to "Aladdin." While he did not direct the "Pinocchio" episode of "Faerie Tale Theatre," he did helm the 1986 installment for "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp." This starred Robert Carradine, straight from "Revenge of the Nerds" as the title character and James Earl Jones as the Genie. If that's not an odd enough cast for you, throw in some Leonard Nimoy and Valerie Bertinelli. I say Burton get the whole gang back together for the remake. At least for cameos? Nimoy might be difficult. Obviously this time Depp's the Genie. And somehow he might just end up more obnoxious than Robin Williams. Here's Depp's original "Aladdin" in full: