By Joe Cunningham | The Playlist March 1, 2012 at 9:01AM
Jared Hess, remember him? Well back in 2004 he was one of the hottest young directors on the block after the success of “Napoleon Dynamite,” which achieved almost instantaneous cult status and spawned a generation of kids who became inseperable from their "Vote For Pedro" t-shirts. His next project looked set to be a sure fire hit – a similarly quirky comedy, “Nacho Libre” -- only instead of the unknown Jon Heder, he had comedy titan Jack Black still riding the crest of the wave of success from “School of Rock” and “King Kong.” But the film opened to poor reviews, and despite a solid enough showing at the domestic box office, it flopped internationally. Following that up with “Gentleman Broncos” did him no good at all, and eventually Hess found himself back where he started – creating “Napoleon Dynamite – The Animated Series.”
But it looks like Hess’ luck is about to change (maybe revisiting “Napoleon Dynamite” reminded Hollywood why they liked him in the first place) because uber-producer Scott Rudin has selected him to helm “The Pet” over at Disney. The family comedy has been in development at the House of Mouse for around five years now and follows “a man who’s abducted by aliens, taken to their planet and turned into a family pet.” Hess takes over the project, which was based on an original idea (ah yes, that rarest of commodities) from Matt Lieberman – the guy who recently signed on to pen the “Short Circuit” reboot.
We’re surprised that Disney are pursuing this project given the clusterfuck that was last year’s “Mars Needs Moms,” but we actually quite like the sound of the project given that it’s a family comedy. As for Hess’ involvement, we’re fairly ambivalent. Sure, he made a great little indie comedy, but it’s not without reason that he found himself left out in the cold in recent years. His first task will likely be his toughest though – finding a leading man who has no problem putting on a collar and in all likelihood humiliating themselves in the name of comedy on the big screen. Who’s got Ken Jeong’s number? [Variety]