Secrecy, thy name is Noah Baumbach. Launching in full force with last year's charming “Frances Ha”, the “Squid and the Whale” filmmaker has taken to announcing projects after their completion, shooting films on-the-fly with digital cameras, and generally entering a new and unknown phase of his career. One of his only constants throughout is actress/partner Greta Gerwig, and while we first learned hints this spring of a DreamWorks animation project with both involved, finally there are some concrete details to back it up.
Bleeding Cool reports Baumbach has indeed been working on an animated film for DreamWorks, and that the project is an adaptation of author Berkeley Breathed's “Flawed Dogs” book series, but most prominently of his illustrated novel, “The Shocking Raid on Westminster.” The novel's story follows a show dog dachshund separated from his human owner Heidy by a jealous poodle, who then leads a ragtag group of abandoned dogs to the Westminster Dog Show to reunite with his best friend and title. An adaptation has been brewing over at DreamWorks since 2011, but as usual, it was only recently that Baumbach's name drew anywhere near it.
All that being said, when we spoke to Gerwig this summer, the project still seemed to be in early stages. "It might be musical. It’s being put together right now and these projects take a long time so I don’t know how it will all shake down, but I really love it," she said, adding that her and Baumbach seemed to still be figuring out the story.
"I mean it’s hard because I think both Noah and I have like a high standard for verisimilitude to life and not do anything that is totally ridiculously not life-like, but to try to figure out the realities of a dog living in Brooklyn Heights while also allowing him to go on a warrior-like journey," she continued. "So it’s balancing those two things… The best example of a movie that does that great is 'E.T.' It’s a movie about an alien, but it’s totally about California suburbia and it’s a movie about divorce too, but it’s about an alien. I think that if you can find the balance between that fantasy and put it in something that’s incredibly real and people can identify as real, then you’re Steven Spielberg."
Having co-scripted last year's “Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted” and Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," Baumbach's journey into the animated realm isn't a completely new event, but the real interest lies in how the director's approach will infuse the material once he's at the helm. DreamWorks' packed schedule through 2016 means we still have a while to find out, but in terms of Baumbach's next release, look for his untitled New York-set film starring Gerwig and Lola Kirke to hit sometime in 2014.