I’ve written before about my fondness for “Jonny Quest,” both the classic animated series and the revival script by Dan Mazeau that has been stirring much interest in Hollywood.
Now it looks like the rumors are true and that the plum role is going to Zac Efron, the 21-year-old pretty-boy star who is hoping the action role will help him dance away from youth-pop vehicles and whip up a career-redefining franchise in the Indiana Jones mode. (Dwayne Johnson is circling the project as well and would be the brawny version of pilot and man-of-action Race Bannon.)
The choice of Efron is going to stir up fans of the classic Quest series because, well, Jonny was just an 11-year-old in the prime-time cartoons of the 1960s that so deftly pulled on Milton Canniff, Ian Fleming and Rudyard Kipling for their spirit of exotic adventure. I myself think it’s a surprising but interesting choice, and I’m one of the people in town who think Efron (like Justin Timberlake) has a big future ahead of him and that people will look back on his frothy Disney duty as just the early steps in the choreography of his career. Making Jonny older will change the property, to be sure, but maybe it will make it richer as well.
I’m more dismayed by news that folks at Warner Bros. are thinking of jettisoning the name Johnny Quest altogether. Why? I hear the thinking is that the vintage animation roots of “Quest” will somehow pair it in the public mind with “Speed Racer,” which was a major Warners pile-up as blockbuster films go, considering the investment, expectations and critical reception. I’m not surprised because, well, unnuanced thinking in Hollywood is commonplace, and instead of spending the time needed to judge individual properties by their own merits, lots of decision-makers act like my grandmother at the racetrack. “A horse wearing an even number won each of the last two races, so they must be faster…”
I remember the people who predicted “Batman Begins” and the new Batman franchise would be DOA because, clearly, the American public was done with the caped crusader after Joel Schumacher’s odious tips to Gotham City. How’s that going?
Movies make it because of their scripts and their directors and, believe me, the only people who really give any further thought to “Speed Racer” all work on the studio lot in Burbank. I (and a lot of people like me) hope Quest makes it to the big screen with Mazeau’s script, but it’d be a shame if it did so without that prestigious brand name and the legacy of sophisticated adventure that goes with it. Check out this nice montage of the old magic…
– Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED
Zac Efron photo: WireImage
Indiana Jones image courtesy of Lucasfilm and Paramount.