That revered mainstay of the funny pages, “The Family Circus”, is one of my least favorite things in the world. The wholesome adventures of Bill Keane’s fictional family, loosely modeled after his own, infuriates me like nothing else. Reading it makes me grind my teeth, but I can’t stop. It is like looking at a horrible accident, I can’t look away. I keep opening the paper and reading the insipid tales of Billy, Jeffy, Dolly, and PJ, and their parents. And I don’t want to forget Barfy, the dog.
The strip has been in syndication since 1960, and Keane still produces content with his son Jeff. Though the exasperatingly precious, moral family appeared in three television specials in the late 70s and early 80s, Keane has steadfastly refused all film offers.
This didn’t deter producer John Baldecchi (“Ultraviolet”, “Cutthroat Island”). He kept calling Keane until a deal was done, and now there is going to be a live action film version of “The Family Circus”. Rob Muir and Bob Hilgenberg have been hired to write the script.
Am I alone in thinking that this didn’t need to happen? The only way this could possibly be good is if the filmmakers approach the material like they did with “The Brady Bunch”, poking fun at the overly simplified morality of the source material, and piling on a bunch of double entendres, basically mocking the original. But even then I doubt this will be watchable, and from the sound of it, that isn’t the way they’re going to go. After all, the guys responsible for “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue” are writing the damn thing.
I am curious about one thing. How are they going to turn a single panel comic strip into a full-length motion picture? Anything is possible. If the classic board game “Battleship” can become a $200 million sci-fi action adventure film, “The Family Circus” can certainly become a movie, too. At least it has actual characters.