The World Doesn’t Need A Family Circus Movie


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.

Author: Brent McKnight

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle with his dogs. He likes beards, movies where things explode, and overcast skies. His three favorite movies are "Rubin and Ed", "A Bittersweet Life", and "Out for Justice". He wishes his knees didn't hurt. On Twitter @BrentMMcKnight
  • Chris

    I pray that Christopher Walken will be cast as Grandpa.

    Otherwise, I’d rather watch a feature-length adaptation of Mary Worth.

    • Brent

      What about “Cathy”? I’m surprised they haven’t mined that for a sitcom.

  • Chris

    I pray that Christopher Walken will be cast as Grandpa.

    Otherwise, I’d rather watch a feature-length adaptation of Mary Worth.

  • Cokezero

    I’m no prude, but what is wrong with a simple old fashioned family tale? Yeah, modern tastes have changed and 9 yr old American girls are hiting puberty and my own kid has fought wars on all the levels of Halo, but maybe we need a wholesome Family Circus instead of whoresome Snooki’s labia blurred out on Jersey Shore. (really, I’m sure she’s a nice girl).

  • seer reem

    That’s right: the most widely syndicated cartoon panel in the world is about to make its live-action large screen debut. Moreover, it’s being envisioned as a franchise. 20th Century Fox and Walden Media got the rights to Bil Keane’s comic.

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