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‘Catfish’ Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman Join ‘The Monkey Wrench Gang’

Written by on May 7, 2012 

After stirring up some controversy during Sundance 2010 regarding the legitimacy of their debut documentary Catfish, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman made the smart financial next step and got linked up with one of Hollywood’s most profitable franchises. Their Paranormal Activity 3 turned out to also be a bit of a critical hit and aside from helming a fourth film set for a release this fall, they’ve found a new project, one that will mark their writing debut.

Deadline reports that the NYC-based duo will write and direct an adaptation of the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. The classic book, published in 1975, will come to screen thanks to American Psycho and Thank you For Smoking producer Edward R. Pressman, along with, for some reason, album cover artist Gary Burden. Check out a synopsis for the film, whose film adaptation has been bandied about for the past 15 years, below via Amazon.

Edward Abbey called The Monkey Wrench Gang a “comic extravaganza,” which it is, although one with a clear, serious message: to protect the American wilderness from the forces of commercial enterprise. The story centers on George Hayduke, an ex-Green Beret and Vietnam vet, who returns to the Southwestern desert after the war to find his beloved canyons and rivers threatened by industrial development. On a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River, Hayduke joins forces with three others who share his indignation and want to do something about it: feminist saboteur and Bronx exile Bonnie Abzug, wilderness guide and outcast Mormon Seldom Seen Smith, and libertarian billboard torcher Doc Sarvis, M.D. Together they venture off to become eco-raiders, waging war on the strip miners, clear-cutters, and the highway, dam, and bridge builders who are turning their natural habitat into a wasteland. The misadventures of this motley group make for an uproarious blend of chaos, conflict, and comedy.

Although Paranormal Activity was technically their narrative debut, I’m excited to see this duo take on a project that will be outside the docu-style aesthetic. While many would argue about the validity of Catfish, especially the last third, the rest of the film did pepper in some comedic moments and I’m curious to see them take on a straight-up “irreverent comedy.” With their Paranormal Activity 4 work cut out for them, don’t expect to see this project come to life anytime soon.

Is this duo a good fit for the material?

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