There are plenty of great books out there, still waiting to be movies or TV series.
Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” seemed to be a long shot. Jared Stern recalled his first reaction:
“I was like, ‘Uh huh – there’s like 50 words in the book. How do we make it into a movie?’” Stern told the Television Critics Association in August.
Or into something bigger. Now it’s a 13-week series (shown here) that reaches Netflix on Friday (Nov. 8).
At the core is Sam-I-Am, whom storybook artist John Anderson describes as “a child at heart.” His perpetual goal is to get Guy-Am=I to try this odd cuisine.
Many people can relate to him. “That man-child – that is me,” said Adam Devine, who voices the role.
The Seuss book, which turns 60 next year, offers a basic theme: Before knocking something, try it. That’s great advice for people pondering vegetables, literature or classical music, less-great for those pondering heroin, skydiving or naked selfies.
Those 50-or-so main words – constantly mixed together in different ways – offer much fun. “Anything involving Dr. Seuss, I was so big on,” Devine said.
Stern talks of learning to read with “Green Eggs”; producer Helen Kalafatic tells of people learning English with it. Still, there was the question of how to turn it into a series.
Soon, Stern focused on the parts in which Guy-Am-I says he wouldn’t eat it on a boat or plane or whatever. This is a road movie, he decided, sort of like Steve Martin’s “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” or Robert De Niro’s “Midnight Run.”
Keegan-Michael Key became the narrator, with Michael Douglas as Guy-Am-I. In support are Ilana Glazer, Tracy Morgan, Eddie Izzard and more, including Diane Keaton as a bean-counter. “She literally counts beans,” Stern said.
This is “a classic odd-couple story,” he said – even if the voice actors were never in the studio together. “I did not meet Michael Douglas,” Devine said in August. “I hope to some day.”
Kalafatic supervised the animation, most of it done in the traditional, hand-drawn style. The project took years, Stern said; then again, the book had been waiting patiently since 1960.