Last night I finally made it to one of Jason Reitman’s “Live Read” events at LACMA. The series began a few months ago in conjunction with Film Independent and the idea is very simple. Mr. Reitman is taking his favorite scripts and inviting his friends to do live readings in front of an audience at the LACMA Bing theater. The series has taken off like a shot and tickets sell out immediately, both because Mr. Reitman has made clever script choices and because he some very talented and famous friends.
“The Breakfast Club” reading included Jennifer Garner, Patton Oswalt, James Van Der Beek, and Mindy Kaling. “The Apartment” (one of my favorite films, based on the brilliant screenplay by Billy Wilder) was next and the charming leads once played by Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine were read by Steve Carrell and Natalie Portman. The supporting cast included Mindy Kaling again, Ken Jeong, Pierce Brosnan, JK Simmons, Collette Wolfe, Jake Johnson, and Nick Kroll.
You can see why this has become such a hot ticket.
And now on to last night. “The Princess Bride” is such a beloved film and well regarded screenplay (and book, for those of you that haven’t read it, you should run out and buy it right now. It’s even funnier and darker than the film) that the audience behaved like it was at a rock concert and it was seeing a reunion tour of it’s favorite band. It was crazy. I will introduce the cast as it was introduced to us:
Kevin Pollack: Miracle Max
Nick Kroll: Count Rugen
Bill Fagerbaake: Fezzick
Goran Visjnic: Inigo Montoya
Patton Oswalt: Vizzini
Westley: Paul Rudd
Buttercup: Mindy Kaling
And playing the role originated by Fred Savage was . . . FRED SAVAGE! . . . wearing a Chicago Bears jersey. He got a standing ovation. And then surprises continued when Jason Reitman brought in the film’s director, Rob Reiner, and announced he would be reading the part of the grandfather. The place went wild. And then for the final twist: Mr. Reitman brought Cary Elwes, the original Westley, on stage and announced he would be reading the part of Count Humperdink. It was inconceivable!
The cast was terrific. Patton Oswald, Nick Kroll and Cary Elwes in particular were hilarious, but then the villains always have the most fun. Patton Oswald also gave added depth and guffaws to a fencing scene by supplying the sound effects via two spoons.
Hearing the screenplay read aloud was a reminder of what an incredible piece of writing it is, not a line wasted. I think this William Goldman has a future (Although, I do have to say that seeing the entire cast lined up on stage you did see what a male dominated cast it was, and having comedienne Mindy Kaling read Buttercup only emphasized how bland the princess’ lines were. She literally doesn’t have one joke in the whole film.)
The next Live Read is already sold out and Jason Reitman hasn’t even announced what it is yet. But I assure you it will be the place to see and be seen.