Zach Galifiankis lands the long-desired role of a dunce, director Paul Feig goes from bridesmaids to buddy cops, while Natalie Portman heads West for Lynne Ramsey.
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25 May 2012 - 12:00 PM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2012 - 7:30 PM

What with Walter Salles' adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road debuting at the Cannes Film Festival this week, 2012 may turn out to be the year that various supposedly unfilmable books end up on the big screen. Another mythic translation that is suddenly on the go is John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, which was posthumously published in 1980 – 11 years after the author committed suicide – and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. From its earliest notices the novel, about an overweight, 30something slob in 1960s New Orleans named Ignatius J. Reilly who is sent forth by his mother to find employment, has attracted filmmakers and then disappointed them.

Harold Ramis and John Belushi looked at shooting an adaptation 1982, while subsequent actors of a certain size who were tied to the project included John Goodman, John Candy and Philip Seymour Hoffman; at one point John Waters wanted to cast his cross-dressing star Divine in the lead role. Steven Soderbergh worked on an off for years on an adaptation, and it almost got made in 2005 with David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls, Pineapple Express) directing Will Ferrell and Lily Tomlin as the Reilly's.

With the book firmly established as a modern American classic, the movie may finally be on track, with oddball comic Zach Galifiankis (pictured) likely to play Ignatius for director James Bobin, who directed the recent Muppets revival and episodes of Flight of the Conchords before that. This could turn out to be a fine use of Galifianakis, especially since he's already committed to going around a third time as part of The Hangover franchise. Come August Galifianakis is in The Campaign, playing one of two idiotic American political candidates opposite Will Ferrell, before starring in Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner's first feature, You Are Here, with Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler.

Seen enough Hollywood buddy cop movies? It might be worth making room for one more with Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) to direct Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, the breakout star of Bridesmaids, as mismatched partners.

Natalie Portman has been eclectic to say the least in recent years, winning an Academy Award for a psychological horror movie (Black Swan), proving she can make a romantic comedy palatable (No Strings Attached), dating a superhero (Thor), and surviving an unclassifiable disaster (Your Highness). Next year she'll be in one of the 17 films Terrence Malick is making (the romantic triangles and music one – Lawless), and now it appears she'll be starring in a Western. In Jane Got a Gun she'll play the wife of an outlaw whose husband returns home barely alive after being shot repeatedly, forcing her to call on outside help with a posse coming to finish him. The director, which is even more intriguing, is Lynne Ramsey (Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin).

And, finally, from the Bad Ideas Department: Tom Cruise to star in a remake of John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven. If it was Tom Cruise in a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, then that would be a different story.