Stage director George C. Wolfe (Tom Hanks’s Lucky Guy, 1996’s Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk) is about to present us with a film with great potential for specialness. Titled Harry and the Butler and loosely based on a Danish movie from 50 years ago, it has little or nothing to do with Lee Daniels’ The Butler. But — but! THR reports this one will star Samuel L. Jackson as “a derelict roller coaster mechanic and one-time jazz virtuoso who lives in a converted train caboose in New Orleans” and Michael Caine as the “down-on-his-luck British butler” Jackson hires after inheriting a bunch of money and getting sloshed.
Yes. Yes to all these developments. Also, I’m curious how Jackson actually goes about hiring Caine. Is there a butler-oriented Craigslist-type site? Has Caine buttled his way to New Orleans, where he, too, is pickling himself in booze and memories of better days? Will it end with a direct flip of bad, old slavery movies and/or Aladdin, with Jackson’s kind heart leading him to free Caine in the end?
It’s worth noting that this casting comes a few days after Last Vegas and its similarly aged stars cracked the top three at the box office with $16.3 million. Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins were attached to Harry and the Butler at one point, so even if it’s a bomb and a disappointment, you’ll be able to imagine that alternate casting as you watch. Wolfe, in addition to his stage work, has directed Nights in Rodanthe and HBO’s Emmy-nominated Lackawanna Blues.