It’s been said that Charlie Kaufman’s films defy easy description, but that’s exactly what Kaufman has offered up about his forthcoming Frank Or Francis. In an interview with Time Out London, Kaufman discussed his newest directorial effort (which is, again, not to be confused with his Spike Jonze-directed, Joaquin Phoenix-starring satire about an organization that secretly runs the world), and called it a movie about “online film criticism,” man’s most noble profession. Or you know, not: “As usual, the world that I’m writing about is not necessarily the world that I’m writing about,” Kaufman explained—though in typical Kaufman fashion, he even blanched at using the word “about” as some sort of definitive statement. “It’s just a place to set it,” he continued. “There’s a lot in there about the Internet and anger: cultural, societal and individual anger. And isolation in this particular age we live in. And competition: it’s about the idea of people in this world wanting to be seen.”
And according to The Playlist—which has already read and outlined most of the broader points of the script, so skip the rest of this if you’re trying to avoid spoilers—the character that Kaufman uses as a model for all of the angry, isolated, attention-seeking people in our modern world isn’t actually an online film critic, but rather a “self-important, arrogant” Internet commenter to be played, according to Variety, by Jack Black. Clearly, it's fiction. Black's character's posts on various film criticism websites have made him something of a nemesis to a screenwriter-turned-actor and director played by Steve Carell, who—in one of the film’s two strange parallels to the career of Eddie Murphy—has just been nominated for a record-breaking 29 Oscars for his latest film, in which he stars in every part, everything from small children to African-Americans to the lead role of a homeless man. In the other odd, eerily prescient parallel, Nicolas Cage stars as a faded comedian best known for his fat-suit franchise Fat Dad, and who’s just been picked to host the Oscars. (Hopefully Kaufman’s script doesn’t also have any earthquakes or floods or anything.)
Rounding out the cast is Kevin Kline, who will play a dual role—similar to Cage’s in Adaptation—as both the director of an epic film named Hiroshima that somehow failed to win Best Picture, and his brother, who helps him design a scriptwriting program that analyzes all past awards-winners and automatically generates the greatest screenplay of all time. And in addition to these interlocking storylines, there are various love interests for all of the leads, as well as a subplot about a Romanian waitress and two "talking ghost-thumbs" who have a “Romanian political agenda.” Oh, and also half of the film’s dialogue will be sung, particularly anything that is written on the Internet (though, of course, that’s always been the case here, where every sentence should be read in the sputtering cadence of Dave Mustaine). Anyway, that's definitely a lot of stuff going on, even for a Charlie Kaufman movie.