In the world of comedy, more human beings have seen a movie directed by Tom Shadyac than have ever seen a movie directed by Woody Allen. From 1994-2007, Shadyac had a nearly unprecedented run of comedy hits, from "Ace Venture: Pet Detective" to "The Nutty Professor" to "Liar Liar" to "Bruce Almighty." His style was slick, impersonal and to-the-point: He delivered movies on time, under budget and with little-to-no fuss. It made him a millionaire. He now lives in a trailer park.
He's there by choice. After 2007's "Evan Almighty" -- coincidentally his worst received, most over-budget film -- he decided that he wanted no part of the Hollywood life. So he sold his Pasadena mansion and most of his possessions, moved to a trailer park in north Malibu and began work on his documentary "I Am." What's "I Am" about? It's about how human beings are too competitive, about whatever is hard-wired in our brains that makes us want to work against each other rather than cooperate. That's quite a step from "Patch Adams."
What made Shadyac make such a drastic turn? It might have been a concussion he suffered a few years ago -- Shadyac says it isn't, but you know, of course he'd say that, concussion and all -- or it might have just been the emptiness that seeps in when you realize that making massively popular Jim Carrey comedies just doesn't do it for you like it used to. In our favorite detail from the story, he now requires his agent and representatives, before they take a meeting with him, "paddle-board in the ocean with him before anyone can start talking business."
"Look, this is an experiment," he tells the LA Times' Patrick Goldstein. "I still have a lot of money that I don't feel is mine because it came from a competitive system that is helping, in its own way, to destroy the world. So the way I run the economy of my life is to take only what I need to live and funnel the rest to other people." He also says he tries to live more like Gandhi.
"I Am" is coming out "next year," though we think that probably means "never." He still might get back in the big studio directing game, having been attached to "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," which would star Zach Galifianakis. But he might have burned that bridge. He tells Goldstein that he "envisions the film as an environmentally conscious comedy." In case you forgot, "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" is about a talking fish. "I don't think it's going to happen," he says. "The studio may have someone else whose take they like more."
Though we would love to see Gandhi direct a film about a talking fish.