I didn’t react to the news that Michael Eisner was adapting Bazooka Joe into a feature length movie with the same kind of distant revulsion that most did; I was pissed. The reason is simple… Michael Mongillo and I had come up with that idea twelve or thirteen years ago.
It happened, as these things often do, over the course of an evening partaking in illicit substances. We starting riffing on the most absurd adaptation conceivable and immediately came up with the comics of Bazooka Joe, minimalist 2-4 panel abominations included with every pink slab of Bazooka bubble gum. As elements were added to the stew: a healthy dollop of decrepit borscht-belt humor, old school Brooklyn in a location-as-character conceit, the possibility of casting actors like Leo Fitzpatrick, Esteban Powell or Giuseppe Andrews (bear in mind, this was over a decade ago), we started to realize how potentially great this movie could be. Played totally deadpan, it would consist of a flimsy storyline as an excuse to channel along really bad, really juvenile jokes and puns, a sublime accompaniment to weed… er, bubble gum. Shit, I just now realized we invented Adult Swim too.
All said, as awesome as it sounded to us, bitter realization set in that it would be next to impossible to pitch, which naturally didn’t dissuade Mongillo, at one point, from actually attempting to pitch it to a public relations person at Topps. His proposition was met with patronizing but firm bewilderment. So now, a dozen years later, after Eisner ponied up $385 million for the company, he’s making the movie, “as a way to shore up the brand.”
It’s too bad, it could’ve been a masterpiece. Seriously.