Richard Linklater Will Remake ‘Incredible Mr. Limpet’

Richard Linklater, currently nominated for an Oscar for Before Midnight’s screenplay, is making strides on the Warner Bros. remake of Incredible Mr. Limpet, a project with which he has been involved since 2011.

Linklater plans to work on Limpet with Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting, according to a recent report in Screen Daily. Pallotta and Wolting will design the look of the film and figure out how to integrate the animation and live-action components. Pallotta has been a friend of Linklater’s since the days of Slacker and was a producer on Linklater’s two animated efforts—Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Wolting is a veteran producer and director of documentaries as well as the co-founder of Dutch film production company Submarine.

Pallotta and Wolting together directed a just-finished film about Somali pirates, Last Hijack, which also integrates animation with live-action, and that film’s look has inspired Linklater’s ideas about Limpet. Wolting has been quoted as saying that, “Richard [Linklater] loved the animation technique that we used [on Lost Hijack].”

The original 1964 version of Limpet, starring Don Knotts, succeeded visually because the technological limitations of the era situated the concept purely in the realm of animated fantasy. Today, with CGI’s limitless possibilities, there are better-than-average odds that Limpet ends up looking like a grotesque refugee of the waters surrounding Three Mile Island. The character’s lack of visual appeal derailed Warner Bros. when they tried to remake the film nearly twenty years ago. The unmade late-1990s version, which was to have been directed by Steve Oedekerk, would have starred Jim Carrey in the role of Henry Limpet. Millions of dollars were spent trying to digitally paste Jim Carrey’s motion-captured human face onto a fish’s body, and the results were, by all accounts, disgusting. Brad Bird, one of the unlucky viewers who witnessed the CG tests, reportedly said that, “If you saw this in the water, you would get out of the water and run screaming and tell everyone the world was ending.”

When that version was canned, WB tried to relaunch the project with Beavis and Butt-head creator Mike Judge; the shortlist for the lead role at the time included Chris Rock, Mike Myers and Adam Sandler More recently, Kevin Lima (Tarzan, Enchanted) unsuccessfully attempted to jumpstart a remake with Zach Galifinakis.

Of all the various attempts to revive Limpet, the (still-not-greenlit) Linklater one sounds the most promising. A good director will surely recognize that Limpet not only has an abundance of perverse themes, but plenty of quirky visual possibilities that lend themselves to animated treatment. Given his track record, Linklater could be the guy to pull it off.

Images from top to bottom: Lobby card for The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964); concept art by Bob Camp for the unproduced Jim Carrey version of Limpet; the cover of Theodore Pratt’s book Mr. Limpet (1942), which was a literary flop and sold just 3,500 copies upon first publication.


  • Roberto Severino

    Corporate incompetence at its best. I can only hope that the Linklater remake will actually be decent compared to the monstrosities you’ve featured here. I love those Bob Camp drawings by the way. What a genius!

  • Smells fishy

    So we can expect a bunch of rotoscoped fish with traced heads put on them? No thanks.

  • Joseph Patrick

    I’ll be honest, I’m intrigued!

  • jonhanson

    Wow, a lot of people have tried to remake this movie that really doesn’t need to be remade.

    Though I have to say I am intrigued by the fact that Linklater is attached. He’s one of the more interesting and diverse filmmakers of our age. And I have to say the whole story is worth it just to hear about “Last Hijack,” which looks fascinating.

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    I never knew this film had such a large following!

  • Tony

    That Jim Carrey design reminded me of the trouble with today’s live-action cartoon remakes. The CG characters are always too realistic, too detailed, completely losing the original’s charm, which came from having no detail. The designers of the original Limpet did a wonderful job of combining Don Knotts’s face with a believable fish body and making it look organic and appealing. Hard to believe Bob Camp couldn’t do the same.

    • jonhanson

      I take it as Mr. Camp playing up the absurdity of putting Jim Carrey’s face on a fish, but otherwise I agree.

    • R. I.

      Bill Tytla (assisted by Bob McKimson) did the animated sequences in the original.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I don’t know which I find more surprising, the fact that for some strange reason, so many people want to remake a movie that doesn’t need to be remade, nor seems like a movie that should be remade, or that it was based off a book.

    Also, thank you for that nightmare fuel with that Jim Carrey fish.

  • Strong Enough

    this is probably the last time we’ll hear about this.

  • Hankenshift

    They should make the fish portion live action, and animate (cg) Don Knotts as a Somali pirate. With one bullet.

    I’ve got a copy of the jim carrey cg test somewhere. It is as ugly, unappealing, unfunny, and disastrous as everyone has said.

  • Mister Twister

    ENOUGH WITH THE REMAKES ALREADY!

  • Jackson

    Not since Michael Jackson repeatedly tried to jumpstart a remake of George Pal’s “7 Faces of Dr. Lao” (with himself in the Tony Randall role) has a film so not needed to be re-imagined. Improvement is off the table; how much this new animal will differ from the original remains the sole morbid curiosity.

  • Jam Cory

    They should totally finish that Jim Carrey film now. After that they should make a remake of the shaggy dog where they add Jim’s face onto a dog. Then remake Cars with his likeliness in all cars. I’d totally see those films

  • Chris Goldberg

    I have the same reaction to Jim Carrey’s live action performances. The fish might have been an improvement. And I will join the NO MORE REMAKES chorus.