AFF Script Reading

Would you buy a ticket at your local theater (or rent a DVD, or VOD) to watch a movie called 'The Hand Job'? And no, it's not about life as a hand model or some kind of weird mannequin-related caper film. It's a comedy about a young woman who graduates high school and decides she needs to learn about sexual activities before college, including the one in the title.

'The Hand Job' isn't a movie yet. It currently only exists as a screenplay from writer Maggie Carey ('The Jeannie Tate Show'), unattached to any studio or production company. The screenplay made Franklin Leonard's 2009 "Black List" of top-notch unproduced screenplays, and the Austin Film Festival decided to see what all the fuss was about. The fest held a staged script reading on Sunday, with 15 actors and actresses reading the roles and narration. The talent included Jessica Alba, in Austin to shoot 'Spy Kids 4'; original 'Spy Kids' Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara; 'Saturday Night Live' star Bill Hader (who is also Carey's husband); and Colin Hanks, who was at AFF promoting his film High 'School.'

Actress Aubrey Plaza ('Scott Pilgrim vs. the World') is attached to play the lead in 'The Hand Job' if it successfully goes into production, and she read the role at Sunday's script reading. She sounded just right, but we hope the movie gets made soon so she'll be convincing as a 17-year-old. Vega played the Best Friend with a lot of verve and sass; someone should get her attached to the project too. Many of the actors were unafraid to throw themselves into their characters, a few even cleverly miming the sex acts in which their characters were participating in a given scene. (Austin actor Gabriel Luna earned an award for bravery for mimicking a more oral activity than the one in the title.)


Hollywood has given us many coming-of-age comedies with young men experimenting sexually, from 'Porky's' to 'American Pie,' but very few with curious young women. 'The Hand Job,' set in 1993 and based on some of Carey's own teen experiences, manages this feat gracefully and with a lot of humor, ranging from gentle to downright raunchy. Carey said after the reading that producer Jennifer Todd is attached to the script; they are trying to find other actors to attach as well, and then they'll start looking for financing. Having heard the script read live, we hope it won't be too long before we can actually see 'The Hand Job' ... although we suspect the finished movie would have a different title. Should it?

Bill Hader and Colin Hanks