Just a few days after the 66th anniversary of The Catcher in the Rye, IFC Films released the official trailer for the unfortunately titled “Rebel in the Rye.” The feature-length movie covers J.D. Salinger’s early writing life and the creation of his most famous character. Starring Nicholas Hoult, who also plays X-Men’s Beast, another nerd who’s blue as hell, “Rebel” was adapted from Kenneth Slawenski’s J.D. Salinger: A Life by Danny Strong. Strong helped create the hit show “Empire,” and penned Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” and is one of those actors you see in a lot of other shows and movies.
Previous film treatments of Salinger have all basically sucked — everything from the 2013 documentary that Slate call “No goddam good,” (the book it was based on sucked too), all the way back to 1950, when Samuel Goldwyn released “My Foolish Heart,” a film adaptation of the short story “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut.” The movie was sappy enough to turn Salinger away from adaptations for the rest of his natural life, even though it did have a nice song in it.
Given this ignominious history, I am deeply skeptical of any and all Salinger projects. But I admit to being seduced by the polish and drama of the “Rebel” preview. Salinger would definitely hate it and Holden would probably never stop puking, and I’m confident that the storytelling tramples over the complicated history of the book in service of orchestra swells and climactic realizations. I also have my doubts that Whit Burnett, one of Salinger’s early teachers and fiction advocates, was a wryly sassy as Kevin Spacey. But at the very least, I like the idea of a novel inspiring Hollywood-level drama, and I’m still interested in seeing what Strong and team have come up with.
One early review calls the movie “watchable.” All will be revealed on September 15, when “Rebel in the Rye” hits theaters.
In the meantime, if you want to know more about the development of Holden Caulfield and Catcher, we’ve got you covered.