Dallas author Ben Fountain had a hit with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, his 2012 debut novel. The book centers on an Iraq war veteran who, as he waits to be honored at the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game in 2004, recalls the horror of war and his role in a firefight that was caught on video that became a media sensation. (For more on Fountain and the book, check out our 2012 profile of the author.)
Satirical literary fiction doesn’t usually translate to “star-studded Hollywood fare,” but Fountain’s novel is making that jump anyway under the direction of two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee (Life Of Pi, Brokeback Mountain). The film’s cast is eclectic, with Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, and Garrett Hedlund teaming with the semi-retired Steve Martin and Chris Tucker, while newcomer Joe Alwyn plays the titular Billy Lynn. The trailer for the film was released last week, and it looks heavy on the “social commentary” side of the book, and a bit lighter on the “scathing satire” aspects of Fountain’s novel.
Of course, that’s just a teaser trailer, intended to bring Billy Lynn’s story to the attention of an audience that has come to expect pained melodrama from their Ang Lee films. It’s unlikely that you call Chris Tucker out of retirement (this is his third movie since 2001) or get Steve Martin to appear in front of the camera (he’s only done voice acting since 2011) if you’re not going to get them to be funny, so here’s hoping that Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, in its cinematic form, is as razor sharp as it is on the page.