"Dilbert: The Movie"

A fancast based on the long-running comic strip by Scott Adams.

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In 1989, cartoonist Scott Adams debuted a newspaper strip that made office humor truly funny before there was "The Office". It centered around "a white-collar, micromanaged office featuring the engineer Dilbert as the title character".

While both funny and sometimes controversial, nonetheless the strip became very successful, spawning an animated TV show, a video game (how many comic strips can lay claim to THAT?), tons of merchandise, and even a principle (based on the Peter Principle).

I recently watched the entire show this month, and I have to say that I do find it a lot funnier than a lot of today's office-coms. All of a sudden, I started thinking of how it would work on the big screen, so today I bring you CBM'ers:

Plot: For the plot of the movie, I would use the overarching story arc from the first season of the TV show, where Dilbert and co. set out to create a new flagship product for the company, the "Gruntmaster 6000".

Unlike most products, instead of designing it, the Pointy-Haired Boss suggests that Dilbert and his fellow engineers come up with a name first ("The Name"). A competition arises when they find themselves up against a rival team led by the notorious Lena ("The Prototype"), who threatens to steal their ideas and pass them off to the PHB as her own. After managing to beat her to the punch, the prototype is then tested by the malevolent test engineer known as Bob Bastard, whom Alice becomes smitten with ("Testing"). Once that's done and over with, Dilbert, Dogbert, Alice, Wally, and PHB take a business trip to the (fictional) developing country of Elbonia, where a factory set up to manufacture the Gruntmaster 6000 is located ("Elbonia Trip"). Later, while taking a break from the project, Dilbert finds himself reunited with the father he long thought left him amid the institution of a new National Dogbert Day (after Dogbert convinces Congress to abandon all other holidays) ("Holiday"). Resuming work on the project, the pre-production (and untested) Gruntmaster 6000 is sent for a test run (against Dilbert's wishes) to a family in a rural part of Texas ("The Infomercial"), where their misuse of it accidentally open a black hole--one that threatens to suck the entire world into it! Only Dilbert, with help from Dogbert, the World's Smartest Garbageman, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Neil Degrasse Tyson can stop it--until Dilbert is sucked into it, whereupon "he instantly wakes up in the meeting [seen at the start of the episode], then locks his design lab to keep the prototype from being shipped out."

In terms of directing, with a movie that has a lot of absurdities packed into essentially your basic office-comedy, I would go with...

Edgar Wright, whose direction of the zany and action-packed adaptation of Scott Pilgrim inspired the pick.

In terms of composing the score, which should be a good combination of whimsical, goofy, and dull (on purpose), I leave that to....

Danny Elfman, who in sheer coincidence (or was it?), did the theme song to the Dilbert cartoon series (titled "The Dilbert Zone").

In terms of the screenplay, that looks like a job for....

Scott Adams himself and Adam Reed, whose comedic chops are guaranteed thanks in part to shows such as Archer and many of the shows that populate Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for--THE CAST:

Dilbert: "The main character in the strip, Dilbert is a stereotypical technically minded single male. He is usually pictured wearing a white dress shirt, black trousers and a red-and-black striped tie which inexplicably curves upward. In old Dilbert strips, his neck was long shaped. Over time, his neck has become smaller. Dilbert received his Masters degree in electrical engineering from MIT; he understands engineering well and has good ideas, but has a poor social life. Neither attractive nor blessed with tremendous social graces, Dilbert is capable but ignored at work and struggles with his romantic life. While he is frequently seen having dates with eligible women, his dates almost invariably end in disaster, usually in surreal and bizarre ways. Dilbert loves computers and technology and will spend much of his free time playing with such things. He had a girlfriend named Liz for a little over two years, but she started dating other men, stating that she will still date Dilbert, but date other men at the same time."

Why Johnny Galecki? He definitely was my #1 choice for playing the lead. He's got the comic timing for the part, and he's got the experience playing a brainiac thanks to TBBT (although he'd be playing an engineer (with "the knack") instead of a physicist).

Wally: "One of the oldest engineers, Wally was originally a worker trying to get fired to get a severance package. He hates work and avoids it whenever he can. He often carries a cup of coffee, calmly sipping from it even in the midst of chaos or office-shaking revelations. Wally is extremely cynical. He is even more socially inept than Dilbert (though far less self-aware of the fact), and references to his lack of personal hygiene are not uncommon. Like the Pointy-Haired Boss, Wally is utterly lacking in ethics and will take advantage of any situation to maximize his personal gain while doing the least possible amount of honest work. Squat and balding, Wally is almost invariably portrayed wearing a short sleeved dress shirt and tie. Adams has stated that Wally was based on a Pacific Bell coworker of his who was interested in a generous employee buy-out program—for the company's worst employees. This had the effect of causing this man -- whom Adams describes as "one of the more brilliant people I've met" -- to work hard at being incompetent, rude, and generally poor at his job to qualify for the buy-out program. Adams has said that this inspired the basic laziness and amorality of Wally's character. Despite these personality traits Wally is accepted as part of Dilbert, Ted, Alice, and Asok's clique. Although his relationship with Alice is often antagonistic and Dilbert occasionally denies being his friend, their actions show at least a certain acceptance of him."

Why Rainn Wilson? If his experience playing Dwight Schrute on The Office (the U.S. version) isn't good enough for you, I don't know what is. All I know is that he'd be more than capable of playing the exact opposite of Dwight, complete with Wally's 'slackadaisical' attitude. Just add a balding cap.

Alice: "One of the more competent engineers. Alice has a huge, triangular hairstyle. She is often frustrated at her work, because she does not get proper recognition, which she believes is because she is female. She also has a quick, often violent temper, sometimes putting her "Fist of Death" to use, even with the Pointy Haired Boss. Alice originally depicted a series of characters, like Ted, and she appeared for a time as the current Alice with a somewhat more normal hair style. Later she developed her signature triangular hair, similar to the boss. Alice is based on a woman that Scott Adams worked with named Anita, who is described as sharing Alice's "pink suit, fluffy hair, technical proficiency, coffee obsession, and take-no-crap attitude."

Why Rachel Nichols? I just thought it would be a nice change of pace for someone who's used to doing more action-based and dramatic film and TV, and with Alice I picture her being a real scene-stealer (such as one scene lifted from the cartoon, where Alice punches a hole in the meeting room table so she can yank Wally by the tie and whack him on the table itself). While I know no doubt that it would be impossible to duplicate that famous hairdo, at least they could keep the pink suit.

Ashok: "A young intern. He works very hard but does not always get proper recognition. Asok is intensely intelligent but naive about corporate life; the shattering of his optimistic illusions are frequent comic fodder. Asok is Indian, and has graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The others, especially the Boss, often unwittingly trample on his cultural beliefs. At times when Asok mentions this, he is normally ignored. Asok's test scores (a perfect 1600 on the old SAT) and the fact his IQ is 240, show that he is the smartest member of the engineering team. He is often called upon by the Boss to do odd jobs and his ideas are usually left hanging in the meetings. He is also seen making realizations of his corporate life regularly at the Lunch table with Wally and Dilbert. There are a few jokes about him having psychic powers which he learned at the IIT. Yet despite his intelligence, ethics and mystical powers, Asok sometimes takes advice from Wally in the arts of laziness, and Dilbert in surviving the office."

Why Dev Patel? Like Nichols, it'd be a good change of pace for a guy who's been in mostly dramatic productions (Slumdog Millionaire and The Newsroom come to mind). I'd also like to think he'd jump at the chance to lampoon outsourcing (since that particular show is no longer with us).

Loud Howard: "Another coworker who became a regular character in the TV series, despite appearing in just a few comic strips on 21 April 1995 and 17 March 2006, and again by popular request on 11 October 2006. Loud Howard is incapable of speaking quietly, and in the TV series his overpowering voice often breaks anything and everything around him, including people's eardrums. It has also shattered glass, slammed people against the wall and even worse, killed people. In the strips, his loud voice is represented by huge lettering and his comically huge mouth (when talking), which takes up most of the available panel space and is therefore difficult to sustain as a running joke. Howard as a recurring character is better-suited to the animated series, where his voice actor, Jim Wise, can speak as loudly as necessary. Loud Howard made a reappearance on May 24, 2012, where he meets Topper and they both have a shouting match right outside Dilbert's cubicle."

Why Larry Joe Campbell? He's got the comic timing, as evidenced by his long run as Jim Belushi's bosom buddy on According to Jim, and his being a former member of the Detroit division of Second City. Playing Loud Howard might give him laryngitis, but I like to think that to him, it might be worth it.

Pointy-Haired Boss: "The oblivious manager of Dilbert and the other engineers, and sometimes the main antagonist of the strip; his real name is never mentioned. Scott Adams states that he never named him so that people can imagine him to be their boss. In earlier strips the Boss was depicted as a stereotypical late-middle-aged balding middle manager with jowls; it was not until later that he developed his signature "pointy hair" and the jowls disappeared. He is hopelessly incompetent at management, and often tries to compensate for his lack of skills with countless group therapy sessions and business strategies which usually never bear fruit. He does not understand technical issues but always tries to disguise this, usually by using buzzwords he also does not understand. The Boss treats his employees alternately with enthusiasm or neglect; he often uses them to his own ends regardless of the consequences to them. Adams himself wrote that "He's not sadistic, just uncaring." The Boss's level of intelligence varies from near-vegetative to perceptive and clever, depending on the strip's comic needs. His utter lack of consistent business ethics, however, is perfectly consistent. His brother is a demon named "Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light", and according to Adams, the pointy hair is intended to remind one of devil's horns."

Why Wayne Knight? Of course his comedic background is evidence enough, but fittingly, he guest-starred in an episode of the Dilbert cartoon's second season. He played a security guard at the company who made a bet with Dilbert that he could do his job better than Dilbert could do his. Now while I did say that it wouldn't be wise to try and duplicate Alice's hairdo for the movie, that of the Pointy-Haired Boss's should be too much trouble. Now just picture Knight with it....I also think he could live up to the previous portrayal by Larry Miller:

Dogbert: "Dilbert's anthropomorphic pet dog (if such a subordinate appellation can be applied to him), is the smartest dog on earth. Dogbert is a megalomaniac intellectual dog, planning to one day conquer the world. He once succeeded, but became bored of the ensuing peace, and quit. Often seen in high-ranking consultant or technical support jobs, he constantly abuses his power and fools the management of Dilbert's company, though considering the intelligence of the company's management in general and Dilbert's boss in particular, this is not very hard to do. Dogbert also enjoys pulling scams on unsuspecting, and usually dull customers to steal their money. However, despite Dogbert's cynical exterior, he has been known to pull his master out of some tight jams. Dogbert's nature as a pet was more emphasized during the earlier years of the strip; as the strip progressed, references to his acting like a dog became less common, although he still wags his tail when he perpetrates his scams. When an older Dilbert arrives while time-traveling from the future, he refers to Dogbert as "majesty", indicating that Dogbert will one day indeed rule the world...again, and make worshiping him retroactive so he could boss around time travelers."

Why Robert Downey Jr.? While playing Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes, he displayed a great amount of wit, ego, and sarcasm, all befitting Dogbert. I was also inspired by HailToTheKingBaby's casting of RDJ as Brian Griffin in a Family Guy fancast. I feel he could follow in Chris Elliot's lead easily:

Dilmom: "Dilbert's Mother is a homely and intelligent woman. She used to think Dilbert worked at a railroad because he is an engineer. She's often selfish and openly uncaring towards her son; in the TV series she states that, although she loved him, she did not actually like him. She has nearly the same level of technical knowledge as Dilbert, although she has him do technical work for her. She is obsessed with Scrabble and has been accused of cheating with "counterfeit vowels". (This is a reference to Scott Adams' own mother.)"

Why Teri Garr? In addition to really being a scene stealer in Young Frankenstein, she's definitely got a lot of comedy on her resume. In no particular order: Mr. Mom, Tootsie, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, The Bob Newhart Show, M*A*S*H, The Odd Couple, Maude, and three times the host of Saturday Night Live.

Dadbert: "An unseen character in the comic strip, although he does appear in the animated series [voiced by Buck Henry], in which his face is hidden in a fashion similar to "Mammy Two Shoes" from "Tom and Jerry" or Wilson from "Home Improvement". He left Dilbert's mother during a trip to the mall in 1992 (1979 in the TV series), and lives at the 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant in the mall because he has not eaten all he can eat."

Why Daniel Stern? For obvious reasons, he is the original voice of Dilbert, so I thought it oh-so-fitting for him to play Dadbert. For less-than-obvious reasons, he's got a good amount of comedy on his own acting resume too: the Barry Levinson movie Diner (great movie, by the way), City Slickers, and the first two Home Alone movies.

Ratbert: "A rat formerly used as a laboratory test animal. A cheerful character and something of a nitwit though he does make the occasional brilliant observation. He usually gets all the lowest jobs but has been seen as a consultant before. He has made the pointy-haired boss fall under his consultant spell. Ratbert is originally disliked by Dilbert for being a rat, but is later accepted as a member of the family. He was not originally intended as a regular character, but because of his popularity with readers he was kept."

Why John Leguizamo? He showed a lot of good comic timing while voicing Sid in the original Ice Age movie, so I felt that he'd be decent as a supporting character like Ratbert. I also felt he could live up to the mark on the character Tom Kenny made in the old show.

The World's Smartest Garbageman: "Dilbert's garbageman is frequently described in the comic as "the world's smartest garbageman". He occasionally solves extremely complex problems for Dilbert and in various strips has developed several futuristic inventions. In the TV show, it is revealed that he is the only garbageman for the whole city and is able to collect for all houses through "shortcuts"."

Why Laurence Fishburne? I felt that with this character, it would be a great way to parody his performance as Morpheus in The Matrix. I'm sure original VA Maurice LaMarche would be proud. Just think of all the good bits Fishburne would have:

Catbert: "The company's evil feline Human Resources director. Although he was originally just supposed to be around for a few strips, the fans named him and demanded more of him. He derives pleasure from seeing employees worry about their jobs, and particularly enjoys tormenting Wally. Merely mentioning the term "layoffs" causes him to purr with delight. Unlike Dogbert, Catbert has no apparent owner, but retains all of the qualities of a cat, and frequently purrs or sheds or performs other acts of "catness", which he uses to torture the employees. He is particularly cooperative and friendly with the Pointy-Haired Boss."

Why Ricky Gervais? He's got the great comic timing for the role, AND his experience playing the boss on the original, British version of The Office would supplement that. I feel he could follow Jason Alexander's lead perfectly to play a character who's become my favorite villain ever:

My alternative choices were: Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Gary Cole (as a nod to his role of Bill Lumberg in "Office Space"), Bill Murray, and Alan Alda.

Lena: A character created for the show, she's the militant, commanding leader of another team of engineers dead-set on being the first to come up with a prototype of the Gruntmaster 6000. She has a bit of a rivalry with Alice, and appears to know Dogbert. Her cubicle leads down into a dungeon-like area where she keeps the still-living heads of engineers she outdid in jars.

Gina Carano: While I have seen a lot of debate over her acting potential, I think she'd also be a scene-stealer playing what could be described as a parody of Brigitte Nielsen's character in Rocky IV, only Swedish. I think it would be funny to see her play someone so militant, yet willing to seduce Dilbert to get what she wants.

Bob Bastard: Originally named Robert Born-Out-Of-Wedlock (his parents changed his last name to--well, you know...), he was formerly a courteous and affable test engineer, but had no luck with the ladies. Worse yet, after trying to ask a fellow employee named Karen out, she laughs at him and tells her friends. The shock of this causes him to fall into a vat of disfiguring fluid (yes, that's what it says on the vat). Donning a luchador mask and gloves, plus a collared cape (over a snazzy suit), Bob found that it felt good to shatter people's hopes and dreams. His new mildly sadistic attitude and bad boy image gave him a charm that allowed him to win people over.

Why Ryan Reynolds? I feel he's doing too many action movies these days, and ought to try and get back to his comedic roots. This spoof of Jack Nicholson's Joker might just be the ticket. I'd also like to see if he can portray the same level of zany that Gary Busey seems to exhibit in real life.

Accounting Troll: "Sadistic trolls from the accounting department whose bodies are 95% saliva. As Dogbert shows, their brains are so hard-wired that seeing someone wearing a baseball cap backwards causes their heads to explode, which he referred to as a "paradigm shifting without a clutch." The trolls' accounting offices resemble a cavernous Hell. They were originally ruled by a witch who turned Dilbert into an accounting troll but was destroyed when Dilbert, assigned to budget erasing, erased the accounting department's budget. The trolls are rarely given names, however occasionally a troll by the name Nordlaw is referenced. The first troll met in the comics was named Bradley. Their original name was Erv."

Why Gilbert Gottfried? Well, he did play a troll originally in the second season episode "The Hunger", and I just felt he was distinctive enough to return to the role. In a scene lifted from that episode, grafted into the section of the movie based on "Elbonia Trip", Dilbert visits accounting to get a travel budget approved for the trip to visit the Elbonia factory:
Dilbert--Uh, who do I see about increasing my travel budget?
Dilbert--I think I'm someone travelling to Elbonia on business.
Troll--Do you have any proof?
Dilbert--Proof? Since when do we need proof to do our jobs?
Troll--Do you think we just give out money to anyone who asks for it? Do I look like SANTA CLAUS to you?
Dilbert--No, you look more like some sort of hideous creature.
Troll--Thank you, 'cause that's the look I've been going for.
Dilbert--Look, what if I go on the trip, and submit carefully-documented receipts upon my return?
Troll--And what if you never return?
Dilbert--Then I'll leave explicit instructions to the executor of my will to submit those receipts.
Troll--....Very well. (Goes into his drawer and brings out a form.) Sign here. (Dilbert does so.) I approve your using your personal airline miles to pay for this trip.
Troll--You really should read the fine print. (Dilbert, annoyed, walks away.) *Sigh* It's nice having visitors...

Elbonia: "People from a fictional Fourth World nation, used as a parody of outsourcing. Their culture is radically different from Western culture, and their patriarchy often annoys Alice. Their country is covered in waist-deep mud which they keep wet using expensive bottled water as revealed in one strip. The main vehicle of their national airline is essentially a giant slingshot. At one point, the French declared war on Elbonia because they tried to launch a satellite with the town slingshot, thereby flattening the French Embassy before Dilbert can intercede. At another time Dogbert lobbied Switzerland to "liberate" Elbonia's oil. Dogbert once became the king of Elbonia, but Dilbert convinced him to resign. Elbonia was first described as an Eastern European nation. Elbonia's traditional hats, long beards, male-centric culture and technological backwardness suggest it is modeled after a Third World Islamic society, such as Afghanistan; it is also similar to Post-Soviet States in its headwear and former communism. Scott Adams stated in Seven Years of Highly Defective People that Elbonia was created to allow for a foreign nation inoffensive to people outside the United States, and is based on the average American's perception of any country without cable TV."

Why Seth MacFarlane? This guy does more voices than you can count on each of his three shows, and for once I would like to see him do something where the only involvement he has is in just acting. I think a role like this would be better than the way Sacha Baron Cohen did in "The Dictator".

-Elizabeth Moss as Carol, Pointy-Haired Boss's bitter secretary
-Anna Kendrick as Tina the technical writer
-Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Edward Norton as the marketing guys:

That's all, folks! And now, ladies and gentlemen--TOM LEHRER:
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