After a move from Universal to MGM, the sort of thing that all too often signifies a stalled development process, the Reese Witherspoon – Sofia Vergara starring action/comedy Don’t Mess With Texas, took a step towards production today with news that The Guilt Trip director Anne Fletcher is in talks to helm the project. According to the Deadline report which broke the story, the originally targeted March start date might not be out of the question, either, with a spring start being targeted to take advantage of Vergara’s time away from Modern Family.
Fletcher came up in the industry as a dancer and choreographer, but has moved into directing features in recent years. Her first directorial project, appropriately, was 2006’s Step Up, followed by female-centric films 27 Dresses and The Proposal as well as the aforementioned Guilt Trip in 2012. The deal isn’t done yet, but the film, which follows Witherspoon and Vergara as a police officer and a convict on the run together in Texas, seems like a fairly natural progression from the The Guilt Trip‘s travelogue comedy while remaining mostly in Fletcher’s comfort zone. That is, by the way, about all that’s being said about the film’s story aside from a persistent comparison to the 1988 Robert De Niro starrer Midnight Run. Comparisons to last year’s The Heat and the classic Thelma & Louise have been thrown out as well, though this seems to be more in reference to the two female leads than any direct plot or character likeness.
Don’t Mess With Texas is being produced by Witherspoon and her Pacific Standard company partner Bruna Papandrea along with Dana Fox (creator of TV’s Ben & Kate). The film was scripted by David Feeney and John Quiantance, both better known for their television work than their feature credits; in fact, this is Feeney’s first feature, although Quaintance has credits on Aquamarine and Material Girls.
To the more cynical among you, the net sum of the off-camera talent may spell a slight caution, but until we see footage to the contrary, we’ll remain optimistic that the combined comic talents of Witherspoon and Vergara will shine when all is said and done.