Bayou City

Casting the Inevitable Hurricane Harvey Movie

Now, imagine it in IMAX.
Now, imagine it in IMAX. Photo by Justin Nava
Almost exactly a month removed from Harvey, Houston has both bad and good to report. The bad news is, mountains of garbage remain outside gutted homes, flood sediment left behind is contaminated by E. coli and arsenic, and the entire city may be suffering various levels of PTSD. The good news? Houston came together as a community both during and after the storm to help each other. From first responders and volunteers performing rescues, to friends taking up sledges and dremels to tear out drywall, to local celebrities raising money and opening their businesses to the victims, Houston emerged from the disaster smelling pretty good. If you ignore all that raw sewage, that is.

And because Hollywood loves nothing more than looking for the next inspirational story to wring some cash out of, you can be sure a Hurricane Harvey movie (or at least an HBO miniseries) is in the works. Granted, run-of-the-mill hurricane flicks may not be sexy anymore (hence, Geostorm), but come on: 51 inches of rain? That’s practically science-fiction territory already, so while it may be too soon for folks in non-stricken areas to bitch about needing to water their lawns, it’s never too early to cast the Harvey movie.

Or name it. How about “Hounami?” "Space City Superstorm?" "Dude, Where's My Flood Insurance?"

Samuel L. Jackson as Mayor Sylvester Turner
While Jackson is mostly age appropriate to play Turner, I’m mostly doing this for the imaginary profanity-laced argument between Mayor Turner and Governor Abbott when the latter questions why the city’s not being evacuated. And he has some words for you water moccasins, too: “I have had it with these motherf*cking snakes in this motherf*cking rain!”

Christopher Walken as Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale
Of all the public figures on display during Harvey, it was arguably McIngvale who emerged as the biggest hero. Which is why it amuses me greatly to cast one of cinema’s biggest weirdos in the role. Once you’ve heard “Gallery Furniture really will save. You. Money!” in Walken’s particular cadence, you’ll never be able to unhear it.

Mathieu Amalric as Harris Country Judge Ed Emmett
The mercurial Frenchman best known (over here) as 007’s nemesis in Quantum of Solace might seem an odd choice for our dour storm czar, but think of those great brooding long takes as he watches the forecast models roll in, features contracting in alarm as flashbacks of the Rita evacuation flicker behind his eyes.

Andy Garcia as Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo
Garcia has built a nice second career playing middle-aged authority figures, so picture that steely gaze and gravelly voice as Acevedo warns would-be looters, “Don’t come to Houston.”

Chris Hemsworth as J.J. Watt
Fun fact: at 6’3”, the Thor actor is a full two inches shorter than the Texans DE. Honestly, I’m just casting him for the biceps, as his role would mostly consist of announcing his fundraiser on Instagram, hoisting a few relief supplies, and then doing absolutely nothing against the Jags in week 1.

Bruce Willis as Col. Lars Zetterstrom
Zetterstrom, the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, didn’t have a huge public presence during Harvey, but he did deliver one of its more momentous monologues: informing residents near the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs their homes were about to be flooded once the Corps started emergency water releases. Willis can do either do competently heroic or sinisterly stoic, so you can imprint your views of the Corps’ actions on him.

Billy Bob Thornton as Jim Bob Beauregard
A fictionalized amalgam of Cajun Navy personae
The efforts of hundreds of Louisianans who came west with a homegrown fleet to perform rescues during the storm was one of the inspirational stories of the storm, and Thornton would be a good pick to represent them in all their good old boy glory.

Brian Baumgartner as Senator Ted Cruz
You know it to be true. He only has to show up in one scene: rationalizing his plea for federal aid with his opposing the same efforts for Hurricane Sandy relief.

Aaron Eckhart as Governor Greg Abbott
As Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, Eckhart showed he could play unhinged and out of touch with reality, making him the perfect choice for the governor who took a momentary break from trying to eviscerate women’s and children’s rights to bitch at us for not jamming the freeways to leave the city.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar