Adam Rifkin Hops On Stoner Comedy ‘Toad’ With James Paxton

EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Adam Rifkin is set to direct his next feature, the stoner comedy, Toad, which he co-wrote with Bank of Dave scribe Piers Ashworth. Cameras will roll this autumn in New Mexico.

James Paxton
James Paxton

In the spirit of such pics like Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Toad tells the tale of two naive slackers, Sam (played by James Paxton of Twisters and Rifkin’s western Last Train to Fortune) and Alex (Oliver Wyman of Feeling Randy), who are hired by a frightening cartel boss to deliver a cardboard box from LA to Vegas for the tidy sum of $10k. The boys think it’s their lucky day. Instructed not to look in the box, the duo can’t contain their curiosity and as soon as they drive off the property they pull over and have a peek. Much to their surprise and confusion, the box contains six toads. Unbeknown to them they’re Sonoran Desert Toads aka acid toads, which when licked, gets the most seasoned drug enthusiasts high out of their minds. On the road, the soaring desert temperatures cause the toads to develop heatstroke, triggering Sam and Alex to jump into rescue mode and give them CPR — and a psychedelic odyssey unfolds.

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Rifkin recently completed the western Last Train to Fortune with Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen, Bernadete Peters, Laura Marano and Paxton, who is the son of late Bill Paxton. Rifkin originally conceived the lead cowboy role in Last Train to Fortune for Bill Paxton, a role which James went on to play. Last Train to Fortune follows Cecil Peachtree (McDowell), a schoolteacher, and Dooley (Paxton), an outlaw, as they strike a deal and develop an odd friendship along the road to Fortune after having to deal with gunfights, jailbreaks and saloon gals on the way.

future III Entertainment, the same producing team behind Last Train to Fortune are producing Toad. Brad Wyman and Michael Gerstein producing with Rifkin.

Rifkin tells Deadline, “I’ve always been a huge fan of the stoner comedy genre and I couldn’t be more excited to jump into Toad and, to quote Hunter S. Thompson, ‘Buy the ticket and take the ride’. In preparation for the picture I tried licking a Sonoran Desert Toad myself so I could fully understand the effects of the toxic hallucinogen. Much to my chagrin, it turned out not to be a Sonoran Desert Toad at all, but a North American Mudpuppy, which it turns out isn’t even a toad, but a salamander. It was an honest mistake as it was covered with mud and looked very toad-like from certain angles. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t get me high either, but it did give me a rather nasty rash. I should be better by the time we start shooting.”

Wyman adds, “Rifkin’s script is hysterical. Truly the funniest I’ve ever read. To quote Timothy Leary, ‘Turn on, tune in and drop out with Rif!”.

Rifkin’s feature directing credits include the New Line cult comedy Detroit Rock City and The Dark Backward and he’s written notable pics such as Small Soldiers, Mousehunt and The Chase.

Rifkin is repped by Richard Thompson. Paxton is repped by Authentic Talent and Literary Management, Green Management and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher.

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