There should be a movie about a nostalgic writer who is transported back to 1920s Paris every night at midnight to talk with some of the greatest American artists and writers of the time and it can star anyone except for Owen Wilson.

You might think I’m crazy, but here’s my big pitch. What if there were a film about a successful but disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter, let’s call him Gil Pender for the sake of this article, who vacation to Paris with his fiancée Inez and her wealthy parents? In my head, I can see Gil struggling to finish his debut novel. Of course, Inez writes off his passion for literature rather than support him. To kick off the action, I think it’d make sense for them to meet Inez’s friend, Paul. If a Wikipedia article on this film that I am visualizing in my head were ever written, it would describe Paul as both pedantic and a pseudo-intellectual. 

Naturally, Paul would be a big presence. He’d clash with Gil but Inez would love him. All of that is kind of up in the air, but one thing’s for certain—Gil can be played by anyone except Owen Wilson. The character is versatile and I’m sure a litany of talented actors could bring their own unique style and flavor to the role. The voice of Lightning McQueen, however, must be ruled out from the casting call. He is the only person in the entire world that has no right to play this character.

Back to my big idea: Gil would get drunk one night and find himself roaming the streets of London alone. A vintage car from the roaring twenties would pull up beside him, and soon he’d find himself at a party with Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. They’d guide him through the age, consult on his novel, and introduce him to even more artists of the past century. In this section of the film, the character of Gil will evolve from an eager protagonist to a passenger along for the ride. It’s not a big ask for the titular role, but it’s definitely too much for Owen Wilson specifically to take on. The giggly blonde is hard to take seriously next to his contemporaries; there’s no way he could hold his own in a parlor of some of the western world’s greatest minds. 

Soon, Gil would encounter Pablo Picasso’s lover, Adriana, and the two would hit it off. They’d fall in love and the story would unravel from there. Ultimately, Gil would realize that there is no one definitive golden age. Adriana’s longing for La Belle Époque shows him that we all romanticize the past. Our mundane lives in the present will always leave us wishing for more. Luckily for us viewers, we wouldn’t need to wish for much. All we’d have to wish for is that whichever actor in this world, English speaking or otherwise, is cast in the role of Gil, he/she is not Owen Wilson, the beloved regular co-star of Vince Vaughn and star of 2013’s Free Birds, an American computer-animated science fiction comedy film about two turkeys traveling back in time to prevent their kind ending up on the menu for Thanksgiving. 

Oh, and also this movie about an incredible woman falling in love with a mediocre man probably shouldn’t be directed by Woody Allen.

—W. Cramer