There’s always some point during the year where I (and many others) find themselves re-watching late comedian Leslie Nielsen, Elvis’ ex-wife Priscilla Presley and a pre-homicidal O.J. Simpson all bringing the funny in the trilogy of Naked Gun movies released in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The police procedural spoofs began on the small screen with the short-lived Police Squad! TV show in the early ’80s, before being adapted into a series of films that represent the legendary Zucker Brothers (Airplane!) in their filmmaking prime (as in, before their Scary Movie 3 & 4 days).
Well, as is the case with most film properties, Paramount has decided to reboot The Naked Gun for a modern audience – and they’ve tapped none other than The Hangover and The Office star Ed Helms to step into Nielsen’s role as Lieutenant Frank Drebin.
Variety has the exclusive about Helms’ casting in the film. The report also notes that Thomas Lennon and R. Ben Garant will be handling the script; the pair write and star in the cult-hit series Reno 911! and also scripted Night at the Museum and its sequel. If you can’t tell from the show itself – or the exclamation point in its title - Reno 911! carries many shades of the Zuckers’ work on Police Squad!, so having these two fellas make the jump to a Naked Gun reboot is both logical and promising.
No word yet on who will direct the project – though it’s not inconceivable that the Zuckers would come back for another go at the franchise. The brothers’ zany humor has always seemed somewhat misplaced within the once-raunchy world of the Scary Movie films – but their comedic stylings would be right at home in Naked Gun. Personally, though, I would prefer some new blood to step in and handle the franchise; the writing team is already strong, so finding a quality director shouldn’t be too hard for a project with this kind of visibility.
Helms certainly has his work cut out for him; not only will he be stepping into a iconic role once played by a master deadpan performer (a comedy style that seems at odds with the animated earnestness of Helms), he will also be leading a dated franchise into a new era where police procedurals (and their accompanying spoofs) are a dime a dozen.
Will audiences find the same kind of silly fun in a new Naked Gun as we once did back in the day? Will Helms try to imitate Drebin’s snowy-haired look? Will the legacy of Frank Drebin get sullied by this reboot? All questions that need answers.
We’ll keep you updated on the status of Naked Gun as news develops.