Hollywood is continuing to plunder the casket of cherished 1980s franchises for movie ideas, following the box office success (and mixed critical response) for 21st Century takes on Transformers, G.I. Joe, and 21 Jump Street. Just last week, in fact, we learned the Masters of the Universe reboot is still chugging along. It’s comes as little surprise, then, that ginger (he prefers burnt sienna) extraterrestrial Gordon Shumway – better known as Alien Life Form or ALF – is being brought out of retirement for a feature-length movie.
Earlier this year, ALF co-creator (and the voice/puppeteer behind the title character) Paul Fusco announced he’s pitching ideas for a film treatment. Sony Pictures Animation has closed a deal for the rights to the ALF franchise, setting Fusco and fellow co-creator Tom Patchett as producers alongside Jordan Kerner. The latter is well-versed in the “art” (or something like that…) of adapting nostalgic TV series into financially successful films, with such titles as George of the Jungle, Inspector Gadget, and The Smurfs under his belt.
The original ALF TV show is a sci-fi sitcom where the titular alien – a creature with a rippled snout, eight stomachs, and a taste for felines, among other eccentricities – crash lands into the garage of the Tanners, a regular family that dwells in the San Fernando Valley suburbs. Much of the series concerns the wacky shenanigans that ensue as the Tanners struggle to keep ALF a secret. Meanwhile, ALF copes with the culture shock of life on Earth in the aftermath of his home planet’s destruction. ALF (the show) ran from 1986-90 on NBC, giving rise to an animated prequel series in 1987, a Marvel comic series that ran for 50 issues, a ’90s TV movie that picked up several years after the original show, and a short-lived talk show/parody called ALF’s Hit Talk Show in 2004.
Fusco previously offered THR the following about his approach to an ALF movie:
“ALF could be more outspoken now than ever, because the world is a whole different place than the ’80s. And I think the character still stands up and certainly has more to say now than ever. I think we would approach it in a fresh way. I don’t think we would duplicate the TV show, but I think we would maybe put it in a storyline where we would explain how ALF got here and put him with a new family and let the character speak for himself.”
Filmmakers such as Michael Bay (Transformers), as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street), have distinct voices that came through loud and clear in their respective updated takes on ’80s properties (for better or worse). The latter, in particular, is widely regarded as an ingenious reinvention of its inspiration for a new generation – one that successfully satirized its own existence as a cash-grab banking on moviegoer nostalgia. ALF arguably lends itself to a similar, self-aware treatment that pokes fun at the title character’s revival and reaction to the current cultural zeitgeist – if the right personnel are hired, that is.
Sony is (surprisingly) taking such a “bold” approach with its 3D Popeye movie, attaching Genndy Tartakovsky – the mind behind Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and the studio’s upcoming Hotel Transylvania – to direct. That’s an encouraging sign, for sure, but not one that guarantees the studio will also hire an outside-the-box storyteller for ALF (as opposed to a “safe” director-for-hire).
We’ll keep you updated on ALF as the story develops.