In the grand tradition of movie-making teams like Jim Abrahams and David Zucker, Keenen Ivory Wayans and his entire family, and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (okay, maybe not those last two), comes a new duo of creative types hoping to make a mint and produce laughter by spoofing the works of others, Sacha Baron Cohen and Phil Johnston. THR reports that the duo has just sold a pitch to Paramount that will see them making a spy comedy in the vein of a silly James Bond. Think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character, but less…something, and more…I don’t know. Okay, so just think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character. According to sources at the studio, this still untitled comedy will tell the story of a spy who “is forced to go on the run with his long-lost brother, a moronic soccer hooligan.”
Six years ago Cohen was coming off of his hit series Da Ali G Show and its subversive and successful feature film spin-off Borat, and he seemed like he was pretty much the most vital and progressive comedian working in films. But since then his career has taken a huge downswing because of disappointments like Brüno and his recent mess of a movie The Dictator. I guess the big question here is, given Cohen’s sudden downturn in quality output, is there any reason why we should be excited for him doing a spoof of spy movies?
The answer is yes, and the reason would be his partnering with Johnston. Though not yet a household name, Johnston was the writer of 2011’s exceptional and under-seen Ed Helms vehicle Cedar Rapids, and he’s recently done work on Disney’s charming-looking Wreck It Ralph, as well as served as the co-writer for Alexander Payne’s next project Nebraska. Though that’s not the heftiest résumé on the planet, proving that you have it in you to write one great comedy and co-writing a script that catches the eye of a director who has a flawless record like Payne should be enough to get film fans to give you the benefit of the doubt until you screw something up. Perhaps working with Johnston will be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to getting Cohen back on track and helping him live up to the potential that he showed earlier in his career.
It’s not yet known if Cohen is going to end up acting in this film, which is generally the case when he finds himself writing a project. Apparently that will come down to when the film is scheduled to shoot and if it fits into his availability at the time. First thing being first, now it’s time to get the script completed.