If there’s anything that modern police procedurals are missing, it’s a star on the force who can go above and beyond the call of duty by quite literally bending the laws of human physiology. It’s really not that much to ask for, is it? That dashing hero of law enforcement was found for a brief while in the short-lived 1980s series Manimal, which introduced us to Dr. Jonathan Chase, a cultured and wealthy individual who used his upbringing in Africa to unlock the many secrets that divide the human and animal worlds.
Those secrets apparently uncover what allows humans and animals to seamlessly transition between species, because Dr. Chase takes advantage of his newfound knowledge by doing just that. As Manimal, he fights crimes by morphing into different animals. If that seems like a farfetched premise with not much reason behind his need to morph — he could probably catch a bank robber just as easily as a human man as he could as a bottle nosed dolphin, right? Then, it comes as no shock that the series was canceled after just eight episodes on air.
But seeing potential for a golden new reboot, envisioning Manimal as an action comedy film with tons of room for critter-morphing sequences and ass kicking on the crime-fighting scene, is Will Ferrell and Adam McKay of Gary Sanchez Productions, who will be teaming up with Jimmy Miller of Mosaic to produce the reimagining of the cult disaster, their modern day cross species hero. They’re plenty aware of what kind of film they’ve signed themselves on to reshape, unless McKay is being 100 percent series when he compares the failed 1983 series to several famously long sought after projects.
“Like The Catcher In The Rye or The Sound And The Fury, Manimal has always been one of those elusive projects every producer dreams of taking to the silver screen,” said McKay to Deadline. “I know the movie will be funny and entertaining, but will it be the first film to win a Pulitzer? We’ll just have to see.”
The new and improved Manimal will be shot as a live action and animation hybrid (not unlike our human animal hybrid protagonist), though it’s unclear at this time which elements of the film will be animated, and which will remain in live action. It would be entertaining to see Dr. Chase’s transformation sequences as cartoons, morphing back into live action when his transition to his chosen animal of the moment is complete.
Manimal will be written by Jay Martel and Ian Roberts, the show runners for Comedy Central’s hilarious Key and Peele, and the writers of Ferrell’s next starrer Get Hard. Turning a too-serious 1980s cult series into a comedy will be easy work with these writers in place. It’s now a matter of nailing down a director, and casting the titular Manimal. Is there any scenario where Ferrell himself wouldn’t be perfect for this role?