Twenty-five years later, another funnyman with not-as-beautiful white hair is stepping into Leslie Nielsen’s shoes to reboot the Naked Gun franchise. Ed Helms will become the next Detective Frank Drebin in a new script conjured up from the minds of Thomas Lennon and R. Ben Garant. If you ignore this summer’s atrocious Hell Baby, they’re the highly talented writing duo behind Reno 911! and Night at the Museum.
Garant and Lennon have been tapped to tackle the franchise with a new spin on the detective, which is probably good news considering the enormity of what they have to live up to with this project. Nielsen was Drebin, and to make this a straight redo would be a large misstep; no matter what Helms does with the role, people are going to see the cracks in the character and remember what they loved about the original.
The Naked Gun franchise was a peculiar, particular brand of spoof comedy that many writers have attempted since, but have not succeeded in replicating. The creative trio of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker made something unique – a blend of deadpan delivery, cheap laughs and clever lines that melded together into an absurd, perfect mess. Garant and Lennon are gifted writers, but they have to replicate, or at least pay homage to, a certain type of comedy that is not easy to create.
It’s clear enough why Helms was brought up to play the role. He’s known for playing the straight man in the Hangover series, an uptight, serious wreck who can do deadpan. On The Office, he could do goofy like no other, constantly singing and flinging himself around the room in the attempts to get noticed. But when you think of The Office and qualified serious-slash-goofy men who could handle this role with supreme capability, doesn’t Steve Carell come to your mind first? Granted, his spy/dective work was a complete bomb in Get Smart, but there is always room for second chances.
Meanwhile, the next film that might not need a remake – but it’s getting one anyway, damnit – is Murder on the Orient Express, the star-studded seventies detective drama held aboard a barreling train. The Sydney Lumet film was nominated for six Academy Awards (and earned one for Ingrid Bergman) and featured performances from Bergman, Albert Finney, Jacqueline Bisset, Colin Blakely, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Michael York, but apparently that’s not enough to let sleeping dogs lie; the producing trio of Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon, and Simon Kinberg all want to take a shot at making the magic happen again.
The original film, based on the 1934 Agatha Christie murder mystery, follows the infamous Detective Hercule Poirot on board a train leaving Instanbul, attempting to solve the murder of a fellow passenger. The ensemble film was revered for the performances of the colorful and insane cast of passengers (and suspects) he meets on the journey. An attempt at a remake was technically made in 2001 with a TV movie starring Alfred Molina, but it’s best not to dwell on the past.
The real-life Orient Express was put out of commission in 1977, but it’s noted that a private company has held on to the train’s vintage coaches. So while the train isn’t running anymore, it’s not clear if the film will be a straight remake employing the use of the vintage cars, or a modern twist on the 30s mystery using a more commonplace train system. Murder on the Amtrak doesn’t really have as catchy of a ring to it, though. What if they go full futuristic?
Murder on the Hyperloop?