The Good Times Movie Will Be Written by the Creator of Black-ish

By  · Published on April 27th, 2015

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Who better to write a movie based on a classic sitcom about an African-American family than the creator of a new sitcom about an African-American family? Deadline reports that Good Times is heading to the big screen with a script by Kenya Barris, the guy behind the hit new show Black-ish. He also co-created America’s Next Top Model, but that’s of less relevance. Not that Black-ish and Good Times have a lot in common themselves besides the fact that they’re both about African-American households. For Good Times, Barris will be dealing with a whole other era and setting, as the movie will take place in a low-income housing project in Chicago in the 1960s.

Barris seems more appropriate for the racial themes involved in a project like this than its previous screenwriter, Phil Johnston (Wreck-It Ralph). Going by the time period of choice, Good Times isn’t going to be just some wacky sitcom adaptation, the kind that we’d have gotten in the ’90s with a modern-day setting but some retro stylings – J.J. would still have that same bucket hat and dated turtleneck, for instance. This one has more promise to focus on serious issues, as was originally intended with the show before the catchphrase “Dy-no-mite!” became such a cultural phenomenon and took some edge off the material.

Of course, this will still be a comedy, and I’m interested in seeing how Barris (and producer Scott Rudin, who previously made silly movies based on The Addams Family) pulls off the mix of issues and humor that was a staple of Norman Lear’s television productions. Even though Black-ish has done well with audiences and critics over the course of its first season, it didn’t start out great, and it even received complaints and petitions against its alleged racism. Unlike a TV series, the movie of Good Times (a show that had its own ups and downs as far as quality, significance, respectability, etc.) won’t have the chance to evolve or grow on people over time.

I do think it would be interesting to see an All in the Family movie made first, then a Maude movie, then a Good Times movie, as a film franchise honoring the tradition of TV spinoffs.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.