Airplane! will always be the greatest spoof movie of all time, but it’s hard to deny the charms of Lieutenant Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun and its sequels. So much of what makes those movies work is Leslie Nielsen and his ridiculous talent. So, that means someone wants to come around and try and remake The Naked Gun, but they haven’t figured out exactly how necromancy works, so instead of treating us to a reanimated Leslie Nielsen, we’ll be saddled with a still living Ed Helms.
David Zucker (director of the first two Naked Gun films and part of the illustrious comedy trio Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker), who doesn’t seem to have much of anything to do with the new version, spoke rather frankly to Yahoo! News about his lack of involvement and what he’s been told about the new picture:
“It won’t be like the Naked Gun that I did. It may be good, but it won’t be that kind of movie. They’re going to use the title. They asked me if I wanted to produce. They’re nice people, but they don’t want to do that style of spoof that I do.”
The Naked Gun isn’t going to be a spoof movie? It’s one of the benchmarks of the genre and they are going to completely remove that aspect from this new version? So, is it just going to be a bumbling cop comedy à la The Other Guys? You’d think this decision has to do with the abysmal spoof movies of the last decade that were helmed by Aaron Friedberg and Jason Seltzer, and according to Zucker, you’d be right.
“It becomes watered down. I produced Scary Movie 5, [and] that was so watered-down that [it] contributed to ruining the genre, as did all the Friedberg and Seltzer movies [such as Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans]. [Parody] has come on hard times. They’re not being done well.”
This is the kind of “branded entertainment” thinking that gets us movies like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Battleship. There’s nothing in the film that substantiates the property it’s riffing on. Instead of picking Ed Helms, do what the original Naked Gun and Airplane! film did and cast someone who wasn’t known for being a comedic actor. It was Nielsen’s penchant for playing serious authority figures that made his eventual self-parody that much more surprising and hilarious.
On a wider scale, this just bums me out about spoof movies in general. When they are done right, they are some of the best comedies out there (Young Frankenstein is better than almost half of the actual Frankenstein movies), but it doesn’t seem like we have anyone out there who can bring that magic to the genre. Is it a genre that is dead, or does it need to be extremely renovated in order for it to become good again?