Variety is reporting the news that a reboot of The Naked Gun is in the works at Paramount with Ed Helms in the lead.
The studio has tapped the scripting team of Thomas Lennon and R. Ben Garant — best known for the “Night at the Museum” and “Reno 911″ franchises, to write the screenplay as a new spin on the Drebin character.
Oof. Listen, I enjoyed Helms on his first few seasons The Office, but I don’t see how he’s even remotely the right fit for Frank Drebin. The beauty of casting Leslie Nielsen in Airplane! and Police Squad! was his classical training as an actor. If you stripmined those properties of their jokes, you’d still have Nielsen giving a rock solid performance that, until later in his career, never winked at the audience.
What you need for the role is someone who would’ve been cast in the straight version of a police procedural today. David Carruso would actually be inspired casting if he understood the rules of the game. And that’s the other thing: procedural cop shows are wildly different now. Police Squad! had the benefit of coming out a year after the game changing Hill Street Blues, so its focus was on a different era of television entirely. The new Naked Gun would be better served deconstructing the current crop of forensic-obsessed shows, but we already have NTSF: SD: SUV and Eagleheart doing that. So what do you do?
Again, I like Helms, but his casting points to a fundamental misunderstanding of what made the original series fun (and it was, and I was three). Spoof movies can work, they just need the right hook. So far, this isn’t it.