Plus Helmer Talks Upcoming Jon Hamm/Melissa McCarthy Comedy
Almost everyone involved in “Bridesmaids” has gotten a major boost from its huge success (although, note we said almost everyone: more on this later on), and none more deservingly though than its director, Paul Feig. Since co-creating classic one-season wonder “Freaks and Geeks” with Judd Apatow over a decade ago, Feig has worked consistently on some of the best TV shows around, including “The Office,” “Arrested Development” and even “Mad Men,” but big-screen success had so far eluded him, with features “I Am David” and “Grounded” landing with a thud.
But the success of “Bridesmaids” has made him a hot property again, with reports coming in last night that he’d be working with two of the stars of that ensemble, Jon Hamm and Melissa McCarthy, on an untitled “unconventional” romantic comedy, about a man (Hamm) who becomes obsessed with a woman. Currently in Australia doing press for the movie’s opening there, Moviehole got Feig to talk about the gestating comedy (more on that later), as well as discuss something that sounds like it could be a little more imminent — a new take on an unknown huge comedy franchise that could happen this autumn.
“There is actually something in the fall that is a sequel to a movie that people know but I can’t really talk about it yet,” Feig said, still dropping hints. “We’re still trying to finalize it. That would be fun. It is something I’ve wanted to do with some actors I’ve wanted to work with.” We immediately thought of “Zoolander 2,” but Feig actually says that the term “sequel” may have been misleading. “This would be a reboot of a franchise,” he clarified. “I want to talk about it but it might not happen because of actors deals and so on, so I better remain mysterious.” So what could it be? Below, we’ve run down 4 realistic contenders for the reboot (which we’re assuming is a comedy, bearing in mind Feig’s skill-set). Even while details are thin to non-existent right now, we think these are some pretty good guesses.
“National Lampoon’s Vacation”
One of the biggest comedy hits of the 1980s, ‘Vacation‘ was a family comedy that served as a vehicle for Chevy Chase, and now widely seen as something of a comedy classic. Chase and screen wife Beverly D’Angelo were reteamed for three subsequent sequels of diminishing returns across the next fourteen years, “European Vacation,” “Christmas Vacation” and “Vegas Vacation.” The wheels have been turning on this one for a while, with Chase and D’Angelo reunited in character for a 2010 Superbowl ad, while New Line announced last year that a new film was in the works, focusing on Rusty Griswold, now grown, taking his own family back to theme park Walley World before it closes. The project seems to fit the sequel/reboot vibe that Feig’s talking about (it was assumed that Chase and D’Angelo would return in grandparent roles), and the director would be a good fit for the crude-yet-heartwarming vibe of the franchise. Crucially, the script is by “Horrible Bosses” writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the latter of whom got his start on Feig’s “Freaks and Geeks.” However, assuming Chase does reprise his role, a fall start would conflict with his commitment to his role on NBC’s “Community.” However, the role may be little more than a cameo, so it’s not impossible. If we were betting men, we’d put our cash on this being the film Feig’s talking about.
Another big hit for Chevy Chase in the 1980s, based on Gregory McDonald‘s wisecracking detective, a reboot for this one has been in the works for decades: both Kevin Smith and “Scrubs” pair Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff tried to get a take going, although neither came to anything. But Warners acquired the rights to the character earlier in the year, aiming for a big-scale action-comedy. Our dreams of Shane Black being involved unfortunately came to nothing, due to the director being hired for “Iron Man 3,” with “The Dictator” writer David Mandel getting the screenplay gig instead. What this means, however, is a big comedy hit, with a script that could be ready to go in the fall, that needs a director. However, we’re not sure that Feig is a perfect fit here: if the film is indeed ‘a big-scale action-comedy,’ the studio may want someone who’s had a little more action experience: someone like Greg Mottola or David Gordon Green, for instance. Feig also seems to hint that the project is more of an ensemble piece. It’s not inconceivable it’ll be this, but there are more likely contenders.
For at least five years now, Sony have been high on getting “Ghostbusters,” one of their biggest properties, going again, commissioning a script from “Bad Teacher” scribes Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg a few years back, that would pair the original line-up with a string of new recruits. Feig showed some impressive ensemble-juggling work in “Bridesmaids,” and few have worked with as wide a range of the new generation of comic talent than he has, plus it fits the sequel/reboot hybrid he describes. However, there are a number of major obstacles here. Firstly, the movie is said to be budgeted at a whopping $150 million, and will undoubtedly include a heap of effects work, and we’d be very surprised if Sony gave Feig, who’s got no VFX experience to speak of, the reins to a movie with a budget five times that of “Bridesmaids.” Secondly, publicly at least, the film has a director, in Ivan Reitman, whose deal on the first film seemingly gives him first refusal of any sequel. We can see why Sony might want a younger helmer after Reitman’s tired, mis-matched job on “No Strings Attached,” but they might not have an option unless Reitman leaves of his own volition. Finally, and most importantly, the film’s green-light is intrinsic on the involvement of Bill Murray, who’s key to the existing script. A script that Murray hasn’t even read, and so far, has shown no intention of ever reading. Don’t count on Feig being involved here at all, unless there’s been a lot of major, major movement behind the scenes here.
The biggest-grossing comedy franchise of all time, with seven entries to date, is also one of the most derided: the first might have been relatively well-received, but things went downhill fast with each subsequent film. Still, the idea of a wacky group of trainee cops is a potent one, and the brand name still means something, so New Line and original producer Paul Maslansky announced plans for a reboot at the start of 2010. It would certainly fit the ensemble feel that Feig hints at, and jives with some of his wackier TV work, like “30 Rock.” Who’s to say that a complete restart, perhaps with a cast including “Bridesmaids” breakout Chris O’Dowd, T.J. Miller and Bill Hader, couldn’t work? Except that, as far as we know, the film doesn’t have a writer, which would make a fall start unlikely. And frankly, we can think of many, many better things that Feig could be doing with his time. Possible, but unlikely.
Other Contenders: Rumors were circulating not so long ago about a “Cannonball Run” reboot, with Guy Ritchie attached to direct. However, Warners told us that the project was ‘just a twinkle’ of an idea, and we imagine that the studio would rather stick with their new golden boy than go with Feig. There’s a “Bill & Ted” sequel in the works too, and a “Lethal Weapon” reboot, but neither seem like good fits for Feig. A “Revenge of the Nerds” or “Caddyshack” reboot are obvious, but there’s been little solid word on either, and the heart sinks at the prospect.
Meanwhile, Moviehole asked Feig about the new Hamm/McCarthy project, and he said, “It was one of those things where I was like Oh, that [news] wasn’t supposed to come out but I’m kinda glad it did; I’ve been secretive about it the past few months but I guess I’ve dropped enough hints too. It’s a real passion project; again, I just want to tell stories that don’t normally get told and this is another of those.” He added that the two actors were “the inspiration for it” and that the film is a “very unconventional love story, in the vein of [“Bridesmaids”]. Judd and I have a very specific storytelling style – it’s very real and out of the reality we’ll try to make it as funny as possible. I’m excited about that.”
But it sounds like the film is a way off yet as this potential sequel/reboot could come first. Either way, we await anything Feig and the “Bridesmaids” crew make with enthusiastic anticipation.