Naked Gun reboot?

There are some film characters who are so indelibly linked to the actors who created them that it is almost impossible for someone else to take it over. One case is Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in the long running Pink Panther franchise that consisted of eleven films. Sellers acted in five of them that were the most successful. Other efforts, even with extremely good actors like Alan Arkin, Roger Moore, and Steve Martin fared abysmally.

Now I read that the Naked Gun series is being considered for a reboot and I think it will suffer from the same problem. The late, great, Leslie Nielsen owned the role of Lieutenant Frank Drebin and I think that his replacement Ed Helms, a good comedian in his own right, will fail to fill his shoes. There was something about the deadpan lunacy of Nielsen that made his character unique.

I don’t know why studios do this. It is true that the franchise name has some drawing power but that cuts both ways. It will draw the same audiences who loved the original but they will be always comparing the new with the original and find it wanting.

They should simply create a new franchise around a new star. But that requires original thinking and that is hard work. Meanwhile here are clips of the original masters, Sellers and Nielsen. They were great.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    Agreed – some reboots shouldn’t be allowed. One example was the film Get Smart. I’d rather watch any three or four episodes of the original TV show with Don Adams than that piece of garbage. That I find Steve Carell singularly unfunny didn’t help, but no-one could do justice to Adams’ work.

    “…and loving it!”

  2. eigenperson says

    Of course people do disagree over which actors are irreplaceable. I think that after Jeremy Brett died there was no point in anyone else playing Holmes. But the previous generation probably thinks the same thing about Basil Rathbone, and as awful as it is to contemplate, the next generation may well think the same thing about Benedict Cumberbatch.

  3. Frank says

    So much of the humor of Frank Drebin was physical comedy–including facial expressions–that I don’t think any comedian or actor could replicate the character. Helms is a very funny man, but he doesn’t look like Nielsen, so I can’t imagine how he could fill the role of Drebin. But maybe he will create a new Drebin franchise that is good in its own right. To your point, for me, Cumberbatch is Sherlock Holmes.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    I’ve been a fan of Holmes TV shows and movies since childhood, and I never got the impression that any one actor owned the part. Rathbone looked right, and played it OK, but most of the movies were crap propaganda, and Nigel Bruce (who I like) was a travesty of Watson. Brett was excellent, if a bit hammy, and the stories were the most faithful to Conan Doyle. Cumberbatch’s take is riveting (Holmes as sociopath).

    Of course, Robert Downey,Jr should stick to Iron Man.

    Still, my personal favourite Holmes was Peter Cushing, despite Hammer’s mucking about the story.

  5. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    As far as I’m concerned Ronald Howard (not that one, the other one,) is the perfect on screen Holmes, but for some reason he never gets mentioned in these conversations…

  6. Alverant says

    I think John Cleese would make a good Frank Drebin since he already has that straight laced style. Nielsen was doing serious movies before he went into comedy so I’d start looking there. You find an actor who has done dramas and have them do comedy. So I suggest Sam Waterston (Jack McCoy from Law & Order) to be the next Frank Drebin.

  7. says

    In general I have no problem with the concept of reboots and remakes. For instance railing against the Star Trek reboot seems a bit selfish to me (working under the assumption that one likes star trek, if not substitute your own classic tv/movie example) because it essentially denies newer audiences access to iconic characters in a format that is familiar to them.

    The Naked Gun example certainly seems like a tough one however, for exactly the reasons that Mano lists. However I wouldn’t say it was impossible. Hollywood had had a great deal of success with reusing old TV material, the Addams Family Movies for instance. Of course they were excellent because they were well directed and incredibly well cast. The Pink Panther films failed primarily because they were poorly written. And they completely screwed the casting. Kevin Kline should have been Clouseau. As big a Steve Martin fan as I am, he should have been kept far away from PP.

  8. mnb0 says

    “I don’t know why studios do this.”
    To make money. So what if the audience is disappointed?

    Heck, one remake (For a Fistfull of Dollars is a remake of Yoyimbo) initiated a revolution in movie making.

  9. colnago80 says

    I think the problem with Brett was that, like Sean Connery as James Bond, he grew bored with the part after a while and became irritatingly tiresome. As for the propaganda aspects, most of the Rathbone films were made during WW 2 and, most flics, particularly those shot in England, during that era had overtones of propaganda. I concur that Burke and Hardwick were much more believable Watsons then Bruce who played the part as a dolt.

  10. colnago80 says

    If one peruses IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, invariably the remakes of older films are rated lower then the originals.

  11. colnago80 says

    Of course, one should not forget the presence of the Rockingham Ripper in the Naked Gun movies.

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