Ed Helms to Star in New 'Naked Gun'

Ed Helms

Recent attempts at rebooting Revenge of the Nerds, and Police Academy have so far come to naught, but it looks like Paramount's plans to resuscitate the long-dormant Naked Gun series might actually pay off.

The studio has announced that Ed Helms is attached to star in a new Naked Gun, which is currently being written by Reno 911 partners Thomas Lennon and R. Ben Garant. No director or release date were mentioned.

It's a somewhat puzzling move for Helms, who's demonstrated a fairly reliable acumen for choosing scripts. His leading-man debut, Cedar Rapids, earned largely positive reviews, setting a pattern for his larger-profile roles (Jeff, Who Lives at Home, The Lorax) that helps offset his brief appearances in the occasional dud (We're the Millers).

Now that The Hangover trilogy is done, it may have occurred to someone that Helms could be a reliable anchor for another comedic franchise, and given his gift for playing sweetly arrogant clueless goofballs, The Naked Gun must have seemed like a pretty good fit. With a worldwide gross of $275 million, the trilogy (which was based on the short-lived Police Squad! TV series) represents money in the bank for the studio, so it's also easy to understand the temptation behind the idea of a reboot.

Problem is, The Naked Gun's central character, Detective Frank Drebin, is so closely identified with original star Leslie Nielsen (who died in 2010) that trying to take over the role seems like a thankless task. Helms is funny, but unlike Nielsen, he isn't great enough to salvage a crappy script -- as Nielsen was asked to do more than once in the last few years of his career. Beggaring comparisons to an icon is usually a bad idea, and the odds don't seem to be in Helms' favor.

On the other hand, it isn't like the Naked Gun movies are exactly comedy classics; while they certainly contained their share of laugh-out-loud moments (especially the first one), there's room for improvement, and Lennon & Garant know how to bring the funny. Who knows? In the meantime, Helms' status as the star of New Line's National Lampoon's Vacation reboot remains up in the air.

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Jeff is an entertainment writer and editor whose work currently appears at a variety of sites, including Rotten Tomatoes, Paste, American Songwriter, Popdose, Dadnabbit, Diffuser, and Ultimate Classic Rock.

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