When it comes to Hollywood comedy, there are few better characters than Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun. A feature-length spinoff of short-lived but hilarious TV show Police Squad!, which was canceled after just six episodes in 1982, it still holds up today as a gut-bustingly absurd spoof of the small screen procedural.
Sequels The Smell of Fear and The Final Insult may have suffered from the law of diminishing returns, but the first installment remains as rewatchable now as it ever was, packed to the brim with one-liners, sight gags and the sort of deadpan slapstick that had first established Nielsen as one of the industry’s most reliable comic performers almost a decade previously in Airplane!
A reboot was first announced in 2013 with Ed Helms set to play Frank Drebin but failed to make it out of development hell, while the last official news came in 2017 when David Zucker revealed that the fourth Naked Gun would be more of a sequel than a reboot, with the plot following Drebin’s son.
However, the project might end up gaining traction once again from the most unlikely of duos, after Liam Neeson revealed that he’s spoken with Seth MacFarlane about potentially stepping up and headlining the latest chapter in the franchise.
“I’ve been approached by Seth MacFarlane and Paramount Studios to maybe resurrect the Naked Gun films. It’ll either finish my career or bring it in another direction. I honestly don’t know.”
Neeson and MacFarlane have collaborated several times in the past, of course, with the actor making cameos in both Family Guy and The Orville, while he played a supporting role in feature film A Million Ways to Die in the West. The 68 year-old is the same age now that Nielsen was the last time he played the bumbling cop in 1994, but the veteran action star is hardly renowned for his comedic chops.
While it could be a stroke of genius to cast him as the lead in an irreverent comedy along the same lines as The Naked Gun, surely the prolific MacFarlane could come up with an original concept instead of a reboot of an all-time classic.