Trying to sell an inferior product to a sceptical public is no fun. Faced with this task, it's common for people in the movie business to try and distract us by claiming they are reviving a long-lost greatest hit.
To this day, Kiefer Sutherland's strategy for promoting his current series Touch is to bang on relentlessly about how he wants to make a 24 movie. Then there's Harrison Ford, who spent half a decade manfully propping up dreck such as Hollywood Homicide and Firewall by hinting at the return of Indiana Jones. The fact that Indiana Jones did eventually return, but as the world's most disappointing fridge-riding alien hunter, is simply an unfortunate by-product of this.
So there's a chance that David Zucker doesn't really want to reboot the Naked Gun franchise. There's a chance that he looked at his new film Scary Movie 5 – with its opportunistic stunt casting and soul-draining pastiches of trailers he saw halfway through production – realised that it was a pale imitation of his best work and just decided to invoke the name of The Naked Gun to scare up a few headlines.
But invoke it he did. Talking to Hollywood.com this week, Zucker said: "You could do another Naked Gun, with a reboot. Like Star Trek … I think Paramount has an international brand in Naked Gun and I think there's something you can do."
Now, I know that a Naked Gun reboot is a bad idea. You know that a Naked Gun reboot is a bad idea. Hopefully David Zucker and Paramount know that a Naked Gun reboot is a bad idea. But the idea is out there now. There is a chance, however small, that this seed will grow into a reality. Surely that's cause enough for concern.
The Naked Gun is one of the all-time great comedies. The writing team of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker managed to take the crime genre and wring every last gag out of it in a way that was both gleefully scattershot and ruthlessly laser-focused. Everyone involved – even OJ Simpson – turned in the performance of their careers. Its influence can still be felt in everything from Family Guy to, regrettably, InAPPropriate Comedy.
But, increasingly, The Naked Gun looks like a one-off. The second film wasn't as funny as the first. The third film was barely funny at all. Following that, the writers dissolved into directing a series of disappointments such as Rat Race, Mafia! and, most notably in David Zucker's case, An American Carol, a blazingly unfunny rightwing rant about the state of America so dire in intent and execution that even conservatives hated it. If any of them still have the chops to do The Naked Gun justice, they're doing a wonderful job of keeping it hidden.
And, while there may be people who view the idea of a Naked Gun film that doesn't star Leslie Nielsen as sacrilege, the truth is that his work also took a nosedive as the years went on. He made a Mr Magoo film. He starred in 2001: A Space Travesty. He dressed up as an old lady for a thankless bit-part in a film called Stan Helsing. Perhaps he could have risen to the material towards the end if it was there, but it clearly wasn't.
Back when The Naked Gun was released, it pretty much had the run of the place. It could draw on decades of police movies, none of which had been spoofed before, in order to pack the script full of the richest genre quirks and tropes. Compare that with Scary Movie 5. It's not the first film to spoof horror. It's not the first film to spoof Paranormal Activity. It's not even the first film to spoof Paranormal Activity this year – A Haunted House beat it to the punch in January. The well hasn't just run dry. It's been soundly fracked to death.
With the spoof market this saturated, nobody – not even David Zucker – could make a decent fist of a Naked Gun film. Let's hope all this reboot talk was a diversionary tactic and nothing more.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk