Houston, we have a remake!
It’s rare when a seminal event in American history is interpreted comically. It’s even more uncommon when said comedic vision actually works. Add healthy doses of toe-tapping songs and fart jokes and you have the makings of the uproariously side-splitting romp Apollo 13 Phew!, an upcoming Universal Pictures musical comedy to be directed by Ron Howard.
“To paraphrase Star Trek, we boldly go where no movie has gone before,” said screenwriter Mike Judge (Beavis and Butt-Head). “We thought of ways we could reinvent the story into an even more daring space adventure than a boring explosion followed by the crew basically just holding on for dear life.” He stroked his chin, considering the options. “We were thinking, you know, maybe the cast could be cartoon characters, killer robots or possibly super-intelligent apes.” He brightened, as if in mid-epiphany. “Suddenly, the light bulbs clicked on. Opie (Howard) suggested, ‘How about we make a musical comedy?’ and we were all like, yeah, that’s brilliant.” He smiled and then said, “So that’s exactly what we are doing.”
Naming the movie
Naming the remake wasn’t easy. “Of course, we first considered Apollo 13 2,” said Judge. “But Opie thought that would be preposterous, since this is a remake, not a sequel. When we were toying with using a cast of apes, we tossed around Apollo of the Apes and Apollo 13 Zoo, but those probably wouldn’t work with a human crew.”
Judge revealed the rational for settling on Apollo 13 Phew! “We want to appeal to Millennial and Gen Z moviegoers,” he said. “Unfortunately, neither generation knows anything about history, so we figured “phew” was a way to signal that everything will eventually be okay, that space really can be a safe space.” He winked and said, “Also, the rations they consume tend to be of the bean burrito variety, and let’s just say it gets a little rank in the Command Module after a couple of days. You’ll hear Tom Hanks yell that word a lot.”
The characters of Apollo 13
Judge indicated that care has been taken to balance historical accuracy with the types of comedic antics seen in movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and School of Rock. “It hasn’t been easy,” he confessed. “I mean, serious documentaries and teenage slapstick humor might be two different genres altogether.” He held up an index finger. “And in a lot of ways, they are. That is, until you factor in the comedic genius of Kevin Bacon.”
Bacon, who played astronaut Jack Swigert in Apollo 13, will do so again in the remake, with a twist: a complete personality makeover. “Swigert was an idiot in the original movie,” said Judge. “Bacon played him as taciturn and deadpan, as if his dog died right before shooting began. That landed like a lead balloon in the original movie and it sure as heck won’t work in the remake.”
Instead, Swigert is the villain of Apollo 13 Phew! “He’s loud, impetuous, and foul-mouthed,” said Judge with a grin. “He pushes a bunch of wrong buttons on the control panel, bickers with Mission Control and constantly gets under the skin of Hanks’ character Jim Lovell.” He laughed and said, “One of the high points of the movie is a zero gravity fight scene between Swigert and Lovell with singing, floating urine bags and karate chops, culminating in Swigert pulling a gun on Lovell. Since there’s no gravity in space, the bullet hilariously travels in slow motion like in The Matrix, before Lovell sidesteps and sprays Swigert into unconsciousness with Silly String.”
Ed Harris and Gary Sinise will not be returning. “In hindsight, we realized it was a big mistake to have Harris play Gene Krantz in the original, since he was beyond awful,” said Judge, shaking his head. “And Sinise was even worse with his serial killer face and constant mumbling. We’ve written them out of the story altogether.”
Asked about Fred Haise (the astronaut played by the late Bill Paxton), Judge indicated that no firm decisions had been made, but the producers were “leaning toward a woman” for the role, with Kristen Stewart (Twilight) and Tyler Perry (Madea Goes to Jail) under serious consideration. “It would be a blast to have Haise in a space-miniskirt, space halter top and high-heeled space boots, driving the men absolutely crazy,” mused Judge. “Hey, maybe that’s what starts the space fight!”
John Williams will compose the music
“The musical score will be pure John Williams funk,” said Judge. “We all know Bacon’s work in Footloose, but what isn’t well-known is that Tom Hanks sang City of Crime with Dan Akyroyd. “We’re going to have Lovell and Swigert do a space version of that classic rap, along with lots of other musical numbers.”
Shooting for the moon
Could the Oscars be in the cards? “I don’t see why not,” replied Judge. “We’ve got an epic American tale, the biggest star in Hollywood, Opie as director, and a fantastic supporting cast.” He flashed a grin and added, “Maybe even Tyler Perry in a space-miniskirt!”
Apollo 13 Phew! is slated for release on Labor Day, 2020.
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