Every once in a while, a celebrity’s death will hit us in a way that feels too personal to explain. We (at least the vast majority of us), don’t know these stars, we’ve never met them, but we grieve as if we’ve lost a friend. Phil Hartman was one of these celebrities. When Phil was murdered by his wife in 1998, I was in middle school, just starting to find my tastes and find them weird. Hartman played a huge part in my developing sensibilities, being a major player in three of my favorite shows: SNL, News Radio, and The Simpsons. He was hilarious, and he was also— by all accounts of anyone who knew him, as well as anyone who’d only seen him on screen could easily tell— just the nicest man.
So when I first read the headline that a biopic was being developed around his life, a good, warm, excited feeling washed over me. And then immediately disappeared. Because THIS? This is not what we asked for. Here’s what we know about this early-stages project, the good and the bad.
The Good: A movie about Phil Hartman! Hooray!
The Bad: Oh right, then I remember, biopics are notoriously difficult to get right. Just in the last year, how many cinematic biographies have you been disappointed by? Right off the bat, I’m thinking The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Trumbo. And those were all huge productions, with great casts and big budgets and mighty Oscar campaigns. And still, this genre is tough. They just often come out so thin.
The Good: Um, again… it’s a movie about Phil Hartman. Whom almost all of his friends would or have called him the nicest guy you’ve ever met.
The Bad: The movie’s title is Nice Guy Phil. That’s just bad. Bad title. Try again, please.
The Good: Ooh, this is a good one! Hartman will be played by Veronica Mars’ Daran Norris.
The Bad: Can you handle this one? The movie will be directed by 90210’s Jason Priestly. This is starting to feel very Lifetime movie, isn’t it?
Okay, so we’ve got a movie about a man we love, starring a guy we love, directed by Brandon Walsh. So…. I guess we can chalk this one up to “wait and see”? Or maybe “wait and forget about its existence.” Because it could be worse, it could be better, and it’s also so early that maybe it won’t happen at all.
Via The Wrap.