There are two types of moviegoers this weekend — those who remember S.W.A.T. was a TV show, and those who don't.
Into which group do you fall? Hollywood doesn't care.
If you're older, you'll probably remember the shoot-'em-up cop drama, even though it ran for only a year and a half. You can probably still hum the theme song, a hit single in 1975.
If you're younger, you may want to know that S.W.A.T. was the TV show based on the Los Angeles Police Department's Special Weapons and Tactics Unit. More importantly, the movie version features a sexy cast, led by Colin Farrell, Samuel L. Jackson and rapper LL Cool J. Will Britney Hazzard to Play a Duke? With the success of Charlie's Angels last year, Hollywood is scraping the mold off gone-but-not-forgotten TV shows, even though Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and The Hulk met with lukewarm success at the box office this summer.
Next April, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson will jump into a vintage red-and-white Ford Gran Torino to fight crime as Starsky & Hutch, with Snoop Dogg joining the fun as their street informer, Huggy Bear.
Also in development: big-screen versions of Hart to Hart, Fantasy Island as well as The Six Million Dollar Man.
When will it end? There's even a script floating around for a big-screen version of The Dukes of Hazzard, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The trade paper says Ashton Kutcher and Paul Walker want to star as Bo and Luke Duke, the fast-drivin' Southern cousins, with Anthony Anderson as Boss Hog.
Who will play the all-important Daisy Duke — the good ol' boys' country-flower cousin in very short shorts?
Hold on to your hat: There's speculation that it will be offered to Britney Spears, a Louisiana native who could play on her Southern roots as she tries to overcome the debacle of her first film, Crossroads. Six Million Dollar Role Too Small for Today’s Stars
Half the fun of reprocessing TV history is in the casting. With a possible remake of Get Smart in the works, Will Ferrell is said to be interested in playing Agent 86, the role immortalized by Don Adams.
Adams actually brought Agent 86 to movie theaters in 1989 with Get Smart Again, but apparently moviegoers will have another chance to get smarter — or less smart — one more time.
The Six Million Dollar Man might present producers with a problem that betrays the show's age. On today's market, with spiraling health-care costs, $6 million would hardly pay for a bionic pinky.
And how would it look if a $20-million-a-picture star like Arnold Schwarzenegger took the role — if his political career allows — only to play a bionic superman valued at a fraction of his net worth?
Arnold or a star of that stature would naturally demand to play at least a Six Trillion Dollar Man, or he'd be slumming it. But deviating from a familiar title is not something the studios seem inclined to do.
A Less-Than-Foolproof Film Formula Producers Still Love
On the face of it, S.W.A.T. doesn't seem as promising as other TV fodder. TV fans don't seem to have the affection for the Aaron Spelling drama as they do for Charlie's Angels, a subsequent Spelling creation.
Still, mixing a familiar title with a bankable cast seems like a safe formula, even if the final product bears little resemblance to its namesake.
Nevertheless, such a strategy didn't pay off last year for I Spy, an Eddie Murphy/Owen Wilson film version of the old Bill Cosby/Robert Culp show. The movie, budgeted at $70 million, brought in a paltry $33 million.
Could that be a signal to Hollywood that the nostalgia party is over?
S.W.A.T. is similar to I Spy in that it bears only token similarities to its TV namesake.
Farrell plays Officer Jim Street, a role originated by Robert Urich. He's a tough but independent crimefighter who's thrown off the S.W.A.T. team when he and his partner disobey orders.
They do that because — as we know in cop shows — sometimes you have to put standard operating procedures aside and go with your instincts.
Jackson is Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson, a tough-as-nails team leader who fights with the self-protecting pencil pushers who are more concerned about bad public relations than fighting crime.
Jackson puts Farrell and other loose cannons on his special unit, much to the higher-ups' chagrin, and that allows the movie to feature long training sequences, with the sexy stars stripped to the waist.
LL Cool J — billed as James Todd Smith — obviously enjoyed the physicality of the role and flashes a washboard stomach. S.W.A.T. is clearly his kind of movie.
"Every single day I've been doing something cool," says the rapper. "Whether it's fighting, jumping, flipping, rolling in the streets, jumping out of limousines, or bombs exploding, everything you want to do, I've gotten a chance to do in this movie."
In Search of More Masculine Angels
This S.W.A.T. team is tested when a French drug kingpin, apprehended early in the film, gets a message out to L.A.'s underworld, offering $100 million to anyone who'll free him. As farfetched as the plot may be, Jackson says working on the film made him appreciate real-life special police units.
"We generally see S.W.A.T. guys as snipers," he says. "But that's not their job. Their job is to make sure everybody comes out safe."
Still, at a price tag of $100 million, S.W.A.T. builds toward a chaotic climax, with chases through L.A.'s subway tunnels, a plane landing on bridge, and lots of bullets flying.
As this is a modern S.W.A.T. team, it's diverse. Michelle Rodriguez of Girlfight joins male officers and proves she's just as tough as the rest, and still very sexy.
Rodriguez offers a convincing performance, and in the name of diversity, this opens the possibility that a qualified, capable and sexy man will one day rise in the ranks as a full-fledged member of Charlie's Angels.
We boys always had Bosley as our virtual Angel. But let's face it, he's just a glorified secretary, and the times they are a-changin' … as long as you're not looking at the familiar names this week on the movie marquee.