Since its re-release on Netflix, the cult sitcom Community has found a second life, recapturing old fans, bringing in new ones, and reviving the old discussion of just when will we get a Community movie? Early on in the show’s run, meta shaman Abed Nadir states that the ideal length for any television series is six seasons and a movie. The final episode of Community aired in 2015, closing out the show’s sixth season before fading into the hashtag #andamovie. Many have wondered in the years since if this is a wish that will go forever unfulfilled, or a prophetic promise that will eventually come true. If there is a Community movie, what would it be like, and would it be possible for it to capture everything that made the show so unique and beloved?
To answer that question, we must first understand what Community was about. The show followed the misadventures of a study group created by disgraced former lawyer Jeff Winger (played by Joel McHale) as a means to seduce fellow student Britta Perry (played by Gillian Jacobs). Joining Jeff and Britta were pop-culture encyclopedia Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), former athlete and current nerd Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), recovering addict Annie Edison (Alison Brie), single mother and business entrepreneur Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), and moist towelette tycoon Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase).
In spite of how mismatched these characters were, they still formed a dysfunctional but tightly knit and loyal family. This all changed in the fifth season, when Glover, Brown and Chase left the cast in very short order, cutting the group down to almost half of its original size. Though the writing remained strong and new characters were brought in to fill the void, the vacuum left by these departures was still evident. The show even went so far as to make the finale about how friends aren’t in our lives forever, ending the show on a triumphant yet bittersweet note.
Given the impact these departures had on the show, it seems that a Community movie could very well be about bringing the group back together. Chevy Chase openly expressed his dislike for the show, his co-stars and creator Dan Harmon, which lead to his departure and the killing off of Pierce via excessive masturbation, so it is unlikely Pierce would return. Both Brown and Glover however have spoken fondly of their involvement. Recently, both took part in a table read of one of the episodes as part of a charity event, and have expressed interest in returning for a Community movie. So what would their roles look like should they return?
The Baker & the Truest Repairman
In an interview with the Movie Dweeb podcast, it was Danny Pudi himself who suggested a quest-based adventure could serve as the main plot of a Community movie, with reuniting with Troy Barnes being the end goal. This makes sense for a number of reasons, as Glover has rocketed to stardom ever since his time on Community. Knowing this, his return would mark a high point for a Community film, in particular for Abed since the two had perhaps the best dynamic on the show.
How would such a film begin? The final episode saw the departures of both Abed and Annie, who went to seek careers in film and the FBI respectively. Because of this, when a Community movie begins, only Jeff and Britta would still be at Greendale, which is fitting since the group started with this pair. Perhaps the event that starts the film would be a member of the study group finding some clue to Troy’s whereabouts. Annie for instance might find a clue while working for the FBI, or, as Danny Pudi suggested, Abed could find a clue as he implanted tracking devices in the group, which Troy still had on him when leaving Greendale.
Shirley’s return has a number of creative possibilities. Shirley’s departure is one of the funniest jokes on the show, where it’s revealed she has travelled to the bayous of Louisiana to become the assistant to an overly-dramatic alcoholic crippled detective named Butcher, played by Steven Weber. For Shirley’s return, incorporating this into the plot in some capacity could be very interesting, as it has shown she has brushed up on her detective skills during her time with Butcher, which could prove invaluable to the group and compliment the similar skills learned by Annie during her time at the FBI. This could also recall one of the earlier episodes where Annie and Shirley got jobs as campus security, resulting in their own buddy-cop episode. As to whether Butcher would play a large part in the plot, that remains to be seen.
Troy’s final episode was one of the most heartfelt on the show, which sent him off to sail around the world with LeVar Burton to seek his fortune. Troy had several noteworthy arcs that could be further explored in a Community film. Firstly, Troy is the Truest Repairman, a prophesied air conditioner repairman, who would not only fix air conditioners but also ‘repairman’ according to Vice Dean Layborne (John Goodman.) Such skills helped save the group on multiple occasions, and could prove an interesting plot point in a Community film. The last the study group heard of Troy was that he and Levar Burton had mysteriously vanished while on their voyage. This opens up several questions. Just who is responsible for them vanishing? Is it a stranger, or someone the study group has dealt with before?
It is unclear what role LeVar Burton would play.
Paintballs & Timelines
One of the things that made Community so appealing was the variety in its characters and episodes. In one episode the characters would be parodying NASA movies, and in the next, they’d find themselves in a 16-bit virtual reality simulation. Obviously, the creators of a Community film would be able to include all these elements, but there is enough in the show’s six-season run that could make for a solid feature-length film.
They are of course the characters themselves. Along with the original study group, the show boasted a colorful cast of recurring and supporting characters. Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), who continuously expresses feelings for Jeff Winger. Pelton would no doubt join the group on their journey, bringing his trademark uncomfortable tension and Dean related puns to a Community film. There were also various members of the group who joined following the departures in Season 5, such as the eccentric inventor Elroy Patashnik (Keith David), ex-cop Buzz Hickey (Jonathan Banks) and the straight-faced Frankie Dart (Paget Brewster.) Whether or not these characters return to join the study group on their adventure is unclear, but them being involved in some way would be a welcome addition.
The show also has no shortage of villains who could return for a Community film. The most popular is Dean Stephen Spreck of City College, Greendale’s chief rival who continuously attempted to turn Greendale into a parking lot. Spreck crossed paths with the study group numerous times, only for his plans to be foiled. There is also Mr. Rad, head of the Greendale Glee Club who both corrupted the group to partake in a horrible Christmas Pageant and murdered a previous Glee club after they dissatisfied him. And who could forget Repairman Murray, who murdered Vice Dean Layborne as a means to take over Greendale’s Air Conditioning Annex, only to be foiled by Troy? As for Greendale’s mentally ill former Spanish teacher Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), given the numerous times Chang both betrayed and helped the study group, a film would likely see him play both heroic and villainous roles.
As far as characters go, there are plenty who could return to a Community movie, but there are also plot points that could be revisited. Some of the most popular episodes of the show deal with paintball games that quickly get out of hand. Wrapping up a Community film with such a battle would recall some of the group’s most memorable adventures, and bring a movie to a fitting end. A movie could perhaps even incorporate The Darkest Timeline, a theoretical timeline proposed by Abed where the study group turns evil. The group would also need means of travel as such a story would likely not take place exclusively at Greendale. Would they travel in Elroy’s Winnebago, or maybe the Kentucky 1 spaceship from the second season? One of the perks of having such a wide variety of episodes is there will be a wide variety of things for creators of a Community movie to use, any one of which is worthy of its own movie.
The Obligatory Jeff Winger Speech To Wrap Things Up
Community has such variety, which is its strength, but that’s also its weakness. It’s a weakness because Community has so many great characters and bombastic insanity that there’s just too much to fit into a two-hour movie, so whoever makes a Community movie will be left with the difficult task of figuring out what to keep and what to cut. In the end though, maybe that won’t matter, because the greatest thing about the show isn’t paintballs or VR simulations or ass crack bandits. The greatest thing about Community is in the title itself. It’s in all the things that make Greendale so great, which amounts to a lot more than season-long story arcs or one-off homages to classic movies. It’s in the faces that fill the halls, classrooms and offices that greet us at the start of the day and bid us farewell at the end. The thing that makes Community great is the community.
As long as the filmmakers remember that, then any Community movie will live up to its title.
[Sources: The Movie Dweeb]
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