It’s About Time For A Hans and Franz Movie


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Michael Payne HS(In Austrian accent) Hear me now and believe me later…

Saturday Night Live has been at the forefront of American comedy since it’s opening monologue on October 11th, 1975. The list of comedic actors that have graced the halls of Studio 8H inside 30 Rock is legendary. Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley are just a few of the numerous comedic talents that were able to use their stint on SNL as a stepping stone to A-List celebrity status. One of the ways SNL helps it’s talent achieve this certain level of success is by putting them on the big screen.

There are two types of movies associated with Saturday Night Live, movies that star SNL cast members or movies that originate from SNL skits. I’m here to talk about the latter.

There’s a long list of SNL sketch movies, including such classic like The Blues Brothers (Rotten Tomatoes Review 80%), Wayne’s World 1&2 (85% & 60%), and Coneheads (34%). I mention these four because critically, these are the best of the bunch (since it’s release, Coneheads has become a cult classic). Although there have been several SNL sketch movies made, the majority of them been terrible. It’s Pat, Stuart Saves His Family and A Night at the Roxbury literally have me scratching my head when I think about how these movies evolved from ink to film. I kind of understand the need to make A Night at The Roxbury due to the enormous popularity of it’s star Will Ferrell but Al Franken (Stuart) and Julia Sweeney (Pat)? No offense but who’s rushing to the theaters to see one of their movies?  Maybe SNL wanted to advance these actors credibility by giving them their own vehicle. Or maybe they looked at the numbers and figured since their respective skits were popular, a corresponding movie would also be great. Unfortunately, the last batch of SNL sketch films have failed at the box office, performing so poorly that there hasn’t been a SNL sketch movie made since 2010’s MacGruber. Has Lorne Michaels thrown in the towel?

I feel one sketch has been overlooked.  It’s a sketch, that if properly made, could revive the whole SNL movie franchise: Hans and Franz.

Hans (Dana Carvey) and Franz (Kevin Nealon) are two grey sweatsuit wearing, overly muscular, macho Austrian bodybuilders that are here to “pump you up” and have a strong dislike for the  “girlie men”.

Debuting in 1987, Hans and Franz became one of the most popular sketches ever to appear on SNL. Their catchphrases were repeated in every classroom and boardroom across the country. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, who the characters are derived from, used the term “girlie men” during his 1988 Presidential run. Now it’s 2015 and the characters of Hans and Franz are still relevant, featured in a series of trendy State Farm commercials. If you compare the long-lasting popularity of Hans and Franz to any other SNL sketch that only live in our memories, you will see that Hans and Franz have an above average chance of drawing large crowds inside movie theatre’s.

With the lasting popularity of Hans and Franz, my question is, why didn’t they ever get their own movie? The “Hollywood” answer is easy: a movie entitled “Hans and Franz: The Girly Man Dilemma” was in the works but after executives saw the poor performances of movies like Stuart Saves His Family (30%) and It’s Pat (0%), the idea was dropped. And that’s a shame because the movie had a superb writing staff including Robert Smigel, Conan O’Brien, Carvey and Nealon. It was even going to be produced by Schwarzenegger himself and this was back when Schwarzenneger was a legit movie star.

I have no idea what THEIR version of the movie would look like but here’s how I see it. Opening shot, Austrian countryside: cut to Hans and Franz as babies in a cradle, showing an unusual level of strength. Next, they are in grade school, where they are relentlessly picked on by bullies. This inspires them to start working out and eventually, they come in 19th and 20th place (out of 20) in the Mr Universe contest. Taking what little money they’ve earned, the start a gym in sunny California (cameos from celebrities). They’ll need love interests, I’d cast Rhonda Rousey and Gina Carano. They run into some wacky, Eastern European world domination plot that involves them getting the girls and saving the day…you know, something like that. Give the film to a young and upcoming director, someone with fresh ideas and hungry to impress. Peter Atencio comes to mind. He’s known for directing episodes of Comedy Central’s Key and Peele and has that absurdist mindset this picture would need.

My point is, the characters of Hans and Franz deserve a chance to be made into a movie. Since their first sketch back in 1997, SNL has released 5 feature films: A Night at the Roxbury (11%), Blues Brother 2000 (45%), Superstar (32%), The Ladies Man (11%) and MacGruber (47%), MacGruber coming some 10 years after The Ladies Man. If executives were indeed scared off by the results of It’s Pat and Stuart Saves His Family, what explanation do they have for backing all these other films? Some would argue that Hans and Franz are past their prime, Dana Carvey is almost 60 and Kevin Nealon is already over that hump. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Their State Farm commercials featuring Aaron Rodger are some of the funniest spots on tv. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic for the past but Hans and Franz are ready for a primetime comeback because great comedy has no age.

Did you read that whole thing in an Austrian accent?