Pitching The ‘Community’ Movie
I can’t compare any television show to Community; because there wasn’t a show like Community. I remember watching the pilot and hoping it would be a new television show for my bored high school self to watch. I’ll admit I fell off during the first season, but I rediscovered it while it was in the middle of their second season. The show garnered critical acclaim but failed to find a large audience. But, over the years, a cult following grew around the show, and the battle cry #sixseasonsandamovie was born. This hashtag has remained relevant thanks to the show’s success on various streaming services. These #sixseasons deserve their #andamovie, and here’s what I think it should be.
With any amount of time, all intellectual properties need a reason for their characters to get back together. For a Community movie, we need the personal and familial reasons for the Study Group to get back together. The safe assumption is the gang comes back together to save Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) and LeVar Burton (himself) from the pirates that had shipnapped them in season 5. However, I imagine Troy and LeVar’s charisma would save them from any dangerous situation the pirates put them in. My plot takes inspiration from the recent Ari Aster film, Midsommar. In my movie, the study group must regroup to rescue Shirley from an intense cult in the badlands of Georgia.
Jeff (Joel McHale), the law professor at Greendale Community College, is still the same womanizing, self-absorbed individual from the show. He hasn’t connected with the other faculty after Annie and Abed moved on with their lives, aside from Britta (Gillian Jacobs), the new psych professor at Greendale. She has become the most popular faculty member in the school. She hasn’t actually “taught” anything to the students, but her “Easy A” class is well-known within the halls of Greendale.
In the years since the show ended, Jeff has seen Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) going to the Dean’s office to receive his checks for the hologram in the library entryway. Due to the secrecy and moral implications of Pierce benefitting from his own “death,” it’s easy for Jeff to decline any offers for the two of them to “hang out.” However, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) and Señor Chang (Ken Jeong) are very much a part of Pierce’s social life.
Annie Edison (Alison Brie) has since moved on from Greendale. We see her investigating a homicide and putting her law enforcement skills to good use. Impressing the audience with these skills, we hear “CUT!” and realize it was just a television show. Annie has been working as a consultant for a police procedural. She’s been living with Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) in Los Angeles as Abed’s film and television career begins to take off. Following her internship in D.C., she hasn’t been able to land the law enforcement job she wanted. She’s been deemed “unfit” during every psych evaluation and has been working as a consultant and a body-double for Abed.
Abed’s been feeling disappointed with the industry. He’s learning that most of the projects being produced fail to live up to his time at Greendale. The shows and films being produced are nothing but superhero films, reboots, or cheaply made films for streaming platforms. He wants an adventure like they had in the “good old days” but isn’t sure if that will ever happen.
Jeff, Britta, Abed, and Annie receive a letter from Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) inviting them to Georgia to join her. She tells them about her new “religion.” Each of them recognizes it as a cry for help. Jeff remembers a conversation with Shirley regarding her disdain for cults. Annie reflects on Shirley’s devotion to Christianity and how extreme humidity upsets her hair. Abed sees it more as a call to adventure and doesn’t see anything wrong with the letter. Britta thinks Shirley misspelled “Shirley” in her signature and uses some backward psychology logic to arrive at the same conclusion.
The duos fly out to Georgia and run into each other at the airport. Jeff and Annie have an uncomfortable reconnection after their goodbye kiss. Abed, Britta, and Annie have an awkward conversation since Annie and Abed saddled Britta with the rent at their old apartment. They travel to the Georgia coastline, where they run into students of Greendale’s past. Starburns, Garrett, Vickey, and Magnitude have all been converted by Shirley. They learn Todd was in the cult but kicked out for being too “Todd.”
While reconnecting, Shirley tells the group that she joined the cult because of her unfaithfulness to Andre. Despite his recommitment, she never forgave him for cheating and, in turn, cheated on him with Detective Butcher (Steven Weber). Andre Bennett (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) took the kids, and Shirley spiraled. She found solace in a local cult, led by their charismatic leader (Patrick Stewart), that promised her kids a safe return. She joined them and was told she needed to recruit enough people to the cult’s satisfaction.
After a few days, Shirley gets an opportunity to tell the group that she never actually cheated on Andre; the cult made the story up to hide their nefarious purposes. The cult, knowing of Shirley’s relationship with a charismatic ex-lawyer and an “auteur” who is in the film industry, kidnapped the kids to get Shirley to join and bring the two of them to Georgia. The cult wishes to use Jeff as a spokesperson to give a rousing speech to recruit more members and Abed to create and distribute the video using his Hollywood connections. The group asks how the cult learned of Jeff and Abed. It turns out Shirley has been bragging about her college friends to anyone who would listen. She reminisces publicly about how much she misses them, which was overheard by one of the cult members in a grocery store. The cult hadn’t heard anything about Britta. The leader then holds the group of five hostage and refuses to let them leave until they create a fun, viral recruitment video for the cult.
When all hope seems lost, a sports car appears, and Dean Pelton, Chang, and Pierce hop out of it. The trio learned of the cult and the location from Chang, who has been going through Britta’s (and Jeff’s) garbage. Unaware of the current predicament, the trio asks to join the cult. The Dean and Chang want to join to avoid being left out of the Study Group’s antics while Pierce boasts about his wealth. It becomes clear that, with Pierce’s money, they’ll be able to boost the production budget on the recruitment video. The three are welcomed with open arms.
As the gang works on the video, they encounter some significant roadblocks. Between Jeff’s general unwillingness, Britta’s incompetence, Abed’s perfectionism, and Pierce’s “Pierceness,” this becomes too much for the cult. During the video production, Annie goes about generally unnoticed and learns about the cult’s inner workings. The cult decides the video isn’t worth the trouble the group is causing them and that they’ll continue recruiting the old-fashioned way, handing out flyers in various trailer parks. The cult decides they no longer have a reason for the group and plan to get rid of them. Because their Submersible Potato Deity (the first time anyone in the Study Group has heard of this) condemns murder, they decide it be best to maroon them in the Gulf of Mexico on a life raft.
The gang is driven down to the Gulf in a rundown old bus. Chang, of course, switches sides, joins the cult on the drive and offers to drop each study group member into the water, personally. Once marooned, the six of them, under the pretense of imminent death, reconnect. As they come to peace with their mistakes, a boat comes to their aid. Believing it to be the “Childish Tycoon,” the ship that Troy and LeVar captained, the gang (especially Abed) becomes overwhelmed with excitement. However, they soon realize it’s just the stupid Coast Guard.
However, one of the Coast Guard members IS Troy. He tells the group (and the Dean) that LeVar struck a deal with the Pirates to read various children’s novels if they returned Troy to shore. Troy joined the Coast Guard hoping to one day rescue LeVar from his pirate captors.
Now reunited, the group of eight alerts the authorities when they arrive on the Florida shore. While in Florida, they find experimental paintballs that render the individual that’s hit unconscious. As they enter the cult’s camp, they see that the Coast Guard has already infiltrated and arrested the higher-ups involved. The Cost Guard radioed in everything before the group even reached the shore. Because why would they wait until they’re back on land? That would be stupid.
Jeff is the leading attorney that prosecutes the cult members. Britta is allowed to dissect the cult leader’s psyche for the “Greendale Journal,” which helps give the school a little more notoriety. Annie is asked to join the Atlanta Police Department after showing initiative and collecting the primary evidence while at the cult’s compound. Shirley is reunited with her family. Abed joins Troy on his rescue mission for LeVar while writing the script for a movie (or show) based on the group’s adventures over the years. And Pierce announces to the world that he is still alive, to no fanfare.
The Study Group (and Dean) meet yearly to have drinks and reconnect.
Chang and Starburns discuss collecting the “Infinity Minerals” to help with their prison escape. Then a subtitle appears saying, “the pair never escaped.”
Odds Of This Happening:
In all honesty, slim to none. I imagine a Community film will, eventually, exist in some form but not in the way I’ve described. As a lifelong fan, I hope we see these characters reunite in a feature film to live out the promise of #sixseasonsandamovie, but only time will tell.
Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame), who produced nearly half of the episodes and directed a handful, should have the pull to get this film made now.