It’s still not clear what happened with the Han Solo spinoff movie: Were directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller let go or did they walk? Or was it a mutual departure? Whatever the case, the directors — of both “21 Jump Street”s and “The Lego Movie” — had already shot four months of footage when the news landed. And what better person to ensure a smooth transition than their newly-announced replacement — another director cherished for his quicksilver timing and wildly inspired comedic touch: Ron Howard.
We kid, we kid; this sounds like a terrible idea. Howard’s made his share of comedies: “Splash,” “Gung Ho,” uh, “EdTV.” The first movie Opie ever directed was even an action-comedy: 1977’s 10-car-pile-up “Grand Theft Auto.” But “GTA” aside, these were sentimental comedies. They were heavy; they wanted to make you laugh and [dramatic pause] make you cry.
We’re doubting “Untiled Han Solo film” was ever intended to be a straight-up comedy, but given that Lord and Miller toiled on it for ages — and given that it was about a charming rogue who always seemed like the “Star Wars” character who lived the funnest life before meeting up with Luke and gang — it’s safe to assume it would be by light years the lightest and silliest entry the franchise has ever seen.
Then again, maybe Howard really will be just a workhorse — a guy who comes in to wrap things up, keep things moving, not imparting his own personal stamp on a production that simply needs finishing. Or maybe he’ll do what Richard Lester did to “Superman II”: The producers of that film fired their director mid-stride, too: Richard Donner, who’d helmed the first and was making the first two back-to-back. In order to receive credit from the Directors Guild of America, Lester went back and re-shot many of the scenes.
By doing that, he changed the entire tone of the movie. He made it a Richard Lester movie. And honestly that’s for the better. Frankenstein-cut or not, “Superman II” is better than the lumbering, tonally schizo first. Also, Lester made “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Petulia” and “Juggernaut”; Donner made “Radio Flyer” and “Conspiracy Theory.”
Anyway! After all that, we feel compelled to stick up for Howard. He’s good at making the kind of films we don’t personally really like. But he is good at them. He’s competent. And his Beatles doc last year, “Eight Days a Week,” was a fine documentary. And hey, he’s the narrator from “Arrested Development”! Maybe that guy will ghost-direct the Han Solo solo movie.