Casting Sony’s Live-Action “Alf” Film

August 14, 2012

Sony has acquired the rights to produce a full-length live action feature film based on the 1980s TV series "Alf."No, we're not kidding.

For those of you who might be too young to remember (you have no idea how old it makes me feel to have to write that), "Alf" was a sitcom about an alien creature living in secret with a family from the suburbs of Los Angeles named the Tanners. He was constantly threatening to eat their cat and looked like a genetic mash-up of an aardvark, a golden retriever, and Brian Setzer.

You have to understand that the 1980s were a weird time for all of us.

I've seen some griping about the idea to do a movie, but I have to admit that I'm intrigued by the prospects. What? Oh, c'mon, our childhood's been for sale ever since the first "Chipmunks" movie, and adapting properties from other mediums has been Hollywood's bread and butter since before talkies were all the rage. More importantly, where do we get off acting as if the creative integrity of "Alf" is being compromised (, for crying out loud)?

No writer or director is attached yet, so if anyone from Sony is reading, I'd like to offer my pitch for the plot and the cast of the film. Look, it's going to happen, so we might as well do the best with what we have.

Let's start with the cast.

Alf – Paul Giamatti

It'd be easy to simply recreate the cool smart-aleck version of the character. After all, the creator and voice of Alf (Paul Fusco) still performs as the character in appearances and television cameos. But a film adaptation demands a more sophisticated approach. Just imagine Paul Giamatti playing Alf with his trademark high-strung anxiety and stilted delivery. It's beautiful, isn't it? Also, instead of CGI or puppetry, we'll just put him in a big fur suit and slap that fake nose on him.

Willie Tanner (the Dad) – Gary Oldman

I don't think there can be any other person on this planet more suited to play the target of Alf's torment, social worker Willie Tanner. Just imagining Oldman acting out one of Willie's signature angry outbursts is giving me chills.

Kate (the Mom) – Ally Sheedy

Kate was the girl next door (who in a typical television trope was also very attractive and way out of her husband's league) who was also a bit quirky. There's nobody more suited for this than Ally Sheedy. Last time I recall seeing her, she was losing her mind onstage after winning an Independent Spirit Award or something. Perfect, right?

Lynn (the sister) - Natalie PortmanBrian (the brother) - The Kid from "Two and a Half Men"

Natalie Portman perpetually looks like she's sixteen years old. Even if it takes them ten years to make this film, she could still pass for a teenager. The Kid from "Two and a Half Men" might be a problem, though, when puberty fully sets in. Hopefully they also replace him on "Two and a Half Men," in which case we'll just cast that kid.

Trevor & Raquel Ochmonek - Danny DeVito & Meryl Streep

The Tanners' nosy and suspicious next-door neighbors will be a constant hassle for the Tanner family, and I can think of no better actors to pull off obnoxious and intrusive head cases than DeVito and Streep. Streep because she's a fantastic actress who can play any role, and DeVito because he's very loud and kind of a head case.


The film starts with Alf (Paul Giamatti) in his spaceship as it's hurtling towards Earth. Giamatti performs one of his signature freak-outs as sparks fly everywhere, one of which sets his fur suit on fire. The kids will love this.

He crashes into the garage of Willie Tanner (Gary Oldman). Willie bonds with the creature, hiding him out in his shed and bringing him food and water along with basic toiletries. They discuss what brought Alf to Earth: he was training off planet to liberate his native land from an evil empire that has encompassed his entire home planet when an attack from another spaceship fried his navigation system. Brian (The Kid from "Two and a Half Men") finds Alf and freaks out. With his cover blown and realizing that it will be easier and more convenient to keep him in the house, Willie brings Alf to meet the rest of the family.

Meanwhile, the prying eyes of nosy next-door neighbors the Ochmoneks are on the Tanners. They engage in various shenanigans to uncover the truth, with Raquel spotting Alf through a window as he's engaged in a thrilling parkour chase sequence with the Tanners' cat.

In the Third Act, the Ochmoneks notify the Alien Task force, a clandestine government organization, of Alf's presence in the Tanner household. They immediately regret their decision and inform the Tanners of what they've done. But it's too late. The Task Force arrives and, despite the combined efforts of the Tanners, the Ochmoneks, and Alf's parkour skills, their home is destroyed. A final showdown occurs in downtown Los Angeles where the Task Force is finally defeated.

Alf, now exposed to the public, tells Willie that he must leave to protect not only himself but the family that he's come to love because "some men just want to watch the world burn, Willie." He takes off into the night, explaining that whether or not the Earth accepts him, he will be there to protect them in the night. He will not be the Alien Life Form they need, but he will be the one they deserve.

In the post-credits sequence, the camera zooms out of Earth and brings us to the edge of our own solar system, where a fleet of spaceships resembling vintage 1950s automobiles are heading towards Earth. Gasp!

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Source: Alien Productions/NBC