Joel McHale on the ‘Community’ Movie Without Chevy Chase: ‘A Family Reunion Without the A-Holes’

Jeff Winger is ecstatic that the Greendale family will be back together, with the notable absence of one ‘smelly cousin’
Joel McHale on the ‘Community’ Movie Without Chevy Chase: ‘A Family Reunion Without the A-Holes’

Six seasons and a movie. That’s what Community fans started softly repeating to themselves when Dan Harmon was acrimoniously removed from the cult hit sitcom after finishing its third season in 2012. Those chants got slightly louder and significantly more panicked when the show was canceled just two years later, then they grew triumphant when the show’s sixth season was saved by Yahoo! the very day that the cast’s contracts were set to expire.

Now everyone is settling into the reality that Community will finally get the conclusion it deserves after Peacock officially announced the upcoming feature-length film finale last month. Nobody is more happy about the revival than Community’s biggest fan — Joel McHale. In a conversation with TheWrap at the Saturn Awards, which McHale hosted, Jeff Winger himself talked about the joy he felt in returning to Greendale with the rest of his cast mates and classmates — well, most of them, anyways. “It really is like a family reunion but without a-holes,” he explained. “Because you know, you go to a family you and you’re like, ‘Ugh, there’s that one cousin of mine. He smells.’”

Harmonious Claptrap

“Maybe if I dump this on you it will mask the stench”

We don’t need to take Jonathan Banks’ criminology class to solve the mystery of the “smelly cousin.” The friction between former Community cast member Chevy Chase and the rest of the stars from the show has been well-documented. There seems to be a yearly tradition of someone from the cast or crew dropping another bomb from their time onset with Pierce Hawthorne, with accusations of racism, sexism and general grumpiness swirling around the Saturday Night Live legend.

The clashes between Chase and Harmon were front-page entertainment news back during the waning days of Harmon’s initial run as showrunner and producer. The notorious “F you, Chevy” chant and the ensuing voicemail made both comedy legends look like bickering schoolchildren, and with Harmon set to be the executive producer and writer of the Community movie, it’s a foregone conclusion that the franchise will continue with no involvement from Chase, whose character — SPOILERS — was unceremoniously killed off in Season Five. Fittingly, the cast chose the episode immediately post-mortem for their table read reunion back at the beginning of the pandemic.

Outside of Chase, the cast of Community has generally remained devoted to the project, with McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown and Alison Brie all championing the idea of a Community movie since the finale of the show’s sixth season back in 2014. Just three days before NBCUniversal officially announced the film, Brown told E! News, “I’m 100 percent positive and hopeful there will be a Community movie. I could say that today in the same way I could have said it when we wrapped shooting however many years ago. It’s never been a desire issue. It’s always been a scheduling issue. I know that the conversations are happening.”

Surprisingly, Brown has yet to be announced as a cast member for the upcoming movie, though she has been posting about the film on her social media accounts. Donald Glover was another name that was notably absent from the initial announcement — the Atlanta creator and Grammy-winning musician’s schedule is probably a little tighter in 2022 compared to when he was first plucked off of the 30 Rock writing staff to play Troy Barnes back in 2009. 

Harmon, however, is unconcerned with the absences from the official cast list, saying of Glover, “I believe he is coming back. I think if there’s names missing from a list, it’s because the names that are on the list, their deals are agreed upon enough that it’s okay to say they are on the list, and anybody that’s not on a list, it’s just not the case yet. So there is nothing official about anybody being out.” 

McHale’s recent comments also seem to indicate that the cast will be fully reunited, barring a smelly cousin, of course. “It’s happening, and everybody’s back,” he said last night.

As for the production of the film(s), McHale revealed that they were shockingly ahead of schedule, saying, “We’ve shot all three of them so far. We shot ‘em in New Zealand. Peter Jackson was the director. We shot ‘em in The Shire. I was a lot shorter, and it’s happening.” 

He’s obviously kidding, but if there’s not a quality Lord of the Rings homage in the movie with Jim Rash dressed as half-Galadriel and half-Sauron, we will be sorely disappointed.

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