Channing Tatum? Jillian Bell? And a gender-flipped ‘Splash’? Sign me up

If you were to ask me who the modern Daryl Hannah is, the first name that would leap to mind is Channing Tatum. No question about it.

Splash seems like an inevitable remake, and I”m frankly surprised that it took this long. It sounds like they”re doing it for the right reason, though, which is that someone who genuinely wanted to make the film came in the door and asked about doing it. Jillian Bell, who gave a breakout performance in 22 Jump Street, reportedly helped to develop the pitch for the film, and now Marja-Lewis Ryan is writing it for Disney. Both Imagine and Tatum”s Free Association will produce the film for the studio, and for Imagine, the stakes here are very high. After all, Splash is the film that turned them into a genuine commercial force to be reckoned with, and it helped build everything that came afterwards for both Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

The notion of playing this as the gender-switched inverse of the original is automatically interesting when you cast Bell and Tatum opposite each other, and when she”s the lead, the human being who encounters this magic and is changed by it. I think it”s hilarious that Tatum”s going to be playing this while we”re getting our first serious Aquaman from Warner at around the same time, and there are few credible action/blockbuster lead actors who are also able to routinely deflate their entire persona with such expert aim. Tatum rebuilt himself from his first wave of films as a guy who is self-aware and fearlessly funny, and I”m genuinely excited to see his take on a merman who falls in love with a human being.

No word yet on director, but it”s going to take someone who understands that no matter how weird the story gets, the humanity and the heart has to be front and center. That”s what made the original such a monster hit. Between Night Shift and Splash, Howard is as responsible for the archetype of the wise-ass white dude ’80s movie lead as anyone. There”s an entire attitude that can be summed up by the work that Michael Keaton did in Night Shift and that Tom Hanks did in Splash, and it feels like everyone was doing some variation on these characters for the next 15 years.

I can”t believe I”m saying this but… I”m really curious about this one. I”m in.