“The only reason you’re not in jail is ’cause Uncle Phil called in a favour.”
And so begins Morgan Cooper’s “Bel-Air,” a sombre reimagining of ecstatically upbeat ’90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” This isn’t the Will you know and love from 20+ years ago: don’t expect any of the backwards-cap-wearing, high-pitched wisecracking that we all connected with in our formative years. This comedy series has gotten the Dark Knight treatment – we’re getting gloomy…
Featuring a far more dramatic interpretation of Will’s eviction from West Philadelphia, you won’t find any of the finger-wagging bug-eyed Viola Smith you from that opening-credits rap. This mother is fierce – she’s ‘done her best,’ and casts Will out to the hillside paradise of Bel-Air.
Since its release on YouTube, Cooper’s fan-made trailer has hit over 2.7m views, as well as reportedly having been seen by His Royal Highness, the original Fresh Prince himself, Mr. Will Smith.
A commercial filmmaker by trade, Cooper has channelled many of his moody visual trademarks into this engaging three-and-a-half-minute video: high-contrast shots of shadowy living rooms, angelic silhouettes and crystals of sunlight sparkling through emerald leaves, Cooper’s film carries all the high-production-value panache of a modern music video.
BEL-AIR from Morgan Cooper on Vimeo.
If we were to compare the trailer’s source material to the Batman universe, it would be fair to class Will Smith’s brightly-coloured laugh-track TV series, broadcast from 1990-’96, to the camp George Clooney vehicle Batman & Robin (1997). Cooper’s gritty reinvention of the “Fresh Prince” is more in line with Christopher Nolan’s dark reimagining of the Caped Crusader in his Dark Knight Trilogy. Such is the trend nowadays to strip the campy colours of ’90s pop-culture properties, and throw on a cloak of desaturated greys and navy blues.
Take a look at Cooper’s video above to watch for a gritty revamp of the high-energy sitcom you rushed home from school for. But if you’re still hankering for some hot Will Smith action, check out his attempt to ski down a sand dune in Dubai.