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This Gritty ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Reboot Needs to Become a Real Show

The classic sitcom gets twist-turned upside down into a superb dramatic short film.

Plenty of classic sitcoms are built on dark premises. Hogan’s Heroes and M*A*S*H are set in war zones. Homer Simpson parents while drunk and Michael Scott is as ignorant as they come. And then there’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the story of a poor kid moving across the country to escape the violence of the inner city. It sounds like the premise of a great prestige drama, and “Bel-Air,” a brilliant short film from director Morgan Cooper, proves it.

The trailer opens on Will Smith (the character, not the actor) sitting on a throne and wearing a crown, an allusion to the title sequence of the sitcom. Shots of Will playing basketball are intercut with his mom having a serious talk: “The only reason why you’re not in jail is because Uncle Phil called in a favor.”

Will gets in a fight at the court and the cops find a gun in his backpack. That’s it for mom, who says “You’re going to Bel-Air, to live with your uncle and your aunty,” immediately getting the Fresh Prince theme song stuck in the head of everyone who grew up with the show.

In sun-drenched California, we see Bel-Air Academy, an awkward scene with Uncle Phil’s white upper crust friends, Carlton confronting Will wearing a sweater wrapped around his neck, and even the pivotal moment where Will and Jazz (a.k.a. DJ Jazzy Jeff) meet in a record store.

Fatherly IQ
  1. When shopping for toys, what's the most important quality you look for?
    That it's fun.
    That it is educational.
    That it will keep my child's attention.
    That it won't drive me insane.
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The film ends with a montage of emotions: Jazz rocking out to some music, Uncle Phil crying, Will surveying Bel-Air from the hilltop mansion. Cooper cuts back to the throne, and we see Will putting on the crown in slow motion.

“Bel-Air” is definitely worth your time, but we can’t promise you won’t feel disappointed that it’s not a real show when you’re finished. It’s a long shot, but our fingers are crossed that there’s a network or streaming service that can make it happen.