The Next Best Thing to a Movie: 15 Arrested Development Mini-Reunions

Next week marks the fifth anniversary of Fox’s official cancellation of Arrested Development, and so far, we have yet to see any actual plans to make that movie. But fear not, Arrested Development aficionados! The nine top-notch comic performers who make up the show’s central cast really enjoy working together. So much so that they’ve been appearing in movies, TV, and web content together, in different combinations, ever since Arrested’s demise. While you wait on baited breath for that long-promised feature film version, you might as well take comfort in the fact that these talented actors and actresses are continuing to work together.

While none of these collaborations have quite reached Arrested Development’s level of comedic perfection, these other movies and shows might be enough to tide fans of the show over for now. Here are 15 post-Arrested Development projects that feature more than one actor from the show!

1. Paul (2010) and 2. The Invention of Lying (2009)

With Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor

Although they don’t have any screentime together in the just-released sci-fi comedy Paul and Ricky Gervais’s The Invention of Lying, Bluth father and son pop up in each. In Paul, Tambor has a cameo as jaded sci-fi writer Adam Shadowchild, while Bateman has a meatier role as Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil. Bateman cameos as a doctor in The Invention of Lying, while Tambor plays Ricky Gervais’s clueless boss at a movie studio.

3. Year One (2009)

With Michael Cera and David Cross

The Biblical character Cain (played by David Cross) is only one of the many Old Testament superstars Jack Black and Michael Cera encounter in this Harold Ramis-directed comedy. The highlight of their many scenes together involves Black and Cera witnessing Cain’s infamous murder of his brother Abel (played by Paul Rudd).

4. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (2010) and 5. Freak Show (2006)

With David Cross and Will Arnett

David Cross stars in Todd Margaret and Freak Show (both of which he co-created), with Will Arnett onboard in a regular supporting role in each one. Freak Show was a short-lived Comedy Central cartoon Cross and H. Jon Benjamin (Archer, Bob’s Burgers) came up with, revolving around circus freaks who moonlight as crimefighters. Arnett voiced the villain Duncan Schiesst who was constantly trying to purchase the freaks, while Cross voiced two members of the freak squad. The talented cast also included Jon Benjamin, Janeane Garofalo, Brian Stack, Todd Barry, Fred Armisen, and Jon Glaser.

Todd Margaret was Cross’s next stab at creating a series, this one being much more successful. In the IFC/Channel 4 comedy, Arnett plays the cruel boss to Cross’s pathological liar character. Todd Margaret has already been picked up for a second season of six episodes, but time will tell if Arnett’s other duties will preclude him from taking part full-time.

6. Veronica Mars episode: “The Rapes of Graff” (2006)

With Michael Cera and Alia Shawkiat

The wound was still fresh for Arrested Development fans when Michael Cera and Alia Shawkiat guested in this episode of the critically-acclaimed UPN series Veronica Mars. Arrested Development’s cancellation had just been announced, but this was at least an early indication that the stars of the show would be sticking together. Cera plays a geeky tour guide at a college campus, while Shawkiat goes dramatic to play a rape victim. Series reator Rob Thomas wanted both actors to return in recurring roles for Veronica Mars’s third season, but scheduling conflicts dictated otherwise.

7. Juno (2007)

With Michael Cera and Jason Bateman

Bateman and Cera both played significant supporting roles in this Oscar-winning comedy, but unfortunately for Arrested fans, their characters don’t have any scenes together. Although there’s no real reason for Cera and Bateman’s characters to interact in Juno, it couldn’t have hurt to plop them into a scene together. It would have been funny and a comforting sight for fans still reeling from Arrested Development’s then-recent cancellation.

8. RV (2006)

With Will Arnett and Tony Hale

Will Arnett plays Robin Williams’s boss in this family comedy, and he’s in full-on villain mode, as he is in just about every role he takes these days. Arnett has a substantial supporting part, but Tony Hale only has a couple of scenes as an unpleased employee of Arnett’s dickish exec. Not too far off from the GOB-Buster dynamic, eh?

9. Archer (2010-Present)

With Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor

Jessica Walter is a series regular on FX’s animated spy comedy Archer, voicing the central character’s mother Malory Archer. The show’s creator Adam Reed has even gone as far to call Archer, “James Bond meets Arrested Development.” The cast also includes recurring Arrested Development’s guest star Judy Greer, and Jeffrey Tambor begins to pop up partway through the first season in a frequent role.

Walter and Tambor showed great chemistry as a couple — excuse me, as couples — in Arrested Development, as Jeffrey Tambor played George and Oscar, two romantic interests to Jessica Walter’s Lucille Bluth. The episodes of Archer Jeffrey Tambor guests in are perhaps the most satisfying of these Arrested Development mini-reunions, since Tambor and Walter are so funny together and the relationship between their Archer characters plays off of their Arrested Development roles by casting them as a couple once again. Tambor’s character Len Drexler may also be Sterling Archer’s father, in a plotline that echoes his Arrested character Oscar’s relationship with Buster Bluth. Jeffrey Tambor seems to have been cast in this role primarily due to how well he worked with Walter in Arrested Development, and it’s one of the few entries on this list that feels like the Arrested stars were put together as a direct response to the greatness of that show. Seeing Walter and Tambor paired up onscreen again, even if it’s in animated form, is a nice treat for Arrested Development fans.

10. Unaccompanied Minors (2006)

With Tony Hale and Jessica Walter

Paul Feig, creator of Freaks and Geeks and a frequent director on Arrested Development, helmed this kids movie, and he filled the cast with some of our greatest living comedic actors and also Wilmer Valderrama. Playing supporting roles or cameos in Unaccompanied Minors are Rob Corddry, Kristen Wiig, Lewis Black, Rob Riggle, B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, Cedric Yarborough, David Koechner, Dave “Gruber” Allen, three of the five Kids in the Hall (their characters here are called “the Guards in the Hall”), and Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter and Tony Hale. Walter and Hale each have tiny cameos that don’t overlap, but it’s nice to see mother and boy in the same project again.

11. Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

With Will Arnett and Jeffrey Tambor

Will Arnett and Jeffrey Tambor each provide their voices to this computer-animated film, with Arnett playing a monster called link and Tambor playing the father to Reese Witherspoon’s human character. Despite the film’s success, don’t expect to hear Arnett and Tambor in a sequel, as the movie’s disappointing international performance has prevented this from happening.

12. Clark and Michael (2007)

With Michael Cera, David Cross, Tony Hale, and Mitch Hurwitz

Michael Cera and his pal Clark Duke’s hilarious web series, about the two trying to get a TV show on the air, is filled with cameos from a number of talented comedic actors. Cera even called in favors from a few of his Arrested Development cohorts for this one. David Cross is particularly funny as an oddball driving instructor (“I cannot stress this enough… Steering is so, so very important. You’re gonna wanna steer, okay?”) Tony Hale is also memorable as the enthusiastic head of the ATC Family network, passes on Cera and Duke’s script. But the most surprising Arrested Development cameo in this one comes from creator Mitch Hurwitz, who rarely acts. Hurwitz plays a talent agent and he demonstrates proof that he should have been acting in addition to hiding out behind the camera all of these years. Hurwitz is just as naturally funny and quick as his writing is.

While many of the post-Arrested collaborations listed here have been tonally opposite the show (family comedies, animated projects, a teen crime drama), Clark and Michael is a closer fit to Arrested Development’s sensibilities. While Cera and Duke certainly bring their own comedic voices to the project, it’s a safe bet fans of Arrested Development would enjoy this web series.

13. Sit Down, Shut Up (2009)

With Jason Bateman, Will Arnett (Mitch Hurwitz and Jim Valllely behind the scenes)

Fans were expecting Sit Down, Shut Up, Mitch Hurwitz’s animated Fox sitcom to be the next Arrested Development, especially given the presence of a talented voice cast that included Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Arrested regular Henry Winkler. Unfortunately, Sit Down, Shut Up was a far cry from Hurwitz’s previous television effort and the show was quickly cancelled.

14. DumbDumb spots

With Jason Bateman and Will Arnett

It was announced last year that Jason Bateman and Will Arnett were forming DumbDumb, a digital production company focusing on comedic “commercials, shorts and original content.”

While this wasn’t the Arrested Development reunion we were hoping for, it’s always nice to see these two real-life friends onscreen together. So far, Bateman and Arnett have only appeared in one DumbDumb spot together, which also features Aubrey Plaza and Rachael Harris.

15. Running Wilde (2010)

With Will Arnett, David Cross, and Jeffrey Tambor (Mitch Hurtwitz, Jim Vallelly, and Will Arnett behind the scenes)

Out of all of the projects that followed for the cast and crew, Running Wilde had the most in common with Arrested Development, at least in terms of the show’s style and the talent involved. Sure, there’s a huge disparity in the quality between the two series, but Running Wilde shares a lot of creative blood with Arrested Development. It was created by Mitch Hurwitz, Arrested writer James Valllelly, and Will Arnett; and it starred Will Arnett with David Cross in a recurring role. Hurwitz and co. even filmed an unaired episode in which Jeffrey Tambor guest starred as Will Arnett’s character’s father.

If it were given time to grow, Running Wilde could have evolved into a better show, and there’s no doubt other guest spots by Arrested Development actors would have followed. Given Will Arnett and Jason Bateman’s friendship, I bet we would have seen him pop up if Running Wilde was given another season or two.

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While these are most of the works that the Arrested Development main cast members have appeared in together, some of the key actors have starred in films alongside some recurring guest stars from the show. Most notable is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which starred Michael Cera and featured Mae Whitman, who played Ann Veal on Arrested Development. Yes, her. Tony Hale guest starred on an episode of Community last year, that, although it doesn’t star any other Arrested actors, was directed by frequent Arrested Development director Anthony Russo. Anthony Russo and his brother Joe directed Arrested’s superb pilot and most of the episodes from the show’s first two seasons. They’re often credited with creating the show’s innovative visual style, and they’re a very important part of Arrested Development’s history. Joe and Anthony Russo now produce and direct most episodes of Community, which I would argue shares more in common with Arrested Development than any other sitcom on the air since.

Bradford Evans is one of three or four writers living in Los Angeles.

The Next Best Thing to a Movie: 15 Arrested […]