What is it with the need to remake every good movie and t.v. show that I grew up with? Is Hollywood really getting that lazy? The thing that kills me about the new version of Footloose is that it seems that they didn't even bother rewriting the script! Taking Hollywood laziness to a whole new low.
In the trailer I saw at the movie theater, the characters all have the same names, Ren is still cruising around in the same old VW Bug, there's the same angry gymnastic dance scene, the same closeups of the dancing Chuck Taylors, the same menacing boyfriend, the same "teaching Willard to dance" montage, the same "needy Ariel screaming in front of a train" and the same exact soundtrack (only rerecorded by younger artists!) They even showed the exact same scene of the cop flipping the driver's license underneath Ren's chin, "Watch that attitude son!"
The only things they seemed to update is that Ariel's hair is now a darker shade of blond, Willard is half as manly, Ren's hairdresser is trying to intentionally do to Kenny Wormald's hair what Kevin Bacon's hair does on its own and Sarah Jessica Parker's character is now of a different race. I may have seen a little bit of hip-hop dancing too. Whoopee!
Why does Hollywood regard the sacredness of certain movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Some Like it Hot, The Godfather... but, sees the need to remake every thing else?
Here are my rules for what you're allowed to remake:
- Anything we didn't bother watching the first time around.
- Anything first made in a language not of my own dialect.
- Anything that originally earned a less than two-star review.
- Anything dated enough to now be considered cheesy or camp.
- Anything you're going to modernize so much that it doesn't bear any resemblance to the original.
- If you're going "spoof", that's always okay. (Think Austin Powers, Airplane, Naked Gun...) It may not always be good (Spy Hard) but it is allowed.
- Any horror movie, because everybody does it and I'm not going to watch either version anyway.
Who did the remake right?
- Charlie's Angels who followed rules #4 and #5. I would usually say you should wait at least 40 years to remake something that was so popular the first time around. But anything made in the 1970s (or by Aaron Spelling, for that matter) gets an immediate free pass. The cheese factor on this decade automatically grants you a 25 year head start. The story lines, fight scenes, special effects and art direction of tweaking the three female lead concept to be appropriately one blond, one brunette and one redhead all worked for me. I even loved all the sequels.
- Gone in 60 Seconds - I never even knew there was an original (made in 1974), so I'm guessing this follows rule #1 and most probably rule #3. I don't know what it is about this movie, but they did everything right if they were specifically seeking me as an audience member. I can't even tell you how many times I watched it. Great soundtrack too!
- Mr. Deeds - I'm LOLing at myself right now for making this choice. But it worked! It was well over the 40-year mark from the original Frank Capra Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). I would even argue rules #5 and #6. I guess adding Adam Sandler as the lead in any project updates the humor to an immediately recognizable modern level and it's goofiness we can swap for spoofiness. I was actually surprised to go back and watch the original after the remake's release and recognize a few of the original scenes that they kept around (like playing the "echo echo echo" game in the foyer. Was Gary Cooper actually his generation's Sandler?)
- Ocean's Eleven - Adhering to rules #1, #3 and #5. I went through a major Rat Pack phase in the the 1990's, but never did bother seeing the original Ocean's Eleven that was made in 1960. I don't think it was even available on VHS until after the 21st century remake. But, IMDB gave the 1960 version a score of 6.4 out of 10 which, according to my high school report card key, is a D grade (barely passing). Safe to remake. Even Sinatra would approve!
- Scent of a Woman (orig. Profumo di donna) See rule #2. See Al Pacino's Oscar.
- You've Got Mail - Made 58 years after the original (1940's The Shop Around the Corner), rule #5 is in place and you all now see how this game is played.
I wanted to also throw a bone to the 2005 film Bewitched which starred Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, but I was worried I'd be flogged. Although I'd still argue it followed rules #5 and #6 in such a clever way of being a movie about a television studio that is trying to remake the hit series. In it, they accidentally cast an actual witch (Nicole Kidman) and hilarity ensues. People stayed away from the theaters in droves because of the sanctity in their minds of the original. But, I'd beg you to give it a try because I think alot got lost in the concept of what this remake's intention was. The supporting cast alone is worth the 102 minutes of your time. Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth and Steve Carrell, they all got it and came on board! Maybe I'm just a sucker for colorful set decorating and fun wardrobes. (Also explaining my wearing out my copies of Clueless and Legally Blonde.) I think I just convinced myself to watch this one again tonight.
Anyhoo... That is how it's done. Not like Parent Trap, which wasn't outdated enough for a remake and was wonderful the first time around. (Freaky Friday, however, gets my pass. Rules #4 and #5 intact.) I wasn't pleased with the remake of Hairspray either. The original was a critical darling and there was no reason for it to be redone other than to include the new songs from the Broadway show (and there was no reason whatsoever for me to ever lay my eyes on John Travolta in drag!) I believe Tim Burton had intentions of using rule #4 as his explanation of 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But, instead of removing the campiness/creepiness of the 1971 original he somehow managed to multiply that quotient by 103 percent.
So those are the rules. If it was perfect the first time, don't remake it. If you can't follow rules #1-7, don't remake it. If it once starred Audrey Hepburn, don't remake it. If it was originally directed by Alfred Hitchcock, hands off. If was originally directed by John Hughes, don't you dare!
And, if I find out on October 14 that the new Footloose's closing scene begins with Ren running into the prom screaming, "I thought this was a party? LET'S DANCE!!!" while being showered in glitter, I'll be inviting all the executives from Spyglass Entertainment, MTV Films and Paramount Pictures to line up before me to be consecutively smacked across the face.