You love your Grandma, right? She’s the best. She gives you hugs and money and bakes the best apple pie you have ever put in your mouth. Why would anyone change her? Then, one day, you come home and your parents are all, “Hey, Grandma was outdated. So, we did a reboot. She’s still your Grandma, but now she’s more appealing to the younger Generation.” “But, I liked the old Grandma”, you protest. No one listens. Old Grandma is still around, although no one but you really cares or remembers her because they are all dazzled by the new Grandma. And this conversation happens. “Have you seen Grandma?” you ask. “Uh, which one, the old one or the new Grandma?” someone might reply, right before you throat punch them and scream, “Of course the OLD Grandma! There is ONLY ONE Grandma.” Kind of like Highlander. There can only be one true Grandma. Well the same goes for movies. Well, for me anyway. Sounds extreme, right?
This is how I feel when Hollywood does remakes. Maybe I’m just taking it too personally. But, for me, it is personal. When I love a film, I don’t do so casually. I mean, I really love it. It becomes a part of my life. I can recite all the words. I know all the trivia. I love all the actors and the performances are inspired and honestly, I just couldn’t imagine anyone doing it better.
But, somewhere there is someone imagining it being done better.
Take, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as an example. I could not tell you how old I was when I first saw this film, because I can’t recall a time have not seen it. What I can tell you, for sure, this is my favourite movie of all time. Countless viewings, and every time I see it’s coming on, I get excited all over again. Maybe I love it because it’s a throw back to my childhood and a reminder of simpler times, perhaps. Or it might just be the fact I love it so much, because it’s awesome. What’s not to love? It’s got a river of chocolate! It’s got suspense. (The riverboat scene is a real nail-bitter, especially to the eyes of a little kid who had not yet tripped acid) It’s got humor and heart, but best of all, it had Gene Wilder! How could you not love Gene Wilder in that role? I mean, he became Willy Wonka. To me, that’s who he was and always would be. Sure, I’d seen Young Frankenstein”, Blazing Saddles and all the movies with Richard Pryor, but it’s his passionate, yet heartfelt portrayal of the kooky candy maker that will always be at the forefront for me. I even cry at the end, when gives Charlie everything he ever wanted. Who couldn’t love this movie?
Tim Burton. That’s who. It wasn’t enough that he wanted to remake the movie, he actually set out to destroy the first one. (Apparently, Roald Dahl wasn’t too much a fan of the first movie either, but what author is ever satisfied with a film adaptation of their work? Ask Stephen King what he thought of Kubrick’s version of ‘The Shining’.)
After declaring Tim Burton “dead to me”, I set about on a self-imposed mission to pretend Tim Burton’s version never happened. It simply did not exist in my Universe. People have told me the remake, “isn’t that bad“. I’ll never know. I found no fault in the original and therefore, saw no need to replace it.
And if you need another example, of which there are countless atrocities, how about Arthur. If ever there were a film that was just perfect from start to finish, it would be Arthur. Dudley Moore and Sir John Gielgud, I mean, come on! Even Liza rocked the hell out of her role. The character is a wealthy, good for nothing, drunk. And Dudley Moore made him lovable and endearing. I was a kid when I first fell in love with this movie, and while I might not have completely gotten it at the time, I still found it hysterical. It was that fantastic, infectious laugh. Also, with the 1981 version, you get that wonderful Burt Bacharach soundtrack, and the Christopher Cross singing, If you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love. Now, after hearing that song, who doesn’t want to go straight to NYC and figure out how to wedge yourself between the city and the moon? I can’t think of a better place. As I got older, I grew to love the movie more. Then Russell Brand comes along and smashes it all to hell.
I can’t totally blame him. He didn’t write it. He just accepted the role. But, the way I look at it, he could have turned it down. He could have said, “No. I will in no way be able to improve upon such a flawless work of art.” Alas, he didn’t say “No.” And, now I kinda have to hate him. Guilt by association.
The worst part is, again, people are trying to convince me, “It’s not that bad.” But, I’m stubborn. I figure, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just leave it alone. Part of the reason I refuse to indulge remakes, is I don’t want to give Hollywood the satisfaction, and also, it’s kind of how at a funeral, you don’t want to see the body because you want to remember them how they were before. I don’t want my fond memories ruined because some executive somewhere, with pockets just overflowing with excess money to spend making a movie, decides instead of something new, why not destroy something people already love.
I do have a friend who gets excited about remakes. His favourite film, is White Chicks. Clearly, he’s insane.
My point is, why does Hollywood feel the need to take a film, which is held so dear to so many, and update it usually by compromising the integrity of the original? Did we really have to remake Red Dawn? Or The Karate Kid? Or freaking, Footloose?
Why can’t we give the same respect to films? And why can’t Hollywood focus some of that money on new ideas. I know a lot of struggling screenwriters (myself included) who would love for you to sit down and take a look at what we’ve been working on. But, you’re too busy reinventing the wheel by remaking, Dirty Dancing. Yeah, I know. It’s happening, people. You can’t stop it.
Other films you can look forward to Hollywood chewing up and regurgitating all over screens for your viewing pleasure:
Overboard This movie, to my recollection, was never considered a big hit. Sure, we all love it now. And I admit, when I see it’s coming on, if I have nothing else to do, I’ll watch it again. But, never have I thought, wow, if only it weren’t Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in these roles. There are parts I still find hysterical and can watch over and over, but it’s only because of the perfected silliness that has made Goldie Hawn’s career. Here’s a fun look at Hollywood chasing its tail. The film, Overboard was loosely based on a 1974 Spanish film called Swept Away. It was pretty well received. However, if that title sounds familiar to you, it’s because yes, Guy Ritchie and Madonna made a very poorly received remake of the original Spanish movie. This has been done to death guys. I’m calling it. It’s over. Adding to the death toll is Madonna’s film career. Please. Just stop it. Thank you.
Drop Dead Fred This is another one I’m taking quite personally, as it’s also one of my favourite films. Rik Mayall can’t be outdone. Apparently though, Russell Brand is going to try, and as he did with Arthur fall drastically short.
War Games Sure, now with technology so far advanced since way back in 1983, I’m sure they could really make this into something that will blow all our minds, and it will probably be in 3D. But, just watch the original. It’s stripped down and honest, and back then, it actually scared the hell out of me, and gave me a good healthy fear of hacking into government data bases.
There are so many more. Maybe even 100. I could list them all, but then I would be depressed and might go drown myself in sea of nostalgia.
I feel like, with the remakes, films that I have grown up with, parts of my history, as going to be lost and forgotten as soon as these new films take their place. Did you know Father of the Bride is actually a remake of a 1950, Spencer Tracy film? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, chances are, you didn’t. Or, at least, a good majority. And future generations won’t either. They will only reference the Steve Martin film, which by its own merit, is funny, and Martin Short playing an ambiguously, foreign wedding planner who has unusual pronunciations of certain words, is always good for a laugh. But, when you think about the fact, somewhere, there is another film, a film that was just as good, is now long forgotten. It kind of breaks my heart a little.
And so this is why, when I hear another one of my favourite films is up for remake, a tiny piece of my past dies. Maybe I just want to hold onto what I already know is wonderful, for just a little while longer. Is that too much to ask, Hollywood? Is it?