Thursday, July 21, 2005

Movie Remakes-- Rules for Doing them

There should be certain rules for whether a film should be remade or not. Some remakes are brilliant, either improvements or "re-imaginings" of the original. Many are redundant and pointless. "Bad News Bears" may be saved by its brilliant casting of Billy-Bob-Joe-John-Boy Thornton as Coach Buttermaker, but was it really necessary? I'm not sure if I will shell out a sawbuck to find out.

My rules for remakes:
1) Foreign movies ok-- too many people refuse to see movies with subtitles. Their loss? But wait, remake it in English with Tom Hanks (Man with One Red Shoe) or Ted Danson (Three Mena dn a Baby, Cousins) and you are covered! Even if the movie is practically a shot-for-shot faded copy, (like "Point of No Return," remake of "La Femme Nikita,") or a last gasp of a fading team (Billy Wilder/Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau's "Buddy Buddy," and inferior remake of "A Pain in the A**," starring the incomparable Jacques Brel), you can justify it based on the fact that nobody has seen the original except me.
If I sound like a foreign film snob there, too bad.

2) Bad Movies-- only if there was aredeeming quality to pull out of it. Ocean's 11 was total crap with the Rat Pack, but a lot of fun, so why not?

3) More Faithful to original source-- "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" hews closer to the book than the original film version, with the only exceptions being the parts that are most picked apart by critics-- no coincidence.

4) Brilliant auteur-- Again, Tim Burton ("Charlie..."), whose visual style and off-centered sensibility are perfectly suited for any Roald Dahl story.

5) Timelessness-- Classic novels, Shakespeare, etc., are always ripe for a fresh version. Another version of Othello? Bring it on? Jane Eyre with barn animals? Film it!

6) Do-over, this time with a budget-- Robert Rodriguez remade his own "El Mariachi" as "Desperado." Sam Raimi remade "Evil Dead" as "Evil Dead 2"-- Guy Ritchie remade "Lock Stock & 2 Smking Barrels" as "Snatch" Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad

When not to remake:
1) Modern update-- the worst reason of all. Did we really need a remake of "The Champ?" The original was the perfect four-hanky movie. Jackie Cooper could still beat the stuffing out of Ricky Schroeder even now that he's dead. If you don't know what I'm talking about, off the the video store with you!

2) Vanity Project-- Bill Murray, I'm glad you wanted to make "The Razor's Edge" Now do something funny. "Swept Away?" Broom please (though the original was foreign)

3) Artistic Myopia-- The original "Cape Fear" was one of the creepiest movies ever made. I refused to see the remake, no matter who was involved.

4) Hey, let's put actors from the original in small roles-- "Cape Fear" again-- absolutely insulting


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