We all hate needless sequels/remakes/reboots/big-screen-conversions/bastardizations of our favorite franchises, yet moviemakers in LA are pumping them out faster than ever. Can you imagine pre-ordering tickets for a remake of a played-out 80s teen franchise or a movie about a newspaper comic strip dog (The Karate Kid and Marmaduke, both scheduled for release later this year)? Me neither. It wouldn’t be quite so painful if we didn’t all know ahead of time that these movies will be terrible, but alas, the quality of these movies is often as predictable as their poor plots…and take a moment to realize what you’re saying about the quality of a movie when you know going in to it that the movie adaptation isn’t going to “live up” to the original Dukes of Hazard. But Hollywood’s erection for pre-established and thus cheaper-to-market brands clearly isn’t going away any time soon, so rather than fight the beast, I say we agree to a compromise, as I present:
Five Movies Hollywood is Allowed to (re)Make:
1) Live-action version of The Thundercats (Also applies to: Voltron, Silverhawks, Captain Planet, Johnny Quest)
This one is almost a no-brainer (so much so that there’s already a script in the works, according to an industry friend of mine). It’s got everything you want from a potential 80s cartoon reboot: it’s a well-known franchise (but not SO well known that its fans will care if you totally destroy/rewrite the story), it’s got plenty of action, iconic characters to build a story around, fun visuals, a couple of roles you could cast hot girls in (Cheetara), built-in comic relief (Snarf and the Wiley twins), and an insanely cool/recognizable logo. Toss in plenty of merchandising options and maybe even a 3-D version, and baby, you got yourself a stew going. I bet this one hits theaters summer 2012, and I dare you to bet against me.
2) Conan the Barbarian (Also applies to: The Beastmaster, Commando, Missing in Action)
There are two types of terrible when it comes to resurrecting deceased franchises: the first is the sort of terrible/cheesy movie/show that is bad by our modern day standards, but was actually passable for its original era (like Starsky & Hutch, The A Team) and shouldn’t be messed with; the second is the kind of movie that is bad nowadays, but was just as terrible when it was first released (RoboCop franchise, all Chuck Norris projects). Only the latter of those two types should be turned into big-screen projects, the former typically has too much legitimate sentimental attachment for its audience and relies too heavily on recreating already-used stories or forcing cameos or doing other things that destroy remakes. Conan the Barbarian is not one of those movies. Everyone recognizes the name, everyone recognizes the imagery, but nobody knows what it’s actually about. Experiment: ask the person nearest you (or text someone if you’re alone) if they’ve heard of Conan the Barbarian. The answer will be yes. Now ask that same person to name one plot element of the movie besides “Arnold Schwarzenegger beats people up while in a loin cloth.” They will not be able to. This is the exact sort of movie Hollywood remakers thrive on, and none of us will care when they destroy it, because we didn’t care to begin with.
3) New Beverly Hills Cop sequel (Also applies to: 48 Hours)
Of the brands I’ve listed so far, this is the only one where the source material is actually good. Beverly Hills Cop is a really funny, iconic movie, that was some of Eddie Murphy’s best work. So why make another? Because we need old Eddie back almost as badly as Eddie Murphy needs old Eddie back. If I have to sit through another trailer of E-Murph recycling tired jokes in a fat suit or taking a stab at family comedy, I am going to weep blood and sell my bright purple, skintight imitation leather jumpsuit. Beverly Hills Cop was Eddie in his prime, but there’s enough room to make a good movie there without forcing a bad story (unlike if someone tried to sequelize Coming to America). Hopefully getting the ol’ gang together would produce better results than the recent trainwreck of that Indian Jones sequel.
4) Max Headroom (Also applies to: Robot Jox (google it), Exosquad, M.A.N.T.I.S)
This little-known, short-lived British short-film turned American tv show has all the “steampunk” vibe of the Matrix or the Watchmen, but with a vague enough story that you could essentially write it into anything you wanted to. Hollywood would hop on the visuals and its cult status among 80s kids, viewers would be drawn to its “everything that comes from Europe is inherently cooler” vibe. Match made in heaven. It’d be a catchy flick, and if it was written well enough, could make you re-ask some serious and thought-provoking questions about the nature of Big Brother and the continual integration of humans and technology.
5) Three Men and a Baby (Also applies to: Weekend at Bernie’s; Crocodile Dundee; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids)
This movie has been begging to be remade for a few years now, and tell me honestly that you wouldn’t shell out $15 to see Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, and Joel McHale goof off with a baby on board for 90-100 minutes. I know a couple of my writer friends have already been tapped to write scripts based on this movie, so why not cut out the middleman and just rewrite the original product? In fact, I think I’m gonna go start working on a draft for this right now.
Ok Hollywood, there you go. Those are fifteen-ish franchises that meet all your requirements for awful remakes, yet none of us will shed any tears if you butcher a RoboCop sequel/remake. Now in exchange, here are the five movies (and their doppelgangers) that you have to promise to leave alone.
Five Movies Hollywood Must LEAVE ALONE
1) ET (Also applies to: The Never-Ending Story franchise, Back to the Future series)
The story was wrapped up too tightly, and that little guy with the glowing finger is too close to our hearts for you to get anywhere near this franchise without doing permanent emotional (and box office) damage. Luckily Steven Spielberg has way too much money and self respect to ever sell out our favorite 80s alien like that, but I also know how much he loves any excuse to throw together a 300 million dollar epic just to pass the time.
2) Big (Also applies to: Teen-Wolf, Short Circuit, Ferris Buehler’s Day Off)
Sometimes movies captivate us with a magic that is even more inexplicable than their ridiculous premise. These are those movies (ok, except for maybe Short Circuit). I’m sure that somewhere out there, The Rock’s agent is pushing so hard for this movie that he’s slipped into Lamaze breathing, but the studios owe it to us and the 80s to leave this one alone so we can cherish it as is.
3) He-Man and The Masters of the Universe (Also applies to: CareBears, Alf, Sailor Moon, Police Academy series)
Hey, remember several paragraphs ago when I said that it was ok to remake/sequelize (can I officially get credit for inventing the word sequelize?) bad movies that already started out bad in their heyday? Well there are some franchises that are too bad even for that treatment. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing an episode of the original He-Man after the age of eight, then you know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, this one isn’t a hypothetical scenario as Hollywood has been trying for the better part of three decades to get this brand to catch on with any group other than eight-year-old boys — quite unsuccessfully, I might add. Despite a seemingly-endless train of tv adaptations, spin-offs, and one B-movie already in existence, word on the street is that there is yet another He-Man project in the works. And you know what, if studios want to dump hundreds of millions of dollars down the toilet, that’s their business…but I’d just appreciate it if they didn’t do their business on my movie/tv screens.
4) Michael Jackson’s music video, Thriller (Also applies to: Flashdance, Home Alone, Mad Max)
I wish I could say I was making this up, but sadly I cannot. I’ve heard murmurings from a few different places (most legitimately Variety) that someone out there (probably LaToya or Tito Jackson) is pushing for a feature-length adaptation of the universally famous Michael Jackson music video, Thriller. Look, I am the king of poor taste and crass timing, but this is too soon and too stupid of an idea even by my barely-there standards. If a remake of this music video goes half as poorly as the remake of “We Are the World” did, then it seriously might be quicker, easier, cheaper, and less offensive just to dig up MJ’s autopsied body and take a dump on it literally, rather than do the same metaphorically to one of the greatest videos/moments in entertainment history.
5) All Looney Tunes properties (Also applies to: most Muppets properties, and all Disney characters created prior to 1990 — note: does not apply to ANY Hanna-Barbera materials)
If Space Jam and Bugs Bunny’s 1001 Rabbit Tales weren’t enough to convince you that Looney Tunes should be left alone in the same way Michael Jordan should’ve left acting/baseball alone and R. Kelly should’ve left children/children’s movies alone, then pop in the dvd from Looney Tunes: Back in Action (Blockbuster will have PLENTY of copies on hand, trust me) and watch Brendan Frasier give the kind of performance that makes Pauly Shore look like a Julliard alum. You know it’s a truly poor movie when you’re being outperformed by bad voice-actors and a green screen. All we can hope is that Hollywood doesn’t make the same mistake
twice thrice …a fourth time.
Make no mistake, I truly hope that none of the remakes/sequels on either list ever get made, and that none of us have to live in a world that promotes Big 2: Even Bigger; Three Men and an Abortion; E.E.T., The Extra Extra Terrestrial; or The (Literally) Never-Ending Story; but I know better. All we can do is count on what little decency is left in Hollywood to only maim the movies that are our acquaintances, instead of murdering the franchises that have become our best friends.
Until you see me in Alvin & The Chipmunks 3: Deez Nutz, I bid you adieu.
Author’s note: This post is a result of Sunday afternoons my senior year of college, where I would go to the local Caribou with my roommate Nick and sit down to write out (by hand) scripts and movie ideas that I thought would be worth making. The three top ideas I had for adaptations were: Speed Racer, The Watchmen, and Captain Planet & The Planeteers. Now I’m not saying that those are the best ideas in the world, or that the movies they resulted in are even any good, I’m merely pointing out that five years ago these were the films I most thought we’d see Hollywood make by now, and two out of three says that I’m probably on the right track. So who wants to hire me to pen Captain Planet? I’ve already got the rings.