Is it Right to Remake?

       As many of you have noticed recently, sequels are all the rage right now. You may also wonder why so many of the movies coming out these days sound familiar. There are also a bunch of remakes coming our way.   

       First, let me say that I am not opposed to a good remake—good being the operative word. In fact, some of my favorite movies are remakes.

       I LOVE the 1988 film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Michael Caine, Steve Martin, and Glenne Headly. It makes me smile until my cheeks hurt. It’s a remake of the 1964 film, A Bedtime Story, starring Marlon Brando, David Niven and Shirley Jones. Though the first version was alright, the ending of the remake is a cherry on top.

       I even prefer the recent Ocean’s Eleven to the original. I know the original starred the Rat Pack, and who can beat that? Well, it took a full roster of A-List actors to do it, but I certainly think they rival the original. And again, the end of the remake is exponentially more satisfying than the first Ocean’s film.

       So what am I complaining about? Remakes are wonderful. Well, not always.

       Consider The Karate Kid. I adore Jackie Chan. Everybody does, I think. But the love we all have for Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio keeps us from loving this new version. Plus, the whole Kung Fu instead of Karate thing messes with me.

       What about taking an old black and white movie and remaking it? Maybe if you give it more time…

       My answer to that is His Girl Friday. It’s a 1940 film based on the play, The Front Page, and it starred Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy. It is classic Hollywood at its best. Perfect balance of everything right in a movie. Then in 1988 along came Switching Channels, starring Kathleen Turner, Burt Reynolds and Christopher Reeve. It was not so great. Oh, it was cute enough, but paled in comparison to the original.

       And then I have to mention The Truth About Charlie. This 2002 film was an attempt to remake my all-time favorite film, Charade. Charade touted a stellar cast with Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, James Coburn, George Kennedy and Walter Mathau. The Truth About Charlie featured Thandie Newton, Mark Wahlberg, and Tim Robbins—doing his best Mathau impression. It was tragic. While the original was witty, romantic and suspenseful, the remake was dull and predictable.

       A few of the remakes coming soon to a theatre near you include Conan the Barbarian, Footloose, The Thing, Red Dawn, and yes, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. There are others, but I’m getting woozy already. My only solace in this list is that Casablanca, Gone With The Wind, and My Fair Lady are all absent.

       There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of films out there with amazing stories and rich characters, which for one reason or another—budget, timing, whatever—were overlooked, and deserve to be retold. Alfred Hitchcock even remade one of his own films, The Man Who Knew Too Much, because he was never fully satisfied with the first one. The remake, which is far better known, stars Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day.

       I’m all for remakes, when they take a film and make it better. I’m just having a hard time finding those types these days. I know Hollywood wants a built-in money maker, and often they think a remake will do it for them. I just wish it would do it for us, too. I guess we’ll see soon enough.

       That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!

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