"The '90s are totally fair game,” so says one exec of the next phase of the remake craze in Tuesday’s rather depressing article in the Hollywood Reporter.
Running through the list of remakes scheduled is like a hit-list of Generation X’s favorite 1970s and ‘80s flicks — which is precisely why thirty- and fortysomething suits, writers, directors and produced are seduced into “playing” with these properties.
Complaining about this is, of course, pointless, because these revamps are cheaper to develop and somehow have osmotic brand awareness among a target demographic who weren’t born when they first hit cinemas.
(Question: What happens when we’ve run through the roster of past hits? Do we run back to the start and remake the remakes?)
Anyway, as I’ve said before, why not focus more on flicks with good ideas that weren’t done right the first time around, rather than simply retelling already brilliantly told stories simply to make a buck?
To that end, a modest proposal.
Before plundering the likes of “The Silence of the Lambs.” “Reservoir Dogs,” “The Piano,” “Groundhog Day” or “GoodFellas,” how about retooling these 13 movie misses from the 1990s into something audiences might see and enjoy in the 20-tweens?
“Memoirs of an Invisible Man”: Great book, blah movie, chiefly because John Carpenter thought he was making a comedy and Chevy Chase wanted serious dramatics. But this is perfect for a more focused adaptation and update.
“Quick Change”: This cracking heist comedy starring Bill Murray and Geena Davis never found the audience it deserved. A Gen Y version might. Cast Michael Cera and Ellen Page, with Jonah Hill in the Randy Quaid role.
“Joe Versus The Volcano”: This terminal illness, self-sacrifice comedy with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan was DOA first time around. Try again, perhaps with Jason Segel and Mila Kunis, who had good tropical-location chemistry in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
“Darkman”: Before he rocked the world with the “Spider-Man” franchise, Sam Raimi took on this comic-book-style anti-hero flick about a scientist wreaking revenge. It didn’t quite work then but now, in the age of Rorshach and the Comedian, it might just do. And, on the subjects of misjudged superhero/comic movies of the 1990s, see also: “The Phantom,” “Judge Dredd,” “The Rocketeer.”
“Arachnophobia”: This Frank Marshall-directed horror comedy about spider invasion erred on the side of laughs over scares. Low-wattage casting didn’t help. See also: “Screamers.”
“King Ralph”: American doofus becomes King of England after convenient all-royals-die accident. This was mediocre first time around, despite John Goodman’s charms. But Apatow-ise this sucker with some raunch-com and weed-huffing and watch the “Superbad” fans bow down. Or, cast Kevin James and watch multiplex millions pile up.
“Clean Slate”: Great idea — detective whose memory is wiped clean every day — but executed with a miscast Dana Carvey. Toughen it up a bit — perhaps lure Paul Rudd – and it’s “Memento” but with, you know, laughs.
“Drop Dead Fred”: What’s not to like about the premise of a young woman calling on her anarchic childhood imaginary friend to smite her enemies? Rik Mayall in the original, for one.
“Airheads”: Despite Brendan Fraser, Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi, this didn’t bring the funny. But the concept — a desperate band taking over a radio station — is platinum.
“Candyman”: It has its adherents but despite some fantastically scary moments it doesn’t quite hold together. The idea — stare in the mirror, repeat his name and he appears — is chilling and and deserves another look.
“Innocent Blood”: John Landis’ offbeat, dark sex comedy about vampires and mobsters never quite gelled back in the day. Now, though, in the wake of “The Sopranos” and “True Blood,” it’s got hit writ all over it.
“Jetsons: The Movie”: Add 3D, CGI, some jokes and a voice cast and you’ve got, well, a space family. Still, it worked well enough for “Meet the Robinsons.”
“Life Stinks!”: Mel Brooks’ painful comedy about a billionaire playing poor for a bet didn’t pay off during the 1991 recession. In the age of the GFC, it might be a better box office gamble — especially if it turned our movie Madoff had gone bust for real while being a faux-hobo.