Variety has published an extended rundown of Hollywood’s current slate of remakes. In a nutshell: it’s Attack of the ’80s, Part Two. Comedies like Private Benjamin and Short Circuit, horror flicks like Fright Night and Poltergeist, action movies like Conan the Barbarian and Robocop, corporate satires like Wall Street and Robocop… they’re all returning to a theater near you. Sorry, fans of quaint ideals like “originality” and “not beating a dead horse”: like reality TV and auto-tune, remakes are the fad that became the status quo.
So why fight it? The problem isn’t remakes, per se – it’s that all the wrong movies are getting remade. Friends, I think it’s time we help out our friends in Hollywood, and tell them which movies actually deserve a remake.
The key is to take a movie built on a delicious idea that couldn’t quite deliver on its premise; a film that’s fondly remembered, but actually awful. With that in mind, I’d like to propose a remake of a film so deeply and adorably weird that it could only be a bizarro-failure the first time around: the martial arts-horror-comedy-western-romcom-yeesh-why-not-a-musical Big Trouble in Little China.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The original has infinite charms. But compared to Escape from New York and The Thing, the other iconic (and soon-to-be-remade) collaborations between writer-director John Carpenter and badass-genius Kurt Russell, Big Trouble hasn’t aged very well. Besides being uncomfortably un-PC – everyone in Chinatown is either a sorcerer or a kung fu master – the movie never quite achieves the zany manic energy that its premise would indicate. It’s fun to talk about (that title! those costumes!) but bland and static in execution.
I’d pump up the craziness by hiring a demented director like Guillermo Del Toro or Edgar Wright, and also give the story an updated cultural twist. Instead of the fish-out-of-water protagonist being an all-American white dude, how about a lead character who’s a second-generation Asian American, with a frayed relationship with traditionalism of Big Trouble‘s fantasyland Chinatown? For a star, I’d nominate Ken Leung, who gets about three lines of dialogue every week on Lost and always knocks them out of the park.
Which ’80s film do you think deserves a remake, PopWatchers? And how would you go about modernizing/correcting the original versions? Would you like to see Paul Greengrass add a layer of shaky-cam vérité to Commando? Should Ferris Bueller get remade with Matthew Broderick playing Principal Rooney? Should Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford make a fourth Indiana Jones movie? Wait, there already was a fourth Indiana Jones movie? I must have forgotten on purpose.