I read over on Tor.com that Disney is proceeding with remaking yet another 80s movie remake, this time the victim being “Splash.” The original featured two veteran actors – Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah – when they were extremely young and fresh-faced. It was a cute love story with moments of humor, especially as provided by John Candy, as Hanks’s lecherous older brother, and Eugene Levy, as a kooky scientist determined to prove the existence of mermaids.
I read this and kind of thought, “Meh. Okay.”
There was a lot of controversy this summer over the remake of the classic, “Ghostbusters.” I was annoyed – more so at the idea of a remake than the gender swap-out of the cast. I am in the camp that there are some movies you just don’t mess with, because the originals are classics and you don’t muck with classics. If I was leery before, director Paul Feig’s various comments, labeling anyone who criticized the decision to remake the film as basement-dwelling trolls – and worse – turned me against it completely.
And I wasn’t the only one, apparently. As the site The Numbers reports here, the film has cleared about $158M at the end of July, just a bit more than it’s production budget of $144M. Advertising and promotion still have to be recouped. I put most of this on Feig, for striking out and alienating potential audience members. But anyway….
So, a remake of “Splash.” In this case, it will be the male as the merman, and the girl as the cynical, world-worn human who gets their life uplifted by a little interspecies romance. Part of me wanted to say, “They are just using any excuse to make a gender statement, with the swap.” After all, this is Disney, the overseer of Marvel Comics, which has pretty much fucked up their entire comic line in the interest of some diversity quest.
But after that reaction, I went. “Meh. It’s Splash. Who cares?” And I think that is the crux of the argument.
We only care about the things that are important to us. In this case, I am a fan of 80s movies. I’m sure it is mostly nostalgia, as seeing those again catapults me back to the days of being a teenager. But even then, there are only certain ones that matter. For example:
- They remade Footloose. As a stand-alone movie, I thought it was awful. I mean, how can you have Footloose without Kevin Bacon? But I was never really upset about…more of a head shake at the foolishness.
- They are trying to remake Dirty Dancing. Per above, without Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, it seems a waste of time. But I was never a big fan of the movie, so whatever.
- They remade Poltergeist. Blarg. Again, just a bad movie, without half the terror of the original. But again, whatever.
Then there are these:
- Red Dawn. Seriously, what the fuck, Hollywood? If you didn’t grow up in the Cold War, if you didn’t remember the original airing of The Day After, then yeah the original Red Dawn wouldn’t mean much to you. But North Korea? Are you serious? Fail. And by the way, nice job pussing out and not making the bad guys Chinese, so you could distribute the movie there.
- Total Recall. The remake was a half-baked abortion that never should have seen the light of day. While neither were particularly faithful to Phillip K Dick’s original story, I thought the original was more faithful. It not only captured the feel better (by invoking Mars and interplanetary conspiracy) but had better chemistry between the cast members. The remake was stilted and – surprise – relied too much on special effects.
- Nightmare on Elm Street. No, just … no. Not scary, not interesting, not original.
As I compare the two lists, I see that the second set were movies I genuinely loved and appreciated when I was a kid. The others, not nearly as much. As I said, I think we care a lot more about the near and dear to our heart. And I think Ghostbusters has a lot more “Near-and-dear” fans than Splash does.
Did someone come with the gender swap because they wanted to make a point? Maybe. Are they looking to objectify men in exchange for all the objectification women endure – you know, give ’em a taste of their own medicine? Maybe. Do they have a fresh and original spin on the old material? Maybe. Don’t care, to all three. It’s just not important to me.
If anything, I am offended that Hollywood seems to be so intellectually-bankrupt that they can’t make anything original any more. What comes out, these days? Remakes, adaptations (comics and otherwise), Pixar/Dreamworks kid stuff … and that’s about it. There are a few writers and directors, like Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarentino still doing original work but they are exceptions. Hollywood need to find its creative mojo again.
I hear they remaking The Magnificent Seven and I am nervous.
(Muse: You know the original Magnificent Seven was itself a remake, right?)
Yes, and even though Seven Samurai was a great movie in its own right, the two are separate enough to not draw direct comparison. You know, I actually liked the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair better than the original. How will Magnificent Seven go?