For years we have watched as studios have constantly churned out remakes of 80s movies like Fright Night, Clash of the Titans, Nightmare on Elm Street and The Karate Kid, but the release of Total Recall brings us into whole new territory: the 90s. The original adaptation, directed by Paul Verhoeven, came out in 1990, and the remake could very well be the excuse studios need to start mining the rest of the decade for properties to reboot.
While obviously there are some titles that even Hollywood execs know not to touch with the remake pole – such as Schindler’s List, Titanic or Pulp Fiction - there are others that they might be interested in taking a second crack at. And we’re here to tell them that some titles are off limits.
The Cinema Blend team has once again gotten together for a new group feature, this time the subject being “90s Movies That Hollywood Must Not Remake.” Read on for our selections below and then head into the comments section to let us know which 90s titles you never want to see get remade.
The magic behind Heat is easy to explain, and easy to see. You unite two intense veteran actors with a director who's skilled with action, set them loose in a plot about a criminal and a cop whose lives become inextricably linked, and let the sparks fly. The idea is irresistible, and it made Michael Mann's Heat a modest success when it opened in 1995, and even more highly regarded throughout the years. But Heat exists in a gray area of being well-liked by some but not everyone- i.e., it's in the perfect position to be remade. And yet, even though Al Pacino and Robert De Niro weren't anywhere near the top of their game in Heat, and even though the bank robber plot could be easily updated for a new film, a remake of Heat would lose the idiosyncrasies of both actors that makes it so special. You could hire Daniel Day-Lewis and Philip Seymour Hoffman, or any hugely talented actors, and it still wouldn't have the yellowed world-weariness that sets Heat apart from other thrillers. It would be a generic bank heist thriller, and could actually have the power to ruin our memory of the original.
We understand that this remake already has been announced, but the fact that no real progress has been made – no cast, no director – means it’s not too late to pull the plug. Point Break isn’t an original concept. Police officers have been going undercover to infiltrate crime rings for decades. But so much of what made Point Break work wasn’t the surfing or the skydiving. It was the yin-yang chemistry between federal agent Keanu Reeves and Zen master Patrick Swayze. For most of Point Break, it becomes clear that bank-robbing Bodhi knows of Utah’s dual identity, and is willing to play along with the ruse to see how long it takes for the former football star to betray his clean-cut ideals and come over to the metaphorical Dark Side. It was an internal struggle waged between two stubborn soul mates, which is why Utah allowing Bodhi to surf his final wave at the end of Kathryn Bigelow’s classic was the perfect gesture of bro-mantic spirituality. News that a potential Point Break remake wants to capitalize on the rise of extreme sports proves that producers don’t get the story’s rich subtext. They just want righteous stunts. In honor of the late Swayze, they should leave well enough alone.
Once upon a time, in a land called Hollywood, a handsome prince(-ish) fell in love with an exceptionally pretty prostitute with amazing hair and thigh-high boots. He paid for her services. They watched I Love Lucy and went to the opera. She went shopping. They fell in love. And after some polo and a fight with a handsy Jason Alexander, they lived happily ever after. There's some part of me that thinks this premise might actually be adaptable for a remake, either as a raunchy borderline spoofish comedy or a really depressing drama with a less happy ending (more in the vein of Leaving Las Vegas), but as anything in between, which is where we could probably categorize the original, I don't see the magic happening for today's audience. It's hard enough, in retrospect, to believe a rom-com could be developed to focus on a business mogul and a working girl and manage to be such a huge success, beloved by many for years to follow. Not only do I not see it working again, but my fear is that any attempts to rekindle the magic with a remake might only sully the memory of the original "fairytale."
The only guarantee when it comes to a remake is the inevitable comparison to the original and, while nine Oscar nominations probably ensure that no one takes another shot at L.A. Confidential, there are more reasons than just Academy acclaim for why Curtis Hanson’s take on the third novel in James Ellroy’s “L.A. Quartet” should remain uh, unremade. Since we're speaking of Oscars, it did win two of them - Kim Basinger’s Best Actress as well as Hanson and Brian Helgeland’s Adapted Screenplay - not to mention launch the careers of Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce. Okay, the latter is just a Golden Globe nominee but the award pedigree resumes with the rest of the irreplaceable ensemble including Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito and David Strathairn. And even if you could somehow repeat the stellar casting, there is no matching the deft adaptation which condenses 500 pages of Ellroy’s hard boiled historical fiction into a brawny and brainy film noir. Good luck to anyone ‘going back to the book’ to have a try. “Rolo Tomassi.” There’s still “The Big Nowhere” and “White Jazz.” Oh, and feel free to remake The Black Dahlia.
10 Things I Hate About You
As a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew set in a high school stuffed with crush-worthy young stars, 10 Things I Hate About You may seem like a no-brainer remake on paper. But in reality, that perspective overlooks what really made this feature work. First, it took a plotline that is disconcerting in a modern context, and found a way to make it endearing. No longer is the shrieking Kate bullied into submission by her obnoxious husband, instead Kat is a headstrong girl with a broken heart who connects to another guarded social misfit, played by Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger respectively with an electric chemistry that still shines. Then, beyond making Shakespeare relevant to teens, 10 Things also acutely captured the teen zeitgeist of the late 90s, where there was an edge of jadedness that covered an ardent idealism. Besides, if remade today, a screenwriter would be required to inject social media and cell phones into the narrative, and scenes of teens begging to be texted is painful, every time. Plus, could anyone ever top the boundless charisma of Ledger's bleacher-stomping rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You?" No. So why bother?
The Truman Show
Technically reality television has been around for decades, but never has it been more popular than it is now. It’s practically impossible to go through the primetime lineup on network television during the week without running into some kind of reality programing and even cable networks that used to be educational, like TLC and The History Channel, have resorted to airing the same crap as everyone else. Studios love the shows because they are super cheap to produce and have found that wide populations of people just love watching assholes do shitty things to other assholes. But that’s exactly why I’m praying they never try to remake Peter Weir’s The Truman Show. In addition to the fact that the original is just a straight-up great movie (and has one of the best performances of Jim Carrey’s career), can you even imagine what a remake would be like in the current climate of reality television? With the acknowledgement that audiences don’t actually care about “reality,” but instead cat fights and constant douchebaggery, one could easily see a studio producing a manufactured remake that would suck all of the heart and meaning out of the concept. Just leave it alone.