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While writer/director/actor Steve Pink doesn't have a great number of credits to his name, he does have a fairly high batting average. The man has had a hand in two of the best movies John Cusack ever made, having written both Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity, and his next directorial venture, Hot Tub Time Machine, has been getting a great deal of buzz and, from the look of the trailers, should be rather enjoyable. Sure, he also directed the mediocre Accepted (can someone please tell me why they just didn't go to community college?), but his previous work made it acceptable to overlook. I'm afraid I won't be able to extend that same courtesy to his next film, should he actually go through his plans.
Movie Web recently sat down with the director and amidst talk about the future of Martin Q. Blank and a sequel to the 1997 hit-man comedy, the website asked if there were any franchises or movies that he would care to remake. This is his response:
I only have a really weird answer, which is Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. John and I co-directed the American stage premiere of the movie. We took an adaptation and worked on it. We revised our own adaptation of it and did the American stage production, which ran in Chicago for a couple of months when we had a theater company together. So I would like that because I love Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp's version but we want to do our own version. So I would love to have a shot at redoing that movie because we really love the Hunter S. Thompson esthetic. So it would be nice. I think there's a Hunter S. Thompson movie in us too. Everyone gives it a shot but I'm convinced that we know how to do it the best. Sorry great actors Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro and great director Terry Gilliam but I still think we have something to offer in the Hunter S. Thompson cannon of work in bringing it to film, so I'd like to do that.
There is only one good reason to remake a movie, and that is if you think you can vastly improve the original. In the case of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this is simply not possible. I am fully aware that Cusack was a close friend of Hunter S. Thompson (in fact, it was his production company, New Crime Productions, that financed the 1998 film), but Gilliam's direction and the performances by Depp and Del Toro were so perfectly in tune with the book that no other take could possibly exceed it. If you are searching for proof of this, you need to look no further than Thompson's intimate relationship with the production of the film. The Red Shark? That was the good doctor's own 1971 Chevrolet Impala convertible. Depp's shaved head? Thompson did it himself while the actor was living with him in his Colorado home preparing for the role (which, by the way, Thompson hand picked him for over Cusack). He even has a cameo in the Jefferson Airplane scene and took the time to record a commentary track for the DVD. Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was more than a movie based on a book; it was a monument that celebrated the journalist's whole career. While Pink and Cusack may have the passion for the project, there is no way they could do it without cheapening the original.