Earlier this week, a few candid images of the cast of the new Sparkle film were released to the media; this comes on the heels of the announcement that the Pied Pedophile of R&B R. Kelly will score the remake of the 1976 film, which is loosely based on the rise of Diana Ross and The Supremes. A trailer for the remake of 1984’s Footloose was also recently revealed. The Den of Geek blog counted some seventy five films last year that were up for either remaking or for additional sequels, including the released-in-our-lifetime Drop Dead Fred, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and Jurassic Park.
‘Aint nothing new under the sun’ may be an understatement.
It’s one thing to revisit flicks from way back in the day ( a well-done “Carmen Jones” remake would be EPIC; sadly, Carmen: A Hip-Hopera probably killed all chances of that), but to have films that came out when I was a kid redone before I have children myself? That seems to speak to a serious lack of creativity on Hollywood’s part. While Sparkle isn’t hardly a recent film, its still considered by many to be a classic. Thus, revisting it risks toeing the delicate line between paying homage and messing with a good thing. And if we want to see Sparkle, we can just order the Irene Cara-classic, right?
Why does Hollywood revist the same ideas over and over again? Well, because its profitable (or at least it can be). You have a story that is a proven fan favorite, which requires a bit less thought than coming up with an entirely new concept, and you have audiences that are often keen on warm, familiar images than they are interested in uncharted territory. In times of war and economic instability, a beloved story with well-loved characters is a safe place to seek solace. At the end of the day, its all about the bottom line and a remake may very well seem like a calculated risk, as opposed to something presented with less certainty regarding the return.
Yet and still, that doesn’t take away from the disappointment we feel when a beloved movie or story doesn’t fare so well in the remix department. Mama, I Want To Sing was a hit off-Broadway show in 1983…and a much-maligned 2009 remake that never made it to theaters. The abysmal Honeymooners film, which starred Cedric The Entertainer and Gabrielle Union, probably cost someone at Paramount their job. Jaden Smith’s “Karate Kid” got mixed reviews from audiences that were largely old enough to remember the first versions. And the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises have been revisited more times than a dopehouse with a credit policy.
With that, I wish that we could have a ‘do not touch’ list of films that would not be eligible for remakes until they are at least 40+ years old. Let’s let our fave flicks marinate and obtain ‘classic’ status before we let someone mess with a good thing. I have a some movies in mind for that policy and I’m sure most of you could add to the group:
- Mahogany (1975): YOU BETTER DON’T! I know someone is already dreaming of casting Beyonce in an update of the classic Diana Ross film, but I want that person to remain sleeping.
- House Party (1990): The two sequels (we don’t discuss the Immature-starring HP 4) were plenty enough, there is absolutely no need to try and revist the classic buddy comedy.
- The Five Heartbeats (1991): The most likely remake of this film would be some sort of modern take, but I’d just prefer that if someone wanted to take on the task of profiling, say, a doomed New Jack Swing outfit, that they would leave the classic film out of it and rest on their own laurels.
- Juice (1992): There will never be another ‘Pac, so just let well enough alone. Didn’t think this film was in danger of being abused by the remake machine until Soulja Boy announced his plans to do so independently to the horror of many.
- Poetic Justice (1993): See above.
- Waiting To Exhale (1995): We’ll let the pending sequel live, as it is based on an actual sequel to the book AND will star the original cast. But we do NOT need to see a remake of the film starring Raven Symone, Rihanna, Naturi Naughton and a token Latina ever, k?
- Love Jones (1997): One of the few Black 90’s films that has earned ‘classic Black romance’ status already, we’d much rather see a new story about a new couple than to see any other actors attempt to recreate the magic of Nia and Larenz’s Nina and Darius.
What other flicks should we officially make ‘off-limits’ for remakes? Are you a fan of the art of making the ‘old’ new again? Or are you thirsty for fresh material from Hollywood?