The Shallow End: Remake This!

I know the mere mention of remakes forces a volcanic eruption of 16th century jinxes upon Hollywood from both movie geeks and film snobs alike, but you can’t convince me remakes are the doings of the devil. A remake of a film has never caused a nuclear war or even killed your prized Chia Pet.

Yeah, I agree 9 times out of 10 remakes are as stupid as IMDB users who, without irony, pin 10 stars on an Uwe Boll movie. And so what? Rob Zombie’s Halloween made a chain whipping gang stomp from the Hell’s Angels seem like time better spent, but the original John Carpenter film still exists for your viewing pleasure on AMC or the 39 different DVD editions.

But Davey Dave, remakes just demonstrate how creatively bankrupt Hollywood truly is these days. What a load of fecal matter. Hollywood has been remaking flicks since the beginning. In fact, remakes have been around before Hollywood. Hell, the first film ever screened for a paying audience back in 1895, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory, is apparently a remake of a version screened privately 9 months earlier.

Louis Lumière. What a hack.

When it comes down to it, I’ve never understood the major difference between a remake and adapting a piece of literature to the big screen. You never hear people throwing verbal garbage cans at filmmakers for adapting novels. C’mon now, whether it’s a remake or literature adaptation, aren’t you still cribbing someone else’s original material? So by that logic, we should be bludgeoning Stanley Kubrick’s legacy for the derivative bastard he was.

Here’s the deal. Occasionally a remake of a great film is fine and dandy with me. For instance, Peter Jackson’s King Kong is a masterpiece and, flame me as much as you’d like, but it kicks the living shit out of the original. As long as a filmmaker can add something interesting to a remake or explore interesting avenues from the literature of which it’s based (as Kubrick always did), then why complain?

Yet, with that said, the remakes that excite me most are redos of flicks that had a great concept but screwed the pooch in execution. Ocean’s 11 is a fine example of this. The original starring the Rat Pack was okay, but mediocre at best. Hot damn it had a killer idea though. Steven Soderbergh recognized this and by salvaging the aspects of the original that worked and modifying what didn’t, and he ended up creating one of the most enjoyable popcorn films of the last decade.

If I had my choice of what flawed flick to re-imagine, I think I’d go with something like 3000 Miles to Graceland. I don’t know if you remember this picture show since it bombed Hiroshima style and just plain sucked. But it involves Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell and a whole gang of other quasi-known names who rob a casino during an Elvis impersonator convention. The twist though is Costner and Russell are the bastard children of one Sir Elvis Presley.

As far as I’m concerned, the two bastards of The King duking it out all John Woo like is a fantastic idea for a movie. And I love the setup of robbing a casino during an Elvis convention. Yet, otherwise the film stinks up joint with an annoying kid and love interest subplot all before morphing into a lame, generic shoot ‘em up. It’s only during the end credits when Costner and Russell lip synch to Elvis as hallucinogenic visuals get green-screened behind them that the film finds its footing. If the rest of the 3000 Miles zipped with that off-the-hinge lunacy we’d have a great double feature with Bubba Ho-Tep.

So seriously Hollywood, here’s a film ripe for getting redone. You won’t hear any fanboys complain about tarnishing the original and if you hire Terry Gilliam or those madmen behind Crank to direct, then you’ve got a sure fire gonzo classic on your hands. And just maybe you’ll learn that resurrecting fine concepts from ruined movies might be the best path for a remake.


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