#8) Five Hypothetical Movie Re-Makes I’d Actually Pay Money To See

It happens every so often: you see and ad for a remake of a classic movie and you roll your eyes and say, “Really?”  Yes, I know that the remake of “Karate Kid” last year wasn’t the disaster a lot of people feared; yes I enjoyed the Coens’ “True Grit” and many people preferred it to the original (which I have yet to see).  But by and large, most remakes fall short of the mark, and I’m not just talking about Vince Vaughan’s “Psycho.”

However, there are a few movies that I think might actually make for good remakes.  They all have in common that they come from roughly the same era (1984 to 1993); none were hugely successful but they all do have their legions of followers; none (besides “Nerds”) had sequels.  Also, they all have themes (technology, media, geeks, violence) that have been reinvented many times over the last twenty plus years.  In some cases, we have merely reinvented how we look at those themes.  Are you listening, Hollywood?

“Revenge of the Nerds” (1984)

Sorry, E.R. fans, but Anthony Edwards will always be “Gilbert” to me, the character he portrayed in this comedy.  I liken the plight of the nerd to that of the rapper(!?) in that, while now, hip hop and R&B have become main stream and geeks have become hip, there was once a time when the two institutions really were on the fringe and had to fight for their respect.  With computers a part of every day life, and geek culture becoming hot over the last few years, Gilbert, Lewis, Pointdexter and the rest of the “Tri Lambs” surely have been vindicated, and their story remains as relevant as ever today.   In addition to Edwards, “Nerds” also included John Goodman, Tim Busfield, Ted McGinley and James Cromwell.

“Real Genius” (1985)

Speaking of nerds, science prodigy Mitch Taylor, portrayed by Gabe Jarret, is as geeky as they come.  He and Val Kilmer’s Chris Knight make quite a team in this under-appreciated comedy.  It would be a blast to see this movie reinvented a quarter of a century later, with all of the advances in technology that we have seen.  Michael Cera, who had not been born when the film was made, would be my choice for Mitch, and perhaps Seann William “Stiffler” Scott could be Chris.  Just spitballing here, folks.  By the way, Jon Gries, who played the reclusive genius Lazlo, would show up years later as Uncle Rico in “Napoleon Dynamite.”

“Talk Radio” (1988)

When Oliver Stone made this film, Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and Dr. Laura were yet to become household names.  It would be interesting to see how this story could be adapted to the 21st century, when the internet and Sirius have changed how radio is created and consumed.  Could you see Josh Brolin as controversial talk show host Barry Champlain?  Or, who knows, maybe the central character in the remake could be female – perhaps this would be the project that helps Lindsay Lohan get her life back on track.  At least she wouldn’t have to shoplift to prepare for the role.

“Soapdish” (1991)

Considering the star power in this film – Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Downey, Jr., Elisabeth Shue, Cathy Moriarty and a young Teri Hatcher – I’m surprised it didn’t do better.  I’m not sure what drew me to it originally, but it’s one I’ve always enjoyed.  Shortly after this movie was released, MTV’s “The Real World” ushered in the era of reality TV, which would be a great platform for a remake of this film.  “Soapdish” satirizes the soap opera culture, both as it appears on the screen, and the infighting that goes on behind the scenes, and a reality TV based remake would almost be too easy.  Until that day, this film is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it: In addition to Downey and Hatcher as rising stars, look for Kathy Najimy (“King of the Hill”) and Costas Mandylor (“Saw”).  As if that wasn’t enough, we also get Carrie Fisher in a cameo, and even Ben Stein, whose character asks at a writer’s meeting, “When can we put someone in a coma?”

“Falling Down” (1993)

This movie, about an unemployed, malcontented middle-aged white guy’s rampage through L.A., was polarizing.  Some saw it as an accurate portrayal of society’s degeneration and took vindication (if vicariously) in the plight of “D-Fens”, Michael Douglas’s character.  Others saw the film as basically a racist temper tantrum.  The years since this movie’s release have seen many events that brought dialog of race issues to center stage, from the O.J. trial to the Obama presidency to the recent Arizona bill 1070.  We have also seen a string of violent acts that make Michael Douglas’s behavior seem like that of a cranky toddler: the Unibomber, the Columbine shootings, the Virginia Tech massacre, the recent killings in Tucson, and more that I could get into, except it would probably depress you and I both.  Whether the viewer sees “D-Fens” as a cold-blooded psycho or the last crusader for all that is right, his story can definitely be retold–and one could only imagine that the changes in the world since 1993 would make him even more unstable.  Perhaps Colin Farrell could play the role – or maybe this is another remake that might benefit from a strong female presence!  The only drag is that, with cell phones making pay phones obsolete, the new “Falling Down” would have to lose one of my favorite scenes.   (Check it out here.)  I don’t know if a remake of this movie–or any of these others–would be “economically viable”, but I’d be there!

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