Remakes. They are the most pointless films you could possibly make. Why do I need to see an exact replica of a classic movie? Just watch the original. Now have there been some good remakes? Absolutely. How about the only Oscar Martin Scorsese ever won with The Departed in 2006, a remake of Infernal Affairs. Christopher Nolan has even jumped into the remake game with the very underrated Al Pacino/Robin Williams thriller Insomnia (2002). And then of course the most iconic remake of them all, Scarface, Brian De Palma’s 1983 masterpiece. We all remember that one. Now having said all that, 99.9% of all remakes are still probably going to be a waste of time. So why do we have them? Well, Hollywood is a business, kids. They know when Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th gets slapped on a poster, it’s going to make money. Even the people who whine and complain, “You can’t remake that, it’s a classic!” Their ticket is bought and sold.
With the remake of another hallowed classic just released (RoboCop), I thought this would be a good opportunity to lament some of the worst remakes ever made. With Hollywood being on such a nostalgia kick the last few years, some of these are even pretty recent. So get ready to copy, hit ctrl-v on the keyboard, and let’s count down the Top 10 Worst Remakes!
10) Footloose (2011) — Remake of Footloose (1984)
This wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but Footloose simply doesn’t work in today’s world. It was perfect for its time, and they should have just left it alone. Today’s teenage audience would just find this silly, whereas back then, the crazy macho dancing soaked up the cheese of the 80’s seamlessly. It fit that decade like a glove, but this version never stood a chance. The lead actor (Kenny Wormald) does an admirable job, but that film was made for Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Bacon only. This version was doomed to fail. Read Daniel Cohen’s review of Footloose for Pop-Break.
9. Delivery Man (2013) — Remake of Starbuck (2011)
This remake of the French Canadian original is irritating for one simple reason – the same director (Ken Scott) does the remake only two years later! This is the same movie beat for beat. These are the worst kinds of remakes – you almost literally change nothing. All the jokes are the same. David Wozniak talks with his burn out lawyer friend who jokes about abortion in front of his kids. It’s the same conversation! Oh, but wait a minute. In the original, one of David’s kids is a soccer star, but in the American version it’s basketball! Wow, no wonder they wanted to remake this. The original at least presents the tone of the film a lot better. I know when the dramatic moments are, and I know when I’m supposed to laugh. The remake is a mess in that regard. Read Daniel Cohen’s review of Delivery Man for Pop-Break.
8) The Longest Yard (2005) — Remake of The Longest Yard (1974)
The original is a solid little film, nothing special. The remake is an odd case, because I actually like some of it. The chemistry between Adam Sandler and Burt Reynolds (who starred in the original) is actually pretty good. The problem though is that it’s decimated by a lot of little things. First off, let’s talk about Chris Rock. Oh, Chris Rock. Look, I think Rock is a funny guy. His stand-up is great. He just shouldn’t be in movies. If you look at his IMDB, it’s like staring into a dark abyss…just awful. His first scene just beats you over the head with stereotypes. This is also an Adam Sandler movie, so of course all the gay humor has to be front and center. But what really irks me about this new version is when they get to the actual football game. The film manages to bring two of the most annoying sports personalities together in one room – Jim Rome and Chris Berman. Rome is as snarky as ever, and Berman is just relentless. “The Fumblerooski!” Ugh. If you like Chris Berman, more power to you…he’s not for me. In fact, the whole ESPN media-esque coverage they do for the Guards vs. Cons game in general is just annoying beyond belief.
7) King Kong (2005) – Remake of King Kong (1933)
The original King Kong is a must-watch for any film fan. Having said that, I’m not going to be one of those film student snobs who complain about this remake just based on the fact that it was made. Forget the original. Let’s just focus on the actual movie at hand…LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG! Holy bagel bites, are you kidding me with this? This is why Peter Jackson just isn’t my cup of tea. I respect what he did with Lord of the Rings, but come on…edit a movie! This is absolutely excruciating. Everything takes forever. Getting to the island. The end is drawn out beyond belief. 900 subplots that don’t mean anything. Over-acting. And it’s just so over stylized, not subtle at all. Yeah, we get it! Your film takes place in the ’30s! Not only that, but so much of the action is derived from CG dinosaurs…right, because that’s never been done before. There are some nice moments in the film, don’t get me wrong. Some of the dinosaur action is tension filled, and I do like the relationship developed between Ann (Naomi Watts) and Kong (Andy Serkis). But a three hour run-time!? In the words of the immortal Joey Gladstone…”Cut it out.”
6) Planet of the Apes (2001) – Remake of Planet of the Apes (1968):
Let’s continue to build off that monkey momentum. First off, if you haven’t seen the original, please do – it’s a stellar movie. When I first saw this remake, I thought it was one of the worst films ever made. I have to admit though, when seeing it again, it wasn’t as bad as I remember. But let me be clear – it’s a bad movie, and maybe even Tim Burton’s worst. The ironic part is that it doesn’t even feel like a Tim Burton movie. The first half is completely passionless. I was bored out of my mind. Mark Wahlberg is trying at times, but he knows he’s in total garbage. The real bad acting though is from Estella Warren who play Daena…yikes. I give this movie a little credit for not just rehashing the original film – they do try some different things. And Helena Bonham Carter actually gives a pretty good performance, all things considered. But other than most of this being completely and utterly boring, what really makes this remake truly terrible are the apes – they act so damn silly. The look is pretty good, but everyone is overacting so horribly, I can’t take any of it seriously. It’s hard to believe you take the original 1968 apes more seriously. This version also has the unfortunate line of “Get your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty human!” Oh, I get it. In the original it’s “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape,” but in the new one, they reverse it. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
5) Bedazzled (2000) – Remake of Bedazzled (1967)
Yeah, bet you didn’t think this was a remake. Remember this little ditty? You probably don’t. The original is actually a fun subtle little film. There’s nothing subtle about the remake though. Basically, in both versions, a lowly loser gets a chance to have seven wishes from the Devil, but it will cost him his soul. And on each wish, the Devil manipulates everything with madcap shenanigans. In the original, it’s Peter Cook playing the Devil, but in the newer version, they go sexy with Elizabeth Hurley. I understand the point was to sex the character up, but seriously, she has more costume changes than Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace. I’ve never seen so many combinations of red and black. Hurley actually gives a decent performance, but the reason I can’t stand this film is Brendan Fraser. Wow, has he been in some stinkers. Fraser plays Elliot, our loser. The problem with his performance is that you’re supposed to sympathize with the character, but he’s unlikable to the point where you want him to fail. “What up, bro. Want to play some hoops?” Yea…that’s pretty much Elliot. The jokes are also plain mean spirited. “You turned me into a flaming homosexual!” Like I said, you’re supposed to like Fraser’s character. The original is worth a look, but this remake is just unpleasant.
4) Total Recall (2012) – Remake of Total Recall (1990)
-At times, it’s pretty to look at, but I just don’t have a whole lot to say about this one. The original is awesome, but this version just makes you want to go to bed. None of the actors seemed to care, and it was just a chore to sit through. Read Daniel Cohen’s review of Total Recall for Pop-Break.
3) Psycho (1998) – Remake of Psycho (1960)
Hollywood cares about one thing, and one thing only – money. Having said that, this is one I think they even regret exploiting. This should have just been left alone. The film was directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), and to be perfectly honest, it seemed like he was even embarrassed about making it. He plays it so safe and non-controversial, it literally feels like shot for shot the same film. The music, the title screen, it’s the same damn movie! Even the actors seemed to be rushing through it, like they were ashamed or something. It’s so safe to the point of being uncomfortable. Out of all the remakes we’ve talked about, this is by far the most pointless. And for people who make the argument “Oh, remakes are harmless. It’s not like the original movie disappears.” Fair enough. But this remake was made 38 years after the original. Imagine a young moviegoer who stumbles upon Psycho and says, “Oh, I’ve heard somewhere this is one of the best movies ever made.” But the Psycho he ends up stumbling upon is this one. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
2) Arthur (2011) – Remake of Arthur (1981)
If you’ve been reading my reviews for a long time, you know I have no love for Russell Brand. The remake begins with Brand’s Arthur driving around town wearing the bat-nipple costume. Does that not set the tone perfectly? What makes the original Arthur a nice little film is that, yes, Arthur is a man-child, but it’s not in your face about it. You see a few toys and a train track lying around, but that’s it. In the remake, Arthur’s room looks like a damn FAO Schwarz. It’s completely over the top and ridiculous, but worst of all, not funny. Not only that, but they expand on the jokes that missed in the original. For example, there’s a very quick line about how the dad of Arthur’s wife to be will kill him if Arthur disappoints her. In the remake, we get Nick Nolte playing that same character, but with a long drawn out, unfunny scene where Nolte shows him a buzz saw. What the hell am I watching? The remake also has Greta Gerwig, who I’m not the biggest fan of. Seriously, just star in “I’m Quirky! The Movie” already. Please stay away from this one. Read Daniel Cohen’s review of Arthur for Pop-Break.
1) The Karate Kid (2010) – Remake of The Karate Kid (1984)
Full disclosure – The original Karate Kid is in my top twenty of all time favorite movies, so I fully admit I’m probably being a little sensitive about this one. With the exception of maybe Battle Los Angeles, I can’t remember a time when I walked out of a theater so angry then I did with 2010’s The Karate Kid. And the fact that it was so successful made it worse. To know a generation of moviegoers will know this film as “The Karate Kid” is so infuriating. And he doesn’t even do karate! It’s kung-fu! But I digress…that should be the film’s worst problem. Normally, I don’t like to be a nit-picker when it comes to movies, but for this one, the gloves are off…
This remake is the exact same movie as the original. The only difference is that it takes place in Beijing, China. Oh wait, I forgot…there are some huge differences. When Dre (Jaden Smith) meets Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) for the first time, he asks him to fix the hot water from the shower, but in the original, it’s the kitchen faucet. I’m glad they remade this. I always wanted the shower to be broken, and not the sink. Also, when Mr. Han tries to bail Dre out of trouble, he tells the evil dojo master it’s not fair for Dre to face a “six-to-one problem.” But in the original, it’s only a “five-to-one” problem. These changes must have taken months to outline.
But all joking aside, the reason this version ultimately crashes and burns is that it takes out any subtlety the film may have had. The tournament at the end is just stupid. In the original, the karate looks realistic, maybe slightly exaggerated. In this new version, they fight like they are in the Matrix. Give me a break. But it’s really the training scenes that are abhorrent. They are brilliant in the original film. Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) does household chores, and when it’s revealed he actually learned karate from them, it’s amazing. In 2010, it’s “Jacket On/Jacket Off” instead of the classic “Wax On/Wax Off.” With “Wax On/Wax Off,” you actually believe he learned karate, but with this new one, he suddenly starts doing crazy moves that had nothing to do with the jacket lessons. It makes no sense.
I admit I brought a lot of personal baggage into this remake, and maybe that’s unfair. You can call me a nostalgic dingbat if you want, but I don’t care…this remake rips out all the charm of the original, and I will never be convinced otherwise.