KEEPING IT REEL: A MOVIE LOVER’S PERSPECTIVE ON REBOOTS
Written for the Internet and Directed by: Scott Andrew Lieberman
We live in a world where it’s become routine for the Hollywood pundits to put out a remake, a reboot (or whatever you want to call it) of a film or TV show. Whether it’s to make an extra buck, cash in on nostalgia, or just the thought that writers and studio heads have become lazy, this tactic doesn’t sit well with many moviegoers. As a matter of fact, it kind of insults our intelligence to a degree.
For instance, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Ghostbusters released in 2016 didn’t do it for many of us. Out of 150,436 reviews, the film received a 5.3 out of ten stars on IDMB and is expecting a $70 million loss from total box office gross after all is said and done. The original Ghostbusters from 1984 is simply a classic with one liner quips by a cast who has impeccable chemistry, timing, and doesn’t try and force the situation. The execs need to admit: this reboot was shoved in movie goers faces and we gave it a shot while suspecting the ultimate outcome, literally haunting us and falling flat. According to several sources including ScreenRant.com, original player Dan Aykroyd described working with director Paul Feig as a bit of a disaster since he didn’t consider Aykroyd’s recommendation to add scenes he thought would be a positive play for the film. This resulted in several reshoots, spending more money and still, a failure for audiences AND the studios. This reboot was a simple way to try and cash in on nostalgia and as the numbers show, it just didn’t work. While this is a new era with new technology, we should build off innovation and new ways of doing things, not of carbon copying someone else’s intellectual property. There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If you aren’t convinced of this just yet, here’s another example which really made many cringe upon hearing about it. You may have heard of a little movie called Uncle Buck. The original directed by John Hughes in 1989 starred John Candy. Case and point, you can’t redo John Candy. And as Candy’s character says in the original film, while talking a much younger Macaulay Culkin, “No, you can’t. You just can’t. It’s in the books.” For some odd reason that line totally fits this narrative to a tee. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mike Epps’ body of work, but what ABC attempted to do before this show got cancelled, shortly after it’s pilot episode, was a simple case of capitalizing on classic gold. A lack of fresh ideas for that TV season paired with lazy writing and the recollection of a film that was so beloved somehow forced ABC to head back into the vault and try and twist things around a bit. What the network didn’t seem to realize is that there are 6.5 billion people in this world and I can guarantee you the solid 80 % who have seen the original film from 1989 are fans, and 110% of those fans didn’t feel that we needed a series based on old form. Why not just change the name of the show and have a little something fresh to offer with Mike Epps’ comedic timing and personal touch? Again, lazy writing, lazy war room discussion of ideas, and thinking about it, a lack of creative integrity. I hate to use second grade jargon, but TV and movie execs should go back to the drawing board and think about what they’ve done. Feeling negative repercussions, and fan fare outcries.
It’s become more and more clear that this film and television world of ours has become nothing shy of a shallow shell of our past trying to rake in on something that simply cannot be replicated. There are plenty of other titles that fall into the categories of reboots gone awry. Just to name few: Rush Hour, the TV show. Cancelled and not even into their first season. Beverly Hills Cop, the TV show, which never made it to the air. Ben-Hur, a 2016 remake of the original which lost $120 million. I could have said Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh wait, I just did, but that’s too easy a target since I had nothing but TMNT paraphernalia growing up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. The trend keeps going on and on, and yet these studios don’t see the bigger, dare I say, “Picture.”
One thing many of these movie studios have to wonder is how does a company like Netflix do it? Do they not see the original content they are pumping out? Are they choosing to ignore the successful social buzz and interactions Netflix fans gladly share on their social media pages about all their favorite shows? Now, every major premium cable channel has become “App Happy” with their streaming services, and most, if not all, streaming their own content. I’m not saying movie execs should follow the streaming model to help boost their lackluster reboots. There is an avenue of ideas to put into the think tank and produce something we haven’t watched. Experience on the silver screen of high quality content and storytelling is a model that works. Thank you to Jordan Peele’s Get-Out, for not only proving that point with $175 million in total ticket sales with a production budget of $5 million, but also approval ratings. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rare 99% Fresh, and out of 130,000 users on IMDB, an 8/10 star rating. You want to put a happy customer in the seats? Give them something with a twist. Something fresh. With the way social media is heading, word of mouth is guaranteed to be effective as it was with this film.
The point is made and it’s time to “buck up” and do the right thing. Hire new writers? Read more books? Read more newspapers to get ideas? Go back into the history books, and cover someone’s life who made a difference in the world? Ironically, all of these variables have worked for the powers that be in the past. They’ve managed to put out genuine entertainment and make it worthwhile turning on the TV and checking out a movie at the local cinema. Many modern day movie lovers would agree, growing up in the late 80s and into the 90s was nothing short of fantastic. There were stronger storylines, character development and originality. I like to keep it that way. And if you must add CGI effects over practical effects to add substance to the story, do it, but don’t insult our intelligence.
When someone comes out and says “this remake is going to ruin my childhood,” most of us can relate because that’s the way it was to be, and not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s like someone mows over your beautifully cut lawn and all that’s left to show for it is the dying dried out grass. The procedure is simple: DON’T TOUCH!
For all the movie enthusiasts out there, I’d love to hear what you think. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Are you ambivalent? How can we make a change to this underachieving way of putting out creative content?