Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Hollywood Needs to Stop With the Remakes

So, I just read something online that irritated me rather a lot. They’re remaking “Dirty Dancing.”

I’d say I don’t know why they’re remaking “Dirty Dancing” but, really, I do…it’s Hollywood and they appear to have thrown creativity out the window in favour of trying to make a quick profit.

It’s sad and rather ridiculous, honestly. I mean, ok…so “Dirty Dancing” wasn’t exactly “Casablanca” or “The Godfather” to begin with. It’s a slightly cheesy film with some rather silly dialogue (“I carried a watermelon,” and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” come to mind) but, over time, that dialogue has become classic, quotable and instantly recognizable. There are movies that are just good and then movies like “Dirty Dancing” which come out and everyone just…loves. Take my dad, for example. “Dirty Dancing” is one of his all-time favourite films. Granted, his taste isn’t very…great to begin with, I mean the man must have watched “Starship Troopers” more times than is humanly necessary. However, there’s something about “Dirty Dancing” that made it one of those little movies that could. It resonated with our generation.

When “Dirty Dancing” first came out on video, my friend Amy and I would have sleepovers. We’d creep downstairs after my parents had gone to bed and watch movies. My parents knew but they just couldn’t sit through the same movies over and over the way we could. Amy had a crush on Patrick Swayze so we ALWAYS had to watch “Dirty Dancing.” I (yes, I’m ashamed to admit it) had a huge thing for Tom Cruise and we had to watch “Top Gun” a lot. We were creatures of habit and we knew what we liked.

Even now, I can watch “Dirty Dancing” with a certain fondness. It’s a little dated but it’s still fun. It’s still got that ‘magic’ that made it a phenomenon.

And yet now Hollywood wants to remake it. The original choreographer from “Dirty Dancing” is going to direct.

It seems as though this is happening more and more. We didn’t need a new “Arthur,” but we got one and it was pretty awful. We didn’t need a new “Karate Kid” but we got one and while it featured Will Smith’s cute son, it lacked the fun cheesiness of the real Mr. Miyagi’s waxing on and waxing off. We’re getting a remake of “Footloose” whether we like it or not and I’m sure it’s going to be terrible. Ok, so rewatching the original shows it to be horrible dated. Kevin Bacon’s exclamation of “Jump Back!” when he finds out there’s not dancing allowed in town alone makes the film completely cheesy and silly. Yet it’s a fun cheesy and silly because when “Footloose” originally came out, you couldn’t resist taping your toe and wanting to leap up and dance along to the theme song. It was the 1980’s and it worked.

Maybe the remake of “Footloose” will be good. I’m not holding my breath. It’s too soon to be remaking films from the 1980’s. Give it another 20 years and maybe we’ll talk then. If I, someone in my mid 30’s can still remember renting the video as a new release, it’s too soon. Sorry, but it is.

I have no hopes for “Dirty Dancing’s” remake. Why bother in the first place? The chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze made the film what it was. You can’t recreate that. The thrill of waiting for the climactic dancing that follows, “No one puts Baby in a corner!” won’t be the same. You can’t recreate a movie that wasn’t manufactured to be a huge hit….it just became one.

The sad this is, as I said earlier, I know why Hollywood is doing it. They want to make money and they don’t want to lose it. “Dirty Dancing” won’t cost a fortune to make because it doesn’t have any need for flashy effects or big-name actors. It may make some money because the tweenies and teens who think the old one is dated might go see it. More than likely, it’ll be aimed at Glee crowd just as so much crap is these days. Glee appears to be the television equivalent of “Twilight”. It was a huge hit and Hollywood is trying to figure out how to bottle that success and find it elsewhere. They do it by releasing shows and movies that will appeal to the same audience. This is how we got “Red Riding Hood” which is a perfectly awful movie that clearly was made from the same mould as “Twilight” and is just as ridiculous. It’s why we have “The Glee Project” on TV and several other shows about singing and dancing.

It’s just sad though. I probably have a skewed perspective because when I moved to L.A. ten years ago, it was to attempt to become a screenwriter. The trouble was is that without knowing anyone in the industry, there was nothing but closed doors and lack of interest. I think I had some good ideas and I think I could write well but there was no way in. I met other young screenwriters like me who also had the same problem- we couldn’t get read because we weren’t anyone important and there was no time for us.

I’m sure that even though I gave up screenwriting in favour of novel writing, there are still thousands of writers who move to L.A. each year for the same reason. They have great scripts and great ideas but they can’t get an agent to give them the time of day. If they’re lucky enough to pitch their ideas, they rarely go anywhere. It’s disheartening.

I’m sure that some of these unknown screenwriters have actual, real, great ideas. I’m sure some of them even have fantastic scripts. They can’t get the time of day because behind the studio’s creative doors, you’ve got some moron saying, “Hey, let’s remake “Dirty Dancing!”

You get my point. It’s easier for Hollywood to make a quick buck than take a risk and maybe win. Easy and cheap always wins over risky any day. It’s business, it’s not personal.

It’s just when they take something like “Dirty Dancing” that feels as personal as an old, beloved friend you’ve known for more than half your life, it feels rather personal.

Still, it’s going to happen anyway. I suppose we should be lucky that it’s a 20 year old movie. Since they’re already rebooting “Spiderman” even though the Tobey McGuire version is not that old, you have to be thankful that they’re not remaking more recent films. The last thing we need is them to start remaking the “Harry Potter” movies. I mean, after all, the first one is around ten years old now after all.

Nevertheless, I live in hope that this creative drought in Hollywood may end soon and we’ll be back to original scripts. One can always dream, I suppose.

Happy Wednesday!

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