Friday, February 14, 2014

The Eighties Called, They Want Their Movies Back

Watching the so-called "New At The Box Office" segment on our local news, three of the four films coming out this week are not all that new. They're remakes of of films from the eighties.

First was "About Last Night," which came out in 1986 and starred Brat Packers Demi Moore and Rob Lowe. It's a romantic comedy about a couple embarking on a new relationship, all the while dealing with personal problems and their disapproving friends.

In this incarnation, the cast is African American, starring Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.  Seeing as how the original film was based on a play that came out in 1974 called "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" by David Mamet, we're not covering any new ground here. I guess the takeaway is that even after 40 years, relationships are still complicated.

Next up was the remake of 1981's "Endless Love."  Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt played teenagers caught up in an obsessive love affair. The movie was God-awful. It received Golden Raspberry Awards nominations for Worst Film, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Actress. Worst New Star, and Worst Supporting Actress. To its credit, other films took all those dubious honors that year. It also featured a catchy little duet by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, "My Endless Love," which was a big hit for them.

I didn't see it, but according to Wikipedia, it was fairly successful, despite being panned by the critics. Leonard Maltin called it "a textbook example of how to do everything wrong in a literary adaptation." 

Now, I've always associated "Endless Love" with an info-tainment tidbit I heard about the filming. Brooke Shields, who was quite famous at the time for being a virgin, told the press that in order to portray her character's experience of an orgasm in the film's steamy sex scenes, director Franco Zefferelli pulled her big toe until he got the groaning and grimacing he wanted. 

Kind of takes some of the magic out of it, doesn't it?

The new film stars relative newcomers Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde. Wilde seems to be making a career out of starring in remakes. She's already done the 2013 version of "Carrie" and 2011's "The Three Musketeers," a film that's been remade so many times, the original was silent and starred Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. as D'Artagnan.

I saw the trailer last December when my daughter and I went to see "American Hustle." I suppose it's not giving anything away to say that Jade and David use cell phones, something that was not in the original. My reaction: Whose idea was it to bring this turkey back?

Finally, we have "Robocop," which came out in 1987 with Peter Weller as the Detroit cop who's terminally wounded then transformed into a powerful cyborg haunted by memories of his previous life. 

Of the three, it seems like the only one worth doing over. In a film heavy on special effects, imagine all the improvements over the techniques available in 1987.  Audiences can expect to be blown away by realistic robots, just as they were with "Pacific Rim."   Lots of action and violence in a dystopian future.  What's not to like?

I understand that making movies is a huge gamble and studios like to go with something they already know. And you could argue that after 30 years, all these films have a whole new audience of people who either weren't born or were too young to go see them when they came out. 

But with everyone and his brother writing original screenplays in LA, isn't there something that hasn't been done before? 

If you'd like to hear Lionel and Diana singing "My Endless Love" (and see the bits where Brooke Shields is likely having her big toe pulled), you can take a look here.

Judy Nichols is the author of several books available on Amazon

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