Back in April, we compiled a list of movies so sacred that even uttering the word "remake" in their general vicinity constituted a crime against all that is right and good. "Leave alone our 'Escape from New York,'" we said. "Unhand 'Wonder Woman' and 'Hairspray' and shame on you, nameless faceless movie execs for even thinking you could replace Divine.
A scant five months later, though, we live in a changed world. A world where the John Travolta-fronted "Hairspray" remake was not only lauded by critics, but a bona fide box office smash, taking over $117 million in domestic box office receipts. Divine who? And, thanks to a kick-butt cast led by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, the September release of western classic "3:10 to Yuma" was also well-received by critics and, so far, has earned itself a tidy $37 million.
Have we learned our lesson? Based on the above examples -- and superhero stories like the "Batman" franchise, which seems to rise like a Phoenix every decade or so -- it sure looks like remakes aren't always abominations. Sure, I'd still cry foul if "The Wizard of Oz" or "Citizen Kane" wound up on a studio's production slate, but I'm now at least open to the possibility that a different director and cast may have something to add to a good story's interpretation (Steve Martin's "Pink Panther" not withstanding).
So, of course, when I saw this morning's news that "The Karate Kid" was the latest target of remake buzz, it got me thinking about two questions:
1. What movies would you like to see remade?
-- My answer: An updated "Thin Man." Nick and Nora's razor sharp back-and-forth could play to a whole new generation (in the hands of the right pair).
-- Field agent Jim Brady's answer: "Capricorn One." I still liked it, but someone could make it awesome with the right cast. Oh, and O.J. Simpson was in the original.
-- Field agent Jen Chaney's answer: They should remake "The Shop Around the Corner." They already did it once with "You've Got Mail." And that was terrible. But stick closer to the original concept and maybe get Wes Anderson on the case and you've got something there.
And, the harder question:
2. What remade movies were actually better than the original?
-- My answer: With apologies to Glenn Ford, Van Heflin and Stephen Hunter, I'd have to go with "3:10 to Yuma." Also, "Scarface." Although the 1932 original is campy fun, Al Pacino's 1983 remake is a classic.
-- Field agent Paul Williams's answer: "The Ring" is better/scarier than "Ringu." I know I'm in the minority on that. If I had seen "Ringu" first I might feel differently, but I thought that American version looked better, and by leaving the backstory more vague, it seemed more haunting.
Share your nominees for both categories below...