The story line in “Overboard” is a fitting choice for a gender swap, considering that the plot is also a switcheroo — after waking up with amnesia, the heir/heiress lives the life of a pauper — which is itself an inversion of the rags-to-riches trope.
On the other hand, some films don’t lend themselves as naturally to this kind of experimentation. The planned all-female version of “Lord of the Flies” has fans scratching their heads, since the story traces the extremes of the male psyche. Hollywood loves a gimmick.
We asked five filmmakers to share which gender swaps they want to see next — and why.
Remake pitch: “Grumpy Old Men” (1993), retitled “Grumpy Old Women.”
Original plot: A mutual love interest reignites the rivalry between two elderly, curmudgeonly neighbors.
New cast: Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, with George Clooney in the Ann-Margret role.
The gender-swap’s effect: “It would be great to have the ladies mad about the fact that in the ’70s they burned their bras and fought the fight for equality of women — and now find themselves having to fight all over again. . . . ‘What a waste of our lives!’ ”
A classic scene rewritten: Instead of John (Jack Lemmon) shouting, “Moron!” and Max (Walter Matthau) responding, “Putz!” it would be Mirren yelling, “Slut!” and Dench responding with something unprintable. “And then an argument about slut-shaming: ‘It wasn’t good then and it isn’t good now, and you can’t slut-shame someone who hasn’t had sex in 20 years.’ ”
Writer-director of “Dear White People”
Remake pitch: “West Side Story” (1961), with Maria as Mario or Tony as Toni.
Original plot: In a spin on “Romeo and Juliet,” a New York City gang member falls in love with a rival gang member’s sister. (Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner are holding casting calls for their own remake.)
New cast: If it’s Maria and Toni: Samira Wiley and Janelle Monáe. If it’s Mario and Tony: “Oh, boy, there’s a whole list of people I’d like to see make out in movies.”
The gender-swap’s effect: “A lot of people think gay history sort of begins in the ’70s, but of course gay people have always been there, living complicated and secret, compartmentalized lives. Wouldn’t it up the tension if it’s not just a star-crossed love affair between two families, but if the love itself is totally forbidden?”
Classic scene revisited: “When they finally sort of meet in the street and he walks away singing ‘Maria’: Whether it’s a guy falling in love with another guy, or a girl falling in love with another girl, the minute it’s declared, there’s an air of danger to it — beyond the family tribalism — that would be really interesting to play out. Back then, when you caught feelings for somebody, immediately you had to think about how to hide them.”
Remake pitch: “GoodFellas” (1990), with all black women and retitled “GoodQueens.”
Original plot: The journey of small-time “wiseguy” Henry Hill reveals the seedier side of the mafia in ’60s and ’70s New York City.
New cast: Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lupita Nyong’o and Rashida Jones (as Tommy).
The gender-swap’s effect: It would be a depiction of black women who have power but are unfettered by social mores.
Classic scenes revisited: “The heart-wrenching scene when Henry (Ray Liotta) realizes that his wife, beautifully played by Lorraine Bracco, flushed the dope: I want to see Angela Bassett yelling at her husband, possibly played by her real-life husband, Courtney B. Vance.”
“And that exchange when Tommy (Joe Pesci) asks, ‘What do you mean, I’m funny?’ — I love the idea of Rashida doing that line. The line would stay the same and the delivery would be fresh and amazing.”
Remake pitch: “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005), retitled “Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants” or “Boy Squad.”
Original plot: When four best friends (Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn and America Ferrera) find a pair of pants that fits all of them, they deem it magic and mail it to one another during the first summer they spend apart.
New cast: Timethée Chalamet, RJ Cyler, Lucas Hedges, Tony Revolori.
The gender-swap’s effect: “It would be lovely to see a movie about a group of teen boys who aren’t afraid of being sensitive, kind and thoughtful. The idea that boys would be as committed to their friendships would make it refreshing.”
Classic scenes revisited: “The scene where they all try on the pants and they all realize that they look good in them. To see boys be excited about a pair of pants fitting them all, despite the fact that they have drastically different bodies, would be such an exuberant, exciting scene. And complimenting each other on how they look — for them to be so unconcerned with worrying about whether it made them feel gay or something — would be a nice thing to see from young boys.” The problem is, “It would be infuriating how good those boys can all look in a pair of Levis.”
Remake pitch: “Jackass: The Movie” (2002).
Original plot: In the film based on MTV’s comedy-reality-prank show, a bunch of fearless dudes do anything for a laugh, including inflicting themselves with bodily harm.
The gender-swap’s effect: “If you see a man electrocute his genitalia on purpose, people are like, ‘This is hilarious.’ If a woman did the same thing, people would be like, ‘That is a psychotic whore who is self-harming and has psychological issues.’ Women’s bodies are regarded as deadly serious and community property. I want people to realize they have double-standards. The funny fat guy is a staple, whereas if a bigger woman does comedy it turns into this weirdly controversial thing where she gets, like, death threats on Twitter.”
“I’m a huge fan of ‘Jackass: The Movie.’ Like, I just showed my oldest son last weekend the movie. I’m not shading that movie. I’m saying I would love to see women also have opportunities to be complete clowns. And I don’t see it happening very often.”
New cast: Stuntwomen. “Or me. I’ve already had stupid tattoos and I guess I’m not that far from putting a fish hook through my lip.”
Classic scenes revisited: “A woman running into a ring full of bulls and almost getting gored on the horn. People would be gasping in horror.”
“When Johnny Knoxville dresses up as the old man and messes with people. That would give me great joy, to assume the character of a very old woman, get in people’s faces, and terrify them. I think it might be easier to do as a woman.”