Movies rarely need a remake.
Remakes come about when a great movie from the past can be improved upon to appeal to audiences of the present… or at least that’s the initial intention. If they are not wary, filmmakers are too afraid to make any major changes to the beloved original, and the remakes become carbon-copies of their predecessors.
Last weekend I saw the return of RoboCop, the reboot of the 1987 mechanized mega-hit that was a smart satire on the rampant militarization of the late ’80s. The original’s cheesy action and clunky use of technology that screamed B-movie meant that there was room to improve in a positive direction. While the action is undeniably enjoyable and seeing Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson on the same screen together is equally so, the movie lacked the wit and emotion of the original.
No matter the promise of commercial gain, some movies should never be touched. They exist so perfectly in their time period that removing them would change the story and characters too drastically, almost to the point of complete and total cinematic destruction. We wouldn’t take Jay Gatsby out of the roaring ’20s or have Tom Sawyer paint a fence in 2014. Breakfast Club,Weekend at Bernie’s, Flashdance, Risky Business and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are a few ’80s films that should always reside in that Devo-listening, shoulder pad-wearing, jazzercise-obsessed, backcombed decade.
RoboCop could have been remade, but did its out-of-date technologies and comical special effects necessitate a reboot? Probably, yeah. Did an obsession with modernization lead to the loss of original intent? Definitely, yeah.
Below are ten ’80s movies that could use a remake, done right.
1. Three Men and a Baby (1987)
I would like to see a remake of Three Men and a Baby that incorporates the anxieties of the present-day parent. I am talking Baby Genius tapes, possible gluten allergies and attachment parenting.
2. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
John Hughes was the fairy godmother of 1980s teenage angst. Some Kind of Wonderful is a lesser-known Hughes picture and is often referred to as the inverted Pretty in Pink. A remake would let the film stand on its own, outside of the decade that inundated with superb teen romances. This remake would fall in between the two camps of modern teen romance, which currently stand as ultra-realistic teen romances, like The Spectacular Now, and the how-did-this-happen films, like Endless Love.
3. St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
The story of ambivalent recent college grads who complain about non-existent problems would not play too well with today’s college graduate unemployment rate and escalating student loan debt. But St. Elmo‘s exploration of the uncertainty and anxiety that follows college graduation would be relatable to a modern audience.
4. The Big Chill (1983)
I always thought of The Big Chill as an unofficial sequel to St. Elmo’s Fire. It follows thirty-somethings who, after the suicide of their friend from college, are forced to come together and collectively come to terms with their diminishing youth. The movie deals with unrealized expectations, a sentiment that Gen Y-ers know all too well.
The ensemble comedy-drama would do well as a smart, witty reboot placed into a contemporary context – i.e. making Jeff Goldblum’s Michael a TMZ reporter or BuzzFeed list-maker instead of a journalist for People magazine.)
5. Nothing in Common (1986)/ Turner and Hooch (1989)/ Splash (1984)/ Etc.
In the mid-to-late ’80s there were a series of Tom Hanks helmed B-comedies, the likes of which included Money Pit, Splash, Nothing in Common, Punchline and Turner and Hooch. I would love to see some young buck take on a multitude of low-budget productions at Hanks’ rabid pace.
6. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
With the recent financial crisis and the existence of Bernie Madoff and Marc Drier-esque figures, this could add an interesting backstory to our two protagonists.
7. Weird Science (1985)
This one may be a controversial choice, but this goofy teen sci-fi comedy is too tech-centric not to be remade. Maybe don’t even take the moniker of the original, which is almost too sacred to touch, but the plot can be extracted and reworked, possibly even gender-bent. If it attempts to make the plot actually make any sort of sense, the remake would fall apart. If it could keep the unapologetic-absurdity of the original intact, then it will stand a chance.