The movie “Footloose” has recently been remade into a 2011 version starring Denise Quaid and Julianne Hough. I probably will not be watching the movie unless someone hires me to review it. Although I am not an aficionado of the 1984 version, I do enjoy the acting of Kevin Bacon and John Lithgow.
In the remake, Quaid is playing the role originated by Lithgow, although sadly and without a doubt, Quaid is not as strong an actor as Lithgow. I do not particularly want to watch Quaid flounder as the puritanical preacher/dad. Try to picture Quaid in the Lithgow’s part in “3rd Rock from the Sun” or “The World According to Garp” or “Terms of Endearment.” Lithgow has a range that Quaid can only dream of; however, Quaid does have his talents as the pretty-boy pick and has served well in that role in other movies that required his cat-who-ate-the-canary grin and boyish charm.
While there is no doubt that Julianne Hough is a better dancer than Lori Singer, is Hough an actress powerful enough to overcome other cast shortcomings?
Andie McDowell is also cast in the remake. Andie McDowell is a beautiful woman, and great as a spokeswoman in L’Oreal commercials, but all one has to do is appraise her work in “Groundhog Day” (1993) – great movie, bad casting of her, “The Muse” (1999) – whenever she spoke the hairs on my arms stood up as if someone had taken nails down a chalk board and “Green Card” (1990) to understand her limited abilities. Apparently, she can memorize lines but she cannot act. It is painful to watch her attempt to act. I won’t pay to see a movie with her in it. I think McDowell’s most appropriately titled movie was “The Object of Beauty.” Enough said.
This brings me to discuss the idea of remaking movies. Sometimes, a remake is very innocuous or harmless, as the first version of the movie was not iconic or a creative break though. I can think of remakes that did not make me wince, such as Scorsese’s remake of “Cape Fear”(1990) starring Robert Deniro (with a feature by Robert Mitchum who played the Deniro role in the original 1962 film) or Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong (2005) starring Naomi Watts, as I feel that Jackson’s remake is actually the best of the three King Kong movies currently on film. These remakes had their own individual following and strength of originality and creative success.
However, there have been remakes that have irritated and frustrated me, and generally offended my movie-going pallet. One such remake was “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005). The original version, titled “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”(1971), starred Gene Wilder with Jack Albertson as one of the supporting cast members. I’m not sure that Wilder can be replaced in the role of Wonka, because he was just the right mix of stern parent-cynical genius-loving creator.
While I give Tim Burton and Johnny Depp props for attempting to remake the original, the 2005 version failed miserably for me. It was one of the few movies where I walked out during the feature. Johnny Depp played Wonka as a weak, emotionally-detached, airheaded alien. I have loved Depp in roles that have ranged from “Edward Sissorhands” (1990) to “Donnie Brasco”(1997) to Polanski’s “The Ninth Gate”(1999). However, he and Burton have to share the failure of this remake equally. It was a portrayal of Wonka that shocked my conscience, and should stand as a reminder to Hollywood that if you are going to do a remake, then do it well and creatively. As always, though, Burton’s quirky creative flair was evident – I just could not get over Depp’s portrayal of Wonka.
Another remake that failed on many levels for me was Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. The original from 1960, directed by Hitchcock, starred Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkin as Norman Bates. At the time the movie was ground-breaking and controversial for its provocative camera angles and startling scenes, including the bathtub scene in which Janet Leigh is stabbed to death and the end scene where Perkins’ Bates is clearly demented and adorning his mother’s dress and wig in a very surprising twist. Janet Leigh was perfect as the good-girl-gone bad while Perkins emitted the right vibe of evil-psychotic-vulnerable. Even the Bates Motel itself was a character of foreboding and suspense.
The 1998 remake starred Anne Heche in the role originated by Janet Leigh and Vince Vaugh as the psychotic slasher Norman Bates. Heche is a very respectable actress, and the failing of this remake does not fall on her shoulders. However, Vince Vaugh was incredibly miscast in the role of Bates. Vaugh is great in beer drinking movies or as the anti-hero, as in “Dodgeball (2004), but he seemed more bored than psychotic in the movie. Also missing were Hitchcock at the helm and the surprise twists that initially enamored audiences. The Bates Motel was also disappointing. This movie did not do or say anything new. I did, however, enjoy the work of William H. Macy in the movie.
There was nothing necessary about either the remake of the Willy Wonka classic or the remake of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. Time will tell if the same will be said of this recent remake of “Footloose.”
Thank god that “Citizen Kane”(1941) and “Casablanca”(1942) and “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) have not been remade into current movies starring Dennis Quaid or Andie McDowell or perhaps even Madonna as Norma Desmond. I hope by writing this article I am not giving an idea to some movie producer down on his/her luck!
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