1. Annie. This is another one I won’t watch out of principle, for reasons too many to list here. But one reason is enough: anyone other than Carol Burnett playing Miss Hannigan is a travesty, my friends—travesty! And anyone other than Albert Finney playing Daddy Warbucks follows suit. Don’t mess with perfection.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. See my feelings on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for this one: sweet, whimsical story devolves to dark, crass creepfest. The worst part is, this movie seems here to stay. It’s got a huge following, and runs and re-runs on every tv station, at every kids’ Christmas party, in every kids’ classroom from Thanksgiving to Christmas, every single year. I can’t tell you how many December afternoons have found me volunteering at the elementary school, quietly laminating candy cane collages, only to overhear Jim Carrey’s slobbery drawl blast into the tender young ears of our children as they haplessly eat their lunch. This gross caricature of the cartoon classic, combined with the smell of “enchiladas” wafting from the cafeteria, is enough to make me wait and eat lunch when I get home.
I prefer this guy.
3. Love Affair. (Based on An Affair to Remember, 1957) The fact that you probably never saw this mushy remake of An Affair to Remember speaks well of your good taste, and points to my bad. (Disclaimer: my roommate rented it in college, otherwise I’d plead ignorance.) How is it that, with our generation’s haughty pride in its intellectual progress and verbal savvy, all of our remakes are so much duller than their 1960s predecessors? Aren’t we supposed to be the clever generation, with our deadpan humor and raw wit? As with the remake of Parent Trap, the writers of Love Affair obviously have little faith in their audience’s intelligence; they seem afraid to create any tension between the characters, for fear that it will disrupt the romantic (in this case, sappy) flow of things. You can’t just put two has-been hotties onscreen (Warren Beatty and Annette Benning, married in real life, gag-o-rama), cue up a drippy soundtrack, and expect viewers to swoon when there’s not a trace of harmonic discord to keep us wondering if they’ll ever get together. Let Annette Benning roll her eyes and mock Warren Beatty a little, just like Deborah Kerr did to Cary Grant in the original. It’s ok; we get it. (see: We Are Smart Enough.) We know that lovers can tease and get irritated with one another. Let them be sarcastic and grumpy sometimes; we can relate. The best love stories always start with two deeply flawed characters. Pride and Prejudice. Wuthering Heights. Casablanca. Anna Karenina. (Well, the love story between Kitty and Levin was beautiful. That whole Vronsky/Anna/throw-momma-in-front-of-a-train thing thing was a hot mess.)
4. Jane Eyre, 2011 version. This was the latest remake in a string of remakes–in fact, so numerous are the versions of this film that I’m not sure any of them qualify as an actual “remake.” But for the purposes of this post, we’ll dice up the 2011 version.
I had a gaggle of girlfriends over for a special viewing, so excited was I to see yet another film adaption of one of the greatest novels ever. The movie got decent reviews by the critics, but I personally found it painful. It was beautifully filmed, richly detailed, well acted—with absolutely no chemistry between Jane and Rochester. It’s like the movie thought of everything except the passionate love story upon which it was based. And you don’t cast a hottie to play Rochester (Michael Fassbender, yum.) See #3: the leading characters can be imperfect. We know Rochester is supposed to be unattractive; that’s a big part of the charm in his dark but passionate personality. He and Jane’s plainness is what we love about their love story; it’s all about their their intelligence, their past tragedies, and their connection with each other. The fact that most people wouldn’t find Rochester loveable is what makes Jane’s doing so all the better.
Versions of Jane Eyre abound, but one of my faves is Masterpiece Theater’s 2007 version (Rochester is so good in this one, I’m willing to overlook that he’s still a bit too handsome.) Next I want to see the 1996 version with William Hurt. I heard it was mass creepy. Yum.
5. Karate Kid. I saved this one for last, because there’s a bad movie remake, and then there is blasphemy. The remake of Karate Kid, starring whats-his-brat Smith, belongs in the latter. (I can’t believe I missed this one in my first list; my sharp cousin was kind enough to point it out to me.) I could wax poetic for pages about all the good things turned bad with this remake, but I know you’re reading this when you should be paying attention to your kids or loving on your Hub, so I’ll make a short list in the name of brevity. (Which is something I seldom do.) (Period.)
1. Daniel Larusso was kind, honest, and respectful.
“Dre” is a total brat.
2. Daniel adored his mother and treated her with respect. “Dre” despised his mother. (see #1: “total brat.”)
3. Daniel was thankful for everything he got. “Dre” spat on everything he got. (His name requires quotes, every time. Just ’cause.)
4. Daniel was in high school, up against some serious odds and seriously beefy bullies. “Dre” was a tween brat up against other tween brats. We weren’t worried for him like we were for Daniel–eleven-year old bullies just aren’t scary enough. And so we weren’t as thrilled by his triumph. Daniel was young enough for kids to relate to and old enough for adults to recognize their awkward teen selves in. Against the Cobra Kai, who couldn’t love Daniel?
5. The China setting in the remake was too exotic and thus took the relatable quality out of the movie. That Daniel was a middle-class kid trying to fit into any-high-school USA is something that most of us can relate to. The whole China thing was too glitzy and global. (No offense, China.)
6. The mom in the remake was boring and weak. Remember Mrs. Larusso? LOVED.
7. The “romance” in the remake was a joke–and a kind of a creepy one at that. I didn’t need to see two eleven year olds make out. Daniel and Ali’s romance struck the perfect chord of fresh young love; they didn’t take it too seriously, but it was all from the heart. Loved.
8. Daniel Larusso was cool without being “cool.” His clothes were a little frumpy and dated, even for that time period, his glasses were too big, he rode a dorky bike. But this was his charm. He was the cool guy without money; cute without trying too hard. Unlike his bullies, who had the Izods and convertibles, which made them perfectly delicious villians. This is why we cheered Daniel on: he was the ultimate, loveable underdog.
Irresistable. “Dre,” on the other hand, claimed supercoolness from frame one. Bugged.
9. In the remake, there was no “wax-on, wax-off!” “paint-the-fence up-and-down, side-to-side!” “sand-the-floor!” There was no crane kick practice on the beach. There was no spaghetti-all-over-his-shirt-at-the-country-club. There was no Mom picking him and his date up in a station wagon that breaks down. There was no skeleton-clad bullies chasing down a running shower on Halloween night. And there was no “You’re the best!” signature song at the All-Valley Karate Tournament. Come on…these iconic moments are the heartbeats of the movie! Dang it if listing them doesn’t make me want to watch it all over again.
10. The writing in the remake was terrible. No–”terrible” lends it too much weight. The writing was vapid. Unoriginal, uninspired, unfunny. I can’t remember a single scene or phrase from this movie. I just remember a blur of brattiness against a loud and splashy backdrop. As opposed to the original, which I’ve been able to quote, frame by frame, since it’s release in 1984. I was eleven years old; the perfect age to fall truly madly deeply in love with both the movie and its hero. Thank you, Ralph Machhio, for making my middle-school existence bearable. Love.