Footloose and The Thing: A Tale of Two Remakes

by Ethan Alter October 14, 2011 10:40 am
<i>Footloose</i> and <i>The Thing</i>: A Tale of Two Remakes

If nothing else, this weekend's dueling '80s remakes offer some instructive lessons in how to -- and how not to -- update a pair of widely liked films that still loom large in the pop culture imagination... at least for those folks old enough to remember the difference between a Goonie and a Gremlin. Craig Brewer's Footloose is a strikingly faithful adaptation of Herbert Ross's 1984 "rebel with a cause (and a groovy beat)" teen musical that rocketed Kevin Bacon to stardom. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s The Thing is technically a prequel to, but really a loose remake of, John Carpenter's 1982 monster movie, which bombed in theaters at the time but has since become a genre touchstone. As is often the case with remakes, neither movie is likely to supplant the original in moviegoers' hearts. But only one truly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as its predecessor. The other is destined to remain in obscurity, living out the rest of his post-theatrical days in the discount DVD bin at big box stores and the 2 AM timeslot on a random cable movie network.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Remakes (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Anyone over the age of 25 is going to experience some déjà vu when they head to their multiplex this weekend and see Footloose (Original Release Year: 1984) and The Thing (Original Release Year: 1982) emblazoned in big, bold letters on the marquee. No, they haven't accidentally entered a time warp back to the '80s (or even further back, since the '82 Thing was actually a remake of a 1951 picture) -- they're just part of the remake culture that seems to pervade contemporary Hollywood. In the current climate, no pre-existing movie is too good (or, in the case of, say, My Bloody Valentine, too bad) to be dusted off for another go-around. This weekend's double bill of dueling '80s remakes is just another example of what results when the past is routinely pillaged to create product for the present. It also inspired us to ruminate a little bit on some of the questions that the subject of remakes inspire, questions like...

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