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...
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.
Dig it, you dancing queens.
The day that every child of the '80s has dreaded is here: the just-released trailer for Craig Brewer's Footloose confirms that this remake of the beloved 1984 classic is a real thing that will actually be in theaters in October to teach a whole new generation about the dangers of censorship and the exhilaration of dancing around abandoned warehouses in a wife beater. Based on this early glimpse, Footloose 2.0 looks an awful lot like its predecessor, right down to the VW Bug our hero Ren (professional dancer Kenny Wormald slipping into the tight, tight jeans previously worn by Kevin Bacon) drives around the small Southern burg of Bomont, which has banned dancing and "dangerous" music after five kids died in a car accident following a wild party. Sure there's a lot of truth to the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," but there are a few ways Brewer could update the '84 version to reflect this modern age. For example...
My casting dreams came true this week when Chace Crawford was announced as Zac Efron's replacement in that completely necessary remake of Footloose we're getting. Since this is irrefutable proof that I am psychic, I thought I'd toss out some other random '80s movies the Gossip Girl kids will most definitely be remaking in the near future. Because why let the rest of the decade's pop culture go by unbastardized, you know? Oh, and remember -- the theme is '80s movies. Say Blair should remake Breakfast at Tiffany's in the comments and you will be ridiculed. Alright, let's go, people! It's fan fiction time!
I'm not going to lie -- Zac Efron, for all the High School Musical-y stuff he's done (I can't drive two blocks without seeing him jumping ecstatically in a cap and gown), earned my respect for his stint as Link in Hairspray. For all the fun I'd normally make of a guy with hair as floppy and in need of cutting as his, I won't, because what John Waters has joined together, let no blogger put asunder. So, it is with humility and a straight face that I bring you the news that the Footloose remake that will star one Mr. Zac Efron, has gotten the blessing of Kevin Bacon. I'm sure we'll all sleep better.
Obviously, no one needs a remake of Footloose. But since Hollywood hates us all and insists on going ahead with this flushing-cash-down-the-toilet project, the least they could do is keep their casting appropriate. That was the case up until yesterday, when it was announced that Zac Efron apparently figured out what a bad idea a Footloose remake is, for both his career and for the world, and dropped the hell out of it. So who's going to replace him as Kevin Bacon 2.0? Here are some people.