Take a feisty Jane Austen heroine, put her in an inner-city high school, give her some hip-hop numbers to sing and dance to, and you've got a new "reimagining" of Emma. The new Screen Gems project just announced was inspired by the video for "Lip Gloss" by Lil Mama, which seems like it would inspire someone to buy lip gloss (it's poppin'!) more than anything, but there you go.
Clint Culpepper of Screen Gems says this is to be an Emma for the new millennium. The original Emma Woodhouse was a twenty-one-year-old young woman with enough money of her own that she could spend more time matchmaking for her friends and acquaintances rather than worrying about her own future. In the end, though, she falls for Mr. Knightley, who's quite a bit older than her, which was fairly common in Regency England. In the "new millennium," how would that play out? Would thirty-something George Knightley show up at a rendezvous, expecting to be set up with a teenaged girl, only to be greeted by a To Catch a Predator camera crew? Would he be an old lech with a fake MySpace account? A group of mean girls with a fake MySpace account?
Probably not. Hopefully not. The original was pretty lighthearted fare, with relatively little angst from the heroine, and the music video which inspired this new version is shiny, catchy fun. Emma was redone with a modern setting before in Clueless, also in a lighthearted way. The script for this latest is being written by Tyger Williams, who also penned the story for Menace II Society, which might not bring to mind happy fluff, but Screen Gems has had past success with other hip-hop movies. Ultimately, it depends on Culpepper's definition of "reimagining." Will the new Emma be spoiled but ultimately charming, or just a modern day spoiled brat?