According to the newly revamped Hollywood Reporter, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will appear in the retooled Escape from Witch Mountain/Return to Witch Mountain series for Disney. The new film, entitled Race To Witch Mountain, also features cameos by the original stars, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann. The Witch Mountain movies hold a special place for me because the Return version introduced me to Bette Davis. Miss Davis appeared as a villainess working with Hammer Films' resident Dracula, Christopher Lee. (That's Sarumon/Count Dooku to you.) Her role was in sharp contrast to that of the other famous actress Disney introduced me to, Helen Hayes. Hayes played a "good guy" role opposite Herbie the Love Bug, itself remade a few years ago with Lindsay the Drug Bug.
Disney loves remaking its features, especially those starring people who have gone on to bigger and better things like Kurt Russell and Jodie Foster. We've seen La Lohan redos of the aptly titled triumvirate of Freaky Friday, Fully Loaded and The Parent Trap. They've done live action versions of 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close complicit in Cruella De Vil's plot to boil puppies the way she did Michael Douglas' rabbit. (How else was she going to get their fur off?) Robin Williams bounced around with Flubber and The Shaggy Dog starred Santa Clause cash cow Tim Allen. Since they're so used to going back to the well, I've got a few predictions for what films Disney will do next:
Old Yeller 2008: Old Yeller is now made of CGI and has facial and body expressions generated by Daniel Day-Lewis with sensors all over his body. Day-Lewis will spend 3 months in a cage at the ASPCA to get the feel for what being a dog is like, and will demand a doghouse and a fire hydrant instead of a trailer on the set. Since it's 2008 and kids today are wussies, Old Yeller doesn't wind up on the business end of a gun. Instead, he saves his young boy hero from a well. The makers of Lassie settle out of court.
Darby O'Gill And the Vertically Challenged People: Sean Connery will come out of retirement to remake the movie he wishes he could forget he made, Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Connery's role in the original is now played by Ewan McGregor, so Connery will be digitally shrunk to play one of the vertically challenged folks. This musical reunites McGregor with Nicole Kidman, his costar in Moulin Rouge. Songs by Randy Newman and Sinead O'Connor.
Rap of the South: They'll never drag Song of the South out of the Disney vault, but that doesn't mean they can't do a politically correct version of it to capitalize on the current rap craze. The first R-rated movie under the Walt Disney Pictures banner stars Southern rap stars Andre 3000, Master P, and Li'l John in the tale of a wise old storyteller (Samuel L. Jackson) who teaches the young men in his charge how to be better fathers and sons through the magic of rap. Pixar will do the computer animations and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" will be remixed by Kanye West.
I can't wait.
In honor of this week's release of Race to Witch Mountain and how non-Shaggy Dog-level horrifying it looks, we thought we'd reminisce about a special group of Disney movies -- the rare, the few, the not that terribly objectionable remake. Since remakes are usually as childhood-rapey as they are terrible, I could only think of five, though I'm sure there are some die-hard Flubber fans out there who will cry bloody murder over its omission. (So much sarcasm! There are no die-hard Flubber fans anywhere. Aye-yi-yi, let's get going on this already!)
Disney's live-action movies have been enchanting generations of kids with their wild fantasies since the 1950s, and they've recently undergone something of a renaissance. From The Shaggy Dog and Race to Witch Mountain to next year's Tron 2 and Swiss Famiy Robinson, Disney has been slowly updating all of their classics one by one. Now Terminator: Salvation director McG is preparing to make a new 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, about the submarine terrorist Captain Nemo, and while the rumor that Race star Dwayne Johnson would star was recently shot down, we're curious to see who McG will cast (he's aiming for Will Smith). It's gotten us thinking about other classic Disney films that are due for a remake (or a sequel, a la Tron), so we came up with ten that we could see Disney dusting off.