This week's release of Death at a Funeral on DVD and Blu-ray, a quick remake featuring African-American characters instead of British caricatures, and the upcoming theatrical release of Let Me In, an English-language remake of the terrific and very recent Swedish film Let the Right One In, are blunt reminders that it's never too soon to remake a movie, as long as you change the ethnicity and/or language of the original.
Rather than complain (again) about such remakes, I thought it might be helpful to suggest more movies that are ripe for remaking with the twist of racial reinvention. Remember, the idea is not to pick movies based on quality (or lack thereof), but on marketable concepts and under-performing box office (so no suggestions that Avatar should be remade with alien military forces taking over a Wall Street brokerage house where only Caucasians work). Additional points of honor for keeping the title but shortening it, a la Let Me In. Full disclosure: no prizes will be awarded and no wagering, please. Let's begin with my seven top picks.
1. Jennifer's Body
Scripted by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, this feminist drama masquerading as a horror film did not live up to box office expectations. Much of the criticism was leveled at Megan Fox who, it must be acknowledged, did her best. So why not let everyone's fantasies go wild with a quick remake starring Jennifer Lopez (Jennifer's Mother's Body?) and/or Gabourey Sidibe (from Precious; no questions about her acting ability, and the body image / reliance on men issues would come to the forefront). The possibilities are endless.
2. Death at a Funeral
OK, so neither the faux-British take original take nor the African-American remake really caught fire. (I'm not sure about the Bollywood version.) Why not keep trying until audiences respond? I say an annual remake is in order; let all races and every ethnicity suffer the indignity of being caricatured. The only constant should be Peter Dinklage as the blackmailer.
With all the flap over the very idea that a black actor might be considered for Spider-Man, why was no attention paid to a Marvel movie character desperately in need of reinvention? All the components were in place, but Ben Affleck wasn't able to overcome the script and direction by Mark Steven Johnson. The Hell's Kitchen neighborhood is no longer the rough and tumble home of Irish gangsters, as it was once upon a time, so let's have a new Daredevil of color (underneath his red mask and body suit). That kind of reinvention might tie in with the comic version, where Marvel has had no qualms about turning Matt Murdoch evil in recent issues, and hinting that a new Daredevil is in the offing.
A much beloved television series gets a second life on the big screen; cast and crew deliver a jolting good time, yet the wider, mainstream audience did not respond. Here's a case, perhaps, where there was too much racial diversity in the cast. Nathan Fillion and the gang had such terrific chemistry, though, it would be a shame to waste them, so why not just push it out again with everyone computer-painted blue, a la Avatar, and add 3-D effects while you're at it? This would be much cheaper than the proposed official Avatar sequels.
5. Hot Fuzz
Brilliant concept -- hard driving cop from London is exiled to quiet little rural town, yet still sniffs out crime -- and brilliant execution, but perhaps the British accents put Americans off from watching it? So, following the example of Death of a Funeral, why not transfer the action to a small town in the South, where an intense cop from New York City is exiled, and cast (mostly) African-American actors? Add in a touch of shameful bigotry in the person of a Caucasian authority figure, and maybe you've got something.
6. The Love Guru
Great concept, poor execution, and audiences stayed away. Mike Myers couldn't find the funny in the material, but the self-help biz is still ripe for ridicule. Aziz Ansari could knock this out of the park, I bet, riffing openly on the religious and racial issues that the original carefully skirted.
7. Year One
Jack Black and Michael Cera failed to light up the screen, and the film only did "OK" at the box office in comparison to its reported budget. Why not turn the reins over to a man who knows how to deal with lower budgets and prehistoric humor? Yes, I'm talking Tyler Perry, who could turn a remake into a treatise on the right way for men to deal with women, and will not stint on the spirituality: a Higher Power should always be welcome in a
Now it's your turn. Remember, we're just having fun, so don't take anything written here too seriously.