Sometimes remakes are a good idea. Case in point: Baz Luhrmann's stylized 1996 take on 'Romeo + Juliet.' The story has been told countless times before on both stage and screen, but Luhrmann masterfully brought something new to the table without compromising the integrity of the original story.
This elusive combination is tough to pull off, which is why we have so many sub-par remakes (Cough, cough -- 'Fame' -- cough, cough). This week marks the release of yet another remake. This time around, Hollywood is rolling out 'Footloose' without a side of Bacon. (Yes, I mean Kevin.) To do another 'Footloose' without Bacon on board just seems wrong.
Clearly, producers are hoping that 'Footloose' will tap into the current insatiable appetite audiences seem to have for all things dance. Just look at the undying popularity of shows like 'Dancing With the Stars,' and 'So You Think You Can Dance,' not to mention the inexplicably lucrative dance movie franchises like 'Step Up' and 'Save the Last Dance.'
While the original 'Footloose' opted to cast an actor in the starring role (the Bacon), the remake is taking a gamble on a professional dancer (Kenny Wormald). 'DWTS' alum Julianne Hough co-stars as the new Ariel, a.k.a. the preacher's daughter.
This move may serve as a bit of a red flag. The 'Fame' remake was widely criticized for being all sizzle, no steak. It had plenty of dazzling dance scenes, but lacked the emotional core that made the original 'Fame' such a classic. The fact that the new 'Footloose' features dancers rather than actors indicates it may be headed in the same direction.
That said, there's been plenty of buzz about the new 'Footloose' being incredibly loyal to the original. Who knows, maybe casting dancers in the main roles in a movie about passion for dancing is an inspired decision. We shall see. In the meantime, I've compiled a list of other remakes that stuck very, very close to the originals they were paying homage to -- with mixed results.
'Let Me In,' 2010 ('Let the Right One In,' 2008). While this is an excellent remake, it's so loyal to the original that it's quite obvious it was made purely to appeal to people too lazy to read subtitles. 'Let Me In' features all of the signature scenes the Swedish original did, including the cute Rubik's cube exchange, the hospital fire and, of course, the pool confrontation.
'Psycho,' 1998 ('Psycho,' 1960). Gus Van Sant's remake may have been a little too faithful to Hitchcock's classic for some people's liking. It performed poorly at the box office, and critics asked what the point of the shot-by-shot remake was. The critical consensus seemed to be that, even though Van Sant's version was in color, it really didn't bring anything new to the table to make the endeavor worthwhile. Ouch.
'Quarantine,' 2008 ('REC,' 2007). Like 'Let Me In,' this remake seems geared towards North Americans who don't like reading subtitles. 'Quarantine' is an incredibly faithful adaptation of the popular Spanish horror flick. It stars 'Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter as TV reporter Angela Vidal (they didn't even change the heroine's name from 'REC,' not that there's anything wrong with that) who's covering mysterious events at an apartment building as they unfold.
'Arthur,' 2011 ('Arthur,' 1981). The contemporary Arthur, played by Russell Brand, is a smidge more politically correct than his '80s counterpart, embodied by Dudley Moore. While the plot is more or less the same, the changes the contemporary version did make made all the difference, and ultimately hurt the remake. The most glaring offense? Replacing Arthur's feisty, fun-loving gal (Liza Minnelli) with a boring goody-goody tour guide (Greta Gerwig). If modern Arthur had a formidable partner in crime, the remake may have done the original justice.
'Freaky Friday,' 2003 ('Freaky Friday,' 1976). Who doesn't love a good body-swapping comedy? The most recent remake, featuring a pre-breakdown Lindsay Lohan, remained quite true to the 1976 version starring Jodie Foster. It integrated a few twists to keep things relevant to a 21st century audience, such as the additions of the battle of the bands and a bad-boy biker love interest played by teen heartthrob Chad Michael Murray.