All These Eighties Remakes Are Destined to Fail
By Jo Piazza Posted Apr 4th 2011 03:00PM
Yes, we're talking about MTV's remake of 'Teen Wolf' and the impending redux of 'Top Gun,' 'Footloose,' 'Red Dawn' and 'Teen Witch.'
'Teen Wolf' is the first of these remakes to go public, and advance reviews aren't great. Our pals over at Moviefone went so far as to compare it to 'Twilight.' Fans of the original won't consider that a compliment.
In the '80s, everything was a little bit ridiculous -- from the hairstyles to the legwarmers to Nancy Reagan's war on drugs. That absurdity bled into movies -- to their benefit. That's why we had films where Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman convince the entire Hamptons their dead boss was a party animal (twice), where a man falls in love with a mannequin (also twice), where teen boys become wolves (the '80s loved nothing better than a sequel) and teen girls become witches.
"'Teen Wolf,' 'Top Gun' and 'Footloose' were all hits in their day because the ridiculousness of the eighties provided the perfect framework for these camp masterpieces," explains Hollywood.com's Paul Degarabedian. These are crazy plots, and the '80s handled them with their appropriate camp. We no longer live in an age of such absurdity, and Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to do camp well. That leaves these ridiculous plots feeling oddly earnest, which makes them uncomfortable.
"These are concepts from an era of willful naivete: Reagan-era reactions to the Cold War, oppressive authority and outsiders made good. There's absolutely a cheesiness to their fashion, language and production values, but you REALLY see their age in their ideology. We've changed radically as a culture, and if we judge that era's big hits as camp, it's because our '80s optimism and earnestness has given way to 21st-century cynicism and irony," says Movieline's S.T. VanAirsdale.
Take the MTV remake of 'Teen Wolf': It offers earnest brooding and self-reflection on what it really means to be a teenage boy who is also a werewolf. Michael J. Fox's Scott Howard wasn't a brooder. He was just psyched he could finally dunk. Something has been lost in translation.
And the original audience -- people like me who grew up believing that Macy's mannequins come to life as pretty ladies at night and mermaids lived in bachelors' bathtubs -- is going to be sadly disappointed by the revisited versions that can't hold a candle to something that was awesome when we were 7 years old.
And while these films did seem awesome when we were 7 (and by "we," I am including all the Gen Y filmmakers who think these remakes make good fiscal sense), none of them were giant box office boons.
For better or worse, we live in a new age, and we need new narratives for it. Revisiting the old ones won't bring back our childhoods and probably won't make a ton of money.
Watch the 'Teen Wolf' Trailer.
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