Hollywood adores recycling its greatest hits, only some films can’t be brought back so easily.
Times change. PC sensibilities do, too, thanks to our freedom-snuffing age. Suddenly, remaking some ’80s movies, for example, becomes a thorny affair.
That’s assuming the studio behind the project wants the movie to resemble the source material. Consider the liberties taken when “Jem and the Holograms” enjoyed a big-screen reboot. Another example of a reboot that went awry?
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Which brings us to the following seven films. Each came out during the Reagan Era. Each would be difficult to stage today for a number of reasons. Let’s break them down and share why we shouldn’t hold our collective breath to see them back on the big screen.
“Revenge of the Nerds” (1984)
College nerds get hammered by the university’s jocks, but they strike back by beating them at their own Greek game. This modest hit ($40 million) helped define the college experience for many a picked-upon student, even if it didn’t ignite any fashion trends (phew).
It also gave star Robert Carradine a moment where he was his famous family’s most recognizable member.
Why It Wouldn’t Fly Today: Nerds rule today. We worship the late Steve Jobs. Comic-Con is Hollywood’s most treasured marketing space. The cultural power structure shifted dramatically over the past 30-plus years. Today, the jocks might be the ones desperate for revenge. They’re often unfairly villified, most famously via the Duke lacrosse rape case.
Dustin Hoffman would have won an Oscar for this gender-bending romp if not for Ben Kingsley’s bravura turn in “Gandhi.” Hoffman plays an out-of-work actor who learns he’s more employable playing a moderately attractive woman named Dorothy than his own stubborn self.
Why It Wouldn’t Fly Today: Much of “Tootsie’s” cultural appeal would still apply now, particularly for Social Justice Warriors who see discrimination in every segment of society. Its message is feminist to the core. A flawed soul finds his humanity by putting on eyeliner and heels. But there’s the whole drag issue, a comic conceit that’s no longer part of our pop culture diet. Uncle Miltie himself couldn’t bring it back into vogue.
“Mr. Mom” (1983)
Michael Keaton starred as a father forced to care for the kiddos after losing his job. Could a dad really take care of the house while Mamma (Teri Garr) brought home the bacon?
In ’80s movies lore, that was a serious question with comical results.
Why It Wouldn’t Fly Today: Ask any stay-at-home dad if he could care for the kids while his wife is at work. Chances are he’d ball up his fingers into a fist while simultaneously changing a diaper. Maybe two.
The modern father is just as capable of handling the home front as his wife, even if the biological differences between mothers and fathers remain. The film’s whole premise no longer applies like it did back in the ’80s. That didn’t stop Hollywood from leveraging the brand for a 2019 TV series that left a microscopic mark, and that’s being kind, on the pop culture landscape.
“The Witches of Eastwick” (1987)
This underrated tale finds three women falling for the same man. The catch? They’re witches … and he’s the Devil. Literally. Who else but Jack Nicholson could pull off that gig?
Why It Wouldn’t Fly Today: The film’s gender politics would cause a national crisis. Three women pursuing one man, fawning all over him and defining their worth by his every need for much of the movie? And then they agree to share him, bickering among themselves him in the process? The story would need a massive makeover just to get greenlit.
Plus, who could out-Jack Jack?
“Fatal Attraction” (1987)
Glenn Close personified the one-night stand gone awry. All she wanted was some extra cuddle time with Michael Douglas, a married man who picked the wrong person to sow his wild oats with for a weekend. Calamity ensues. A rabbit perishes. A tawdry box office hit was born.
Why It Wouldn’t Fly Today: Why would this woman need a man so badly? Doesn’t this indict all single, sexually adventurous women? A vengeful hashtag campaign would erupt – #FatalGenderStereotypes. Why would a studio bother battling back when it could simply tell a different story?
“Pretty in Pink” (1986)
John Hughes’ quirky love triangle finds Molly Ringwald pining for the school’s handsome preppy (Andrew McCarthy). And then there’s Duckie (Jon Cryer), the eccentric with the heart of gold who longs to be longed for by Ringwald.
Why It Wouldn’t Fly Today: The cadences of ’80s teen culture would be hard to reproduce. And, like “Revenge of the Nerds” before it, Duckie would have been viewed as a credible love interest now, not a loner to be ignored by Ringwald.
Let’s not forget how the film makes the rich kid ultimately look past his family’s bank account. Would you really make a film where the one percenter gets the girl over the hipster?
“Three Amigos” (1986)
Three silent film stars (Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase), accidentally come to the rescue of a Mexican village. They may think they’re shooting a new film, but they’re really protecting the locals from the villainous El Guapo (Alfonso Arau).
Why It Wouldn’t Fly Today: Three white actors rescuing people of color? Cultural appropriation gone wild? Caucasians in outlandish Mexican attire? Just try pitching that concept in today’s Hollywood. Good luck … and duck!