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Posted at 11:33 AM ET, 03/12/2010

Friday List: '80s movie remakes -- dos and don'ts

By By Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney

Hey Hollywood (and Jen), keep your hands off 'Sixteen Candles.' (Universal Studios)

Love 'em or hate 'em, the '80s are back at the movies in a big way. Chances are that if you visit a multiplex in the next year or so, you'll have the opportunity to see your favorite (or most despised) '80s flick, remade, revamped or reimagined. Just a few examples:

--On April 2, "Clash of the Titans" -- originally released in 1981 and kind of perfect in its mix of high (Greek myth and Laurence Olivier) and low (Harry Hamlin and stop-motion animation) brow -- arrives in theaters. This time out, Olivier is replaced by Liam Neeson, and that quaint stop-motion by CGI.

-- On April 30, Jackie Early Haley dons a shiny new pair of finger knives as Freddy Krueger in an update of "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

-- In June, "The Karate Kid" -- who as far as we're concerned will always be Ralph Macchio -- waxes on and off anew in a reboot starring Will Smith's son, Jaden.

-- In November, "Red Dawn" -- about a band of defiant middle-American teens who refuse to succumb to a Commie invasion (this made sense in 1984) -- returns to theaters, without much raison d'etre, not to mention no Patrick Swayze (obviously) or Lea Thompson.

-- "Tron" -- the cheesy yet compelling 1982 Disney sci-fi outing about a hacker (Jeff Bridges) who gets sucked into a computer -- will be reborn in December as the updated "Tron: Legacy."

And that doesn't even account for other '80s-era biggies returning in the not too distant future -- "Ghostbusters III" (2011), a rumored remake of "9 to 5" (directed by Will Smith and starring wife Jada Pinkett Smith) -- as well as other upcoming flicks that pay homage to the legwarmers decade (see "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "The A-Team").

Not all remakes are created equal. "Tron" actually looks like it might hold some promise, and at least they asked Jeff Bridges back for a cameo. But some of the titles on the reboot list are downright sacrilegious.

Out of an abundance of concern, we've each compiled lists of '80s movies that should not be remade, as well as a few that have reboot potential. Our picks follow after the jump. Read them, then add yours in the comments section.

Liz's List:

1. Don't remake "Sixteen Candles," John Hughes's first and best teen movie. Hughes's "Weird Science," on the other hand, is begging for a remake starring the original cast -- Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock and Bill Paxton -- reunited as adults.

2. Don't even think of touching "Dirty Dancing," the defining (sorry "Road House") Patrick Swayze flick, but there's another summer vacation/coming of age movie that could totally stand an update: 1980's "Little Darlings."

3. Don't remake "The Outsiders" -- it's one of my favorite movies and perfect in almost every respect, from casting (a super group of the '80s biggest young male actors) to spot-on interpretation of the S.E. Hinton book by Francis Ford Coppola. But "Suburbia," the indie punk classic about a band of "rejected" teens would totally connect with today's "Twilight" crowd.

4. Don't remake "An Officer and a Gentleman," because it's pretty perfect as is and contains one of the best on-screen kisses ever. But if we're looking for a military movie remake, please consider "Top Gun." Why? To remove all traces of Tom Cruise. Just because.

5. Don't remake "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," one of the best high school movies ever. But please, consider a remake of another high school flick -- "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." In the original, Sarah Jessica Parker played a nerdy teen determined to compete in a televised dance competition. In our "Idol"-crazed decade, the story could be recast to follow a young reality competition show hopeful.

Jen's List:

1. Don't remake "Back to the Future," the 1985 time-travel comedy that turned Michael J. Fox, flux capacitors and, yes, even Huey Lewis into the coolest things on four DeLorean wheels. Consider remaking "The Secret of My Success," another Michael J. Fox vehicle that could easily be updated, de-cheesei-fied and turned into a sly commentary on modern-day corporate America.

2. For the love of heartlights and Reese's Pieces, never, under any circumstances, remake "E.T." Instead, remake another, lesser known Drew Barrymore film from the '80s: "Irreconcilable Differences," a dramedy about a kid seeking emancipation from her self-absorbed parents that could find renewed emotional resonance in the era of Blackberry-addicted moms and dads, especially in the hands of a keen observer like filmmaker Tamara Jenkins ("The Savages," "Slums of Beverly Hills").

3. Don't remake the sublime, "That's Amore" piece of perfection that is "Moonstruck." But consider freshening up another Oscar-nominated and beloved rom-com from 1987, "Broadcast News," which could be updated to reflect an even more frenetic, 24-hour newsroom. Perhaps this version could focus on a smart female journalist torn between, say, a traditional reporter and a smooth, young blogger with a reputation for spending more time Twittering than mining his sources?

4. Don't remake pretty much anything in the John Hughes oeuvre, and that goes triple for "The Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." One exception, which I know will be controversial? I think "Sixteen Candles," if done right, could make a hell of a re-do.

The story of a teen who thinks everyone has forgotten her birthday is timeless. Imagine seeing it without all those dated, uncomfortably inappropriate ethnic jokes, with a script by Tina Fey (who brought such smarts to similar territory in "Mean Girls") and with a director who a. knows how to reflect the humorous hell that is high school, and b. desperately needs to prove he knows how to capture the female experience: Judd Apatow. Cast some plucky unknowns in the roles made legendary by Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and the heartthrob-to-end-all-heartthrobs, Michael Schoeffling, and you've got yourself a movie!

5. While I wholeheartedly disagree with Liz about "Top Gun" (get rid of Tom Cruise as Maverick? You're flying right into the danger zone, my friend), I am totally with her on this: You can't remake "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." There is, and will always be, just one Jeff Spicoli. But, since we're already talking teen movies, I do think the deeply dark "Heathers" deserves a second go-round, this time with a plot that involves nasty rumors circulating on Facebook and murder threats exchanged via text. (The school would not blow up this time because, you know, that's not funny anymore.) Who should write it? The one person worthy of reinventing dialogue like "Get crucial" and "How very": Diablo Cody.

Share your lists below...

By By Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney  | March 12, 2010; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Pop Culture  
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Howard the Duck shouldn't have been made the first time.

Other than that -- LEAVE MY 80's ALONE!!!!!!!!!!! All of them, including Xanadu. Really. I mean this. The Lindsay Lohan E*Trade suit will be nothing compared to what I will do.

I read that list and my heart just broke.

Hollywood, you can come up with bad new ideas just fine. No need to mess with my memories.

Posted by: epjd | March 12, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Hollywood, don't you DARE touch E.T. That was my favorite movie growing up - and I'm still a huge fan of Reese's Pieces (well ALL Reese's).

I could see Heathers being revamped.. that could work. But yeah, I agree, leave out the explosion hm?

Posted by: JenEFur | March 12, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I predict that in the very near future, movies will be remade before the DVD of the movie that inspired it is released.

Look for 'Avatar 2010', in theatres this afternoon.

I further predict that someone in H'wood just read this Celebritology post and that every movie named will be remade by next Thursday, and that a film, video game, televised cartoon series and a line of sexy adult pyjamas based on the comments will be available in time for July 4.

Also, look for 'Avatar 2010 #2', in theatres Monday.

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 12, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, I like some of these. Don't redo "Top Gun" or "Back To The Future"; those are both pretty awesome as they are. But I like redoing "Secret of My Success" and "Heathers", those could be solid with some good treatment.

And I will admit that I am ridiculously excited for "Tron Legacy". That trailer lit up the entire portion of my brain labeled "nerdish enthusiasm". Maybe it's all the Apple-esque design.

You know what's strange? I've been watching the ads for it, and I wouldn't mind seeing "Hot Tub Time Machine". I think it's because my expectations for it have sunk so low that I'll be happy and surprised if I get some laughs out of it.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | March 12, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Bawlmer, your odds of enjoying Hot Tub Time Machine are likely to be improved if you adapt Adam Lambert's pop star advice.

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 12, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I recently saw the trailer for the Wall Street sequel and thought it looked promising.

I will probably be dissed for this, but could be interesting to remake the Breakfast Club (my favorite Hughes movie). Back in the day, that seemed like such an edgy movie, but with more current dialog and new set of actors would find a new audience.

And, what about War Games? What a dated looking movie that is, but plot is still relevant.

Posted by: kvs09 | March 12, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

kvs09 makes an excellent general point about film dialog and/or special effects that look dated after 20-30 years.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 12, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I further predict that someone in H'wood just read this Celebritology post and that every movie named will be remade by next Thursday, and that a film, video game, televised cartoon series and a line of sexy adult pyjamas based on the comments will be available in time for July 4.

Posted by: byoolin


Sadly, I agree w/byoolin.

I can't believe I'm saying this but I hope no one in Hollywood reads this particular column today.

That said, I could see smart, talky writers like Tarantino, Diablo Cody or even Kevin Smith tackle Breakfast Club.

Though I think Tarantino's version would be far too full of cut off body parts for most tastes.

Posted by: wadejg | March 12, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Don't remake any of them. Because either they were good the first time or so bad why bother? Screenwriters have new ideas; focus on them instead.

Otherwise we might soon be treated to horrors like a remake of "Ishtar" starting Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba, "Out of Africa" with Ashley Olsen and Justin Timberlake, or "Porky's 3D."

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | March 12, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Surely "Porky's 3-D" is already in production?

Posted by: bobsewell | March 12, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Liz is right about Officer and a Gentleman. Who could say "only two things come out of Montana..." better than Lou Gossett.

Blade Runner should also be sacrosanct. As, in my opnion, should "Blue Steel." Though I'll admit I have a soft spot for Jamie Lee Curtis.

And none of the "Die Hards" should ever have been made. Never see a movie named after a car battery.

Posted by: reddragon1 | March 12, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

kvs09, thank you for reminding me about "Wall Street 2," especially since we just wrote about it in Celebritology earlier this week.

Re: "War Games" -- it has been revisited recently in a straight-to-DVD sequel version. Which was not great, but I agree, the material seems like it could easily be made relevant to 2010. With the necessary computer upgrade, of course.

Posted by: Jen_Chaney | March 12, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

How about Buckaroo Banzai (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension)? It had one of my favotie film lines: " . . .remember, no matter where you go, there you are."

Posted by: Sutter | March 12, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

This isn't a movie or for teens, but I was just thinking a remake of The Greatest American Hero with George Clooney as Maxwell & Bradley Cooper as the Hero (uh, forget his name) would be FAB. Or, if they wanted to go the silly route, Will Ferrell with his fro & Alec Baldwin as Maxwell.

Posted by: blahblah6b | March 12, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh I might be tempted by a remake of Ladyhawk... Loved that movie, heck, I still love it.

Posted by: LTL1 | March 12, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

byoolin, I may do just that.

War Games! I could dig a good remake of that. You'd have to tweak things a little bit though; I feel like the belief that national security can be penetrated for fun by a bored teenage hacker is a little dated by now. If you mixed it up with social media and online gaming, I think you could get something new and cool- but I'm not sure if it's the same movie at that point.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | March 12, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh Buckaroo Banzai - my fave line - John Bigbooty is dead, he fell on his head.

Great Friday topic!

Posted by: LTL1 | March 12, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Buckaroo Banzai! I think that was our best find during Bad Movie Night in college. I like it so much I don't think I want it remade though. How can you top Jeff Goldblum in a random cowboy suit? And Christopher Lloyd as John Bigboote ("bigbootay")? And John Lithgow as an evil alien leading his minions in a rousing chant?
"Where are we going?"
"Planet Ten!"
"When are we going?"
"Real soon!"
Okay, I have to Netflix this now.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | March 12, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh what about St. Elmo's Fire

Posted by: LTL1 | March 12, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Agree that Breakfast Club and Heathers would probably not suffer too much from updating, nor would Some Kind of Wonderful.

Remake The Lost Boys, and set the Twilighters straight.

This is going to get me in trouble, but... Do The Right Thing could be remade. I wouldn't recommend it, but it could be done without screwing with the story at all.

Whatever else happens, as long as nobody touches The Princess Bride, we're all good.

Posted by: northgs | March 12, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

What was that movie with all the Little People who traveled through time?

Oh and Goonies? Gremlins? Adventures in Babysitting?

Posted by: LTL1 | March 12, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Ditto northgs

y'all keep yer mitts off The Princess Bride you warthog faced buffoons!

Posted by: LTL1 | March 12, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Whatever else happens, as long as nobody touches The Princess Bride, we're all good.

Posted by: northgs


[Insert Wallace Shawn 'Inconceivable' reference here]

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | March 12, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Then there's the Red Dawn-ish made for TV movie "Amerika." Featuring farmers with shotguns holding off the Red Army, and Kris Kristofferson in the lead, but non-speaking, role.

Posted by: reddragon1 | March 12, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

How about that "Johnny 5" movie, this time the robots blasts Steve Guttenberg by "accident" for making such a horrible movie

Maybe "stripes" can be more modernized (will farrell?)

Posted by: slappygilmore | March 12, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Re: "Heathers", would you accept a remake as a television series, as that's rumored to be in the works.

Posted by: thurdl01 | March 12, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Time Bandits. But I'm pretty sure it's impossible to remake a Terry Gilliam movie.

And I whole-heartedly agree re St. Elmos Fire. Maybe this time there could be one character who isn't a jerk/creepy/pathetic.

Posted by: Agfras | March 12, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I do not agree with the Heathers remake. It is a cult classic and no one can give greetings and salutations quite like Christian Slater. Personnally I agree with most of those who love their 80's movies, leave them alone! Come up with another twist on the premise perhaps but do it in an original way instead of raping the ideas of your predecessors.

Posted by: desertbarbie | March 12, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

What was that movie with all the Little People who traveled through time?

That was Time Bandits, LTL1. Recently netflixed it and it was great. My kids enjoyed it too. Sean Connery as Agammemnon; John Cleese as Robin Hood. Good stuff.

Also recently netflixed the 1981 Clash of the Titans with Harry Hamlin. That was a bad, cheesy movie, but it got my 4 year old intrigued by the story of Medusa. I suspect the CGI effects in the new version would scare the daylights out of him.

Jeff Goldblum was in some good 80s movies, The Fly and Into the Night. Might be fun to update The Fly with better special effects.

I agree with no remakes of Back to the Future, the originals are fine.

Posted by: newengland1 | March 12, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Agfras, it's almost impossible to *make* a Terry Gilliam movie in the first place, especially if you're Terry Gilliam (e.g., "Munchausen," "Brazil," "Parnassus," "Don Quixote," "Brothers Grimm," etc.).

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 12, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

James Brown's body is missing, sez daughter.

I guess Papa's In A Brand New Bag.

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 12, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if it was '80s, but I would remake Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure using the original cast. With no explanation as to their age.

Posted by: groundhogdayguy | March 12, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I think Porky' 3D was already done. Do not ask me how I know this. Please, I mean it.

Posted by: epjd | March 12, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

There should be no remake of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension. Instead, the promised, never-made sequel should be produced: Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League.

As to groundhogdayguy's suggestion that Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure be re-made with the original cast, there is the minor question of who will play Rufus. I understand that George Carlin is looking a little ashy these days.

I think that Harry Hamlin and Thomas Jane should co-star as opponents in a porn version of Clash of the Titans.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 12, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I think Porky' 3D was already done. Do not ask me how I know this. Please, I mean it.

Perhaps this is the real reason Dorkus is heading to DC, to stage a Texas-style intervention.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 12, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Ice Pirates

Starring Shatner and Hasselhoff

Posted by: MStreet1 | March 12, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

sas, the director Carl French encountered the Carlin problem in one of his films. Graham Chapman interviewed him about it.

Interviewer: But surely Miss Monroe was cremated?

Carl French: Well, we had to use a stand-in for some of the more visible shots.

Interviewer: Ah! Uh, another actress.

Carl French: Dead actress. But Monroe was in shot the whole time.

Interviewer: How?

Carl French: Oh, in the ash tray, in the fire grate and vacuum cleaner...

Interviewer: So Marilyn does not appear in the film?

Carl French: Not as such.

Posted by: byoolin1 | March 12, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

For the love of God. How about leaving it at "don't". The whole point behind pop culture is to create ostensibly new stuff and tell new stories. Can't Hollywood use its immense resources to make some thing new? I'm tired of eating stale, 20-year-old fluff.

Posted by: cleanthes | March 12, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"Instead, the promised, never-made sequel should be produced: Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League."


In that vein, I would kill- kill, I say!- to see Mel Brooks make "Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money". (Or if the rumors are true, "Spaceballs 3: The Search for Spaceballs 2".)

You know what else I would love to see? "Escape From New York." That seems like you could get some high-quality action-film cheese out of it. Stick Vin Diesel in the lead role and just let him go nuts.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | March 12, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Byoo' would that count as a nude scene for Marilyn?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 12, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Altered States should be updated, but don't mess with Valley Girl.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | March 12, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget "History of the World: Part 2."

I'm still waiting to see Hitler on Ice and Jews in Space.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 12, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

How about the sequel to "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid", with a possible nude scene by Juliet?

And never mind the 80's-- why, with all that attention to useless rehashes, doesn't Disney remake their worst movie ever: "Mary Poppins"? Lily Tomlin would be great in the title role.

Posted by: limleader | March 12, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

There's already a remake of Footloose in the works. Whether it will be released or not seems to be up in the air. I can guarantee you though, that if it ever does come out, all the underage drinking and smoking from the original will be absolutely gone.

Posted by: TerriTermo | March 12, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Johnny 5? You mean Short Circuit?! According to IMDB, it's due out in 2011. Hm, wonder if they'll get rid of the blatant stereotype.

I don't think I agree that Heathers should be redone. It would have to be by the right people - maybe Tina Fey with Quentin Tarantino? Now that, I could get on board with.

They should redo Mannequin.

Posted by: blahblah6b | March 12, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

While not a re-make, I would like to see The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case screened on TCM, with Byoolin standing in for Robert Osbourne in the introduction.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 12, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

limleader, are you frackin' kidding me? Julie Andrews was perfect as Mary Poppins! If only she'd been cast as Eliza in the film of "My Fair Lady" (sigh).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 12, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Nosy_Parker: I hear that a lot, from people who have never read the books.

Posted by: limleader | March 12, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Nosy_Parker: I hear that a lot-- from people who have never read the books.

Posted by: limleader | March 12, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The film of "Mary Poppins" is sui generis. This is like comparing "My Fair Lady" to "Pygmalion," apples to oranges...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 12, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

The Goldblum "Fly" was already a remake. One of the great ones, where it was better than the original.

ep, not all knowledge needs to be shared. Only leads reckless speculation and no doubt erroneous conclusions.

Just as with the smoking and drinking in "Footloose" many of these 80s movies are reflections of their time. We must be so careful in judging the past according to contemporary morality.

Posted by: reddragon1 | March 12, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Didn't they remake Mannequin with Tyra Banks?

Posted by: LTL1 | March 12, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Walt Disney had to strongly persuade and, eventually, bribe P.L. Travers significantly in order to get her permission to bastardize Mary Poppins. If his musical version had come anywhere near as close to her stories (and depiction of the main character) as "My Fair Lady" did to "Pygmalion", you might be right. The studio should have called the thing "Barbie Nicey-Nice"; I would have less call to complain.

Of course, the world wasn't ready for an accurate version. I had some hope when "Something Wicked This Way Comes" was released, but alas. An accurate movie version of Mary Poppins would have a lot of material to draw from, and could easily rival the Harry Potter movies in terms of excitement and effect. Read the books and see.

Posted by: limleader | March 12, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

How about Earth Girls are Easy? Another Jeff Goldblum masterpiece.

Posted by: greenmountainboy | March 12, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I kind of agree with Bawlmer about Hot Tub Time Machine. The trailers look kind of good. And it's got John Cusak, so how can it be bad, right? RIGHT??? I'm still trying to convince myself that it will be ok to go see this movie.

Pretty in Pink is fairly timeless and should never ever be remade.
Coming to America could never be redone to be as funny.

I'd like to see an update of No Way Out.

Posted by: eet7e | March 12, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I will never see another movie by any director who remakes Sizteen Candles. It is perfect the way it is with Molly and AMH. They rock. And you will never find better sidekicks than AMG's nerd posse. TV show Chuck almost gets there but misses by maybe a half inch.

On the other hand, any Tom Cruise movie Hollywood wants to remake without Tom Cruise in it would be wonderful. I am tired of his trite Scientology napoleonic complex. GET A LIFE DUDE!

Posted by: Ariabob | March 15, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

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