Last week in this time slot on MamaPop, your favorite site on the Internet, we got to talking about the impending remake of Robocop and the overwhelming sense of dread it gave me. I can’t thank you enough for the help and as soon as I’m done with therapy, I think I’ll be able to re-enter society as a moderately functioning member. In order to to get over my tidal wave of emotions, we looked at the Top 5 American remakes of American movies that do not, in fact, suck.
But what we removed from the discussion last week was American remakes of foreign films. There’s more of them. WAY more. To me, a movie-obsessed agoraphobe, I get just as queasy when they talk about remaking a great foreign film. More often than not, it seems like they’re remaking just so they can release it in the US without subtitles. Take the upcoming Spike Lee remake of the Korean film Oldboy. I LOVE OLDBOY. The thought that anyone thinks they can improve on an already damned perfect movie is unsettling.
Fortunately for all of us, the track record of American remakes of foreign films is a lot better than solely domestic remakes. The key is that, instead of being shot-for-shot remakes, these movies take what is already a proven story and inject it with our culture. The passage of time isn’t as important for foreign-to-American remakes—it’s more about the addition of fresh ideas and solid performances. So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 American Remakes That Don’t Suck!
5 – The Ring
The Ring is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this version starring Naomi Watts is a genuinely unsettling and well-done horror movie. On the other hand, it launched 14,000,000,000 other remakes of Japanese horror films that will NOT be featured on this list for the reason that they do suck.
4 – The Birdcage
The Birdcage is one of those movies that I watch to the end every time I accidentally catch it on TV. Based on the French film La Cage aux Folles, The Birdcage features probably one of the greatest dinner-party-going-straight-to-hell sequences in history. Sure, some of the stereotypes are broad, but the performances from Nathan Lane and Robin Williams also carry a real emotional weight that I always found really endearing. That and Hank Azaria steals every scene he’s in.
3 – 12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys is based on the short French film La Jette and is a trippy good time. To go into the details would spoil certain elements of the plot, so let’s just say that this Terry Gilliam film features deadly viruses, weird looking Brad Pitt, and what might be a time-traveling Bruce Willis that doesn’t involve an unsettling Joseph Gordon Levitt made up to look like him.
2 – The Departed
The Departed, a remake of the Hong Kong action flick Infernal Affairs, is the last old-school Scorcese movie we’ve had since he went all touchy-feely on us with Hugo. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon are pitted against each other in a rat vs. rat battle with America’s favorite madman, Jack Nicholson, at the center of it all. This is a rare film that actually caused me to say out loud, “OH GOD! Everyone stop shooting each other!”
1 – The Magnificent Seven
Let me be clear about something: Seven Samurai, the movie The Magnificent Seven is remade from, is my all-time favorite movie. It’s my desert island movie. So, I might be a little bit biased for picking this as my number one, but I still think this is the perfect example of how to remake a movie from a different country. This movie doesn’t just switch samurai for cowboys, it also ratcheted up the action, turned on the cool, and pretty much cast the mold for big movies that had to feature every tough guy in Hollywood.
Well, that’s what I’ve got, what about you? What’s your favorite American remake of a foreign film? Or do you think we should all just learn to read subtitles? Leave your thoughts below and tune in next week when we look at the WORST remakes of all time.