In what can only be interpreted an attempt to ruin Christmas, Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions announced that they are producing a remake of the 1946 Frank Capra classic It’s A Wonderful Life, set for 2015. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could live up to Jimmy Stewart, but, based on the past evidence, that’s not going to stop Hollywood.
Here are 8 recent failed attempts at remakes, as described by the critics who hated them most:
1. The Stepford Wives (2004)
Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick starred in a reboot of a 1972 thriller about robot Connecticut housewives. The newer version, as J. Hoberman put it in The Village Voice at the time, “is almost desperate to show it gets its own point. What’s funny is that the joke – Invasion of the Body Snatchers reconfigured as anti-feminist backlash — was scarcely fresh when Bryan Forbes shot the first movie version nearly 30 years ago.”
2. Alfie (2004)
Jude Law taking over as the unrepentant womanizer, first played by Michael Caine in 1966, probably seemed like a good idea at the time. But perhaps Law was a little too perfect for the role. “The bed-hopping heroines of Sex and the City could spot a cad like Alfie Elkins a mile away. His carefully tousled blond mop? His devilish blue eyes? His oily pickup lines and false promises coated in a cool British ahccent? Please. Carrie and Co. might have a little naughty fun with this egocentric smarm machine, but they’d sooner send him packing with a swift Manolo Blahnik to the backside than fall in love with the creep,” wrote Sean Daly for The Washington Post.
3. Disturbia (2007)
Shia LaBoeuf plays the snoopy Jimmy Stewart role in this update of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rear Window. And though LaBoeuf managed to (somewhat) impress the critics with his performance, the rest of the film left something to be desired. “What the new movie lacks in craft, suspense and metaphoric richness it makes up for with, um, gadgets,” wrote Dennis Lim of the Los Angeles Times at the time.
4. Guess Who (2005)
This was a re-imagining of 1967′s iconic Sidney Poitier film Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, but with Ashton Kutcher. What could go wrong? Many things, according to Allison Benedikt of the Chicago Tribune: ”I’m not opposed to drawing from the well of movies past. But to remake one with such a dated and specific point of view, one that relies on the interracial relationship as hot button, is both lazy and uncomfortably nostalgic. If Theresa had brought home not Simon but Simone, we might have a movie.”
5. Arthur (2011)
Russell Brand stepping into Dudley Moore‘s boozy shoes as Arthur, the drunken, freewheeling millionaire, in theory had some potential. In execution, however, as David Edelstein put it for New York Magazine, “Russell Brand gives a career-killing performance… God, I miss Dudley Moore. He was Arthur, the cherub who smuggled tall beauties into his dressing room, who could never keep up with his satanic father figure Peter Cook as either wit or alcoholic and signaled as much with his sad eyes. Better Dudley, Liza, and the miserable Arthur 2: On the Rocks than this monstrosity.”
6. Bad News Bears (2005)
Billy Bob Thornton is serviceably angry when taking on Walter Matthau‘s snippy and apathetic baseball coach. But that wasn’t enough for Michael Booth of The Denver Post. “Walter Matthau in the beloved original was mean to his players but never really cruel. If he kept them at arm’s length, it was to save them from his own problems, and to avoid spilling his beer. Thornton and his directors have yet to master the subtlety between an endearing drunk and a sadist.”
7. The In-Laws (2003)
Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas reprise the titular duo, originally played by Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, in a movie about espionage and mismatched in-laws-to-be. “Everything sly and low-key about The In-Laws, a 1979 comedy about a dentist (Alan Arkin) and a rogue CIA agent (Peter Falk) with nothing in common except that the son of one is marrying the daughter of the other, is supersized and coarsened in Andrew Fleming’s remake,” wrote Peter Travers for Rolling Stone.
8. Psycho (1998)
Director Gus Van Sant tried to foolproof this update of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller by making it a shot-by-shot remake of the original — except with Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche in the Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh roles, respectively. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work. “The movie is an invaluable experiment in the theory of cinema, because it demonstrates that a shot-by-shot remake is pointless; genius apparently resides between or beneath the shots, or in chemistry that cannot be timed or counted,” Robert Ebert wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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