ByMatthew Surprenant, writer at Creators.co
Matthew is an eclectic horror & adventure author currently residing in CA. http://matthewscottauthor.wordpress.com/
Matthew Surprenant

If there’s one trend moviegoers hate to see, it’s how many remakes Hollywood cranks out. Granted, we all love finding new, unique stories to enrich our lives, but sometimes a good story simply needs a fresh gloss of paint. This list is to show us not all remakes are bad and sometimes they can even be useful to bring cherished classics back into the limelight. Heck, sometimes it’s the remake that becomes the renowned classic...but only sometimes. Let’s get rolling.

About Last Night

The movie we know:

Somehow this take on a 1986 title of the same name has managed to pull an IMDb score exactly matching the original, 6.1. However, instead of Rob Lowe, Demi Moore and James Belushi, we get Kevin Hart and Reginal Hall. Want to hear something stranger? Both are a take on a 1974 play called Sexual Perversity in Chicago, by David Mamet. That’s the same guy who wrote Glengarry Glen Ross, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Wag the Dog and the screen adaptation of Hannibal.

The movie we forgot:

The Birdcage

The movie we know:

What most of us consider an original 90’s film starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane was actually a rehash of a 1978 flick by Jean Poiret. With the original’s accolades of 3 Oscars for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Costume Design, it was inevitable an American adaptation was going to come about. The only odd part was how long it took to happen. That and there are two French sequels.

The movie we forgot:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The movie we know:

Sometimes Ben Stiller comes out with a movie that has a core concept far beyond what we’d expect. In the case of Walter Mitty, it’s because the story was not penned by Stiller or anyone he knew, but by James Thurber in 1939 and adapted to film in 1947. Regretfully, the insertion of Stiller’s unconventional style in the recent adaptation only brings the level of greatness down several notches. The story begged for mountains of digital effects, but just not Stiller.

The movie we forgot:

Down to Earth

The movie we know:

What would you say if you learned Chris Rock and Louis C.K. decided to go all Stiller on us and recreate a 40’s movie as well? What if I told you it sucked almost as bad as Pooty Tang? That’s right, in 2001 we were given a dose of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, an acclaimed ’41 flick which also lead to Heaven Can Wait, but in Chris Rock style. He and Louis C.K. may be comedic genius, but rarely together. This one just reminds us remakes need to be faithful to originals.

The movie we forgot:

Casablanca

The movie we know:

Yes, they were doing remakes even in the 40’s. This remake got 3 Academy Awards and is remembered far and wide as landmark filmmaking. The sad part is it was actually a cash grab on a film from four years called Algiers, which featured Hedy Lamarr, Charle’s Boyer and Sigrid Gurie. Algiers wasn’t as big a financial hit as Casablanca, but set the groundwork for it. Oddly, studios didn’t intend for it to work out how it did. The budget wasn’t much bigger than the original’s, but the profit was almost five times more. Some executives even scoffed at idea of remaking something so immediately after release, but it fared insanely well.

The movie we forgot:

The Thing

The movie we know:

We all know of the mediocre 2011 sequel/remake of this one, but what many don’t realize is the 1982 Carpenter classic was an enhancement of a 1951 picture, The Thing from Another World. Both versions are about an evil alien lifeform killing off a scientific team, but the original has some silliness. The alien was actually a plant distributing pods, and that’s just where it starts. Carpenter’s sleeper hit took the elements of tension the original delivered, multiplied them, fixed some shoddy writing and created movie gold. Horror fans worldwide are glad for it.

The movie we forgot:

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

The movie we know:

Steve Martin, the comedic genius he is, has built his career heavily on homages and occasional remakes. Before Father of the Bride and Little Shop of Horrors, he was in a film called Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine. Scoundrels is actually a remake of Bedtime Story, which starred David Niven and Marlon Brando. Though the credits don’t state it as such, the character names are the same, as is most of the plot, and the same writers are credited. This remake garnered a Golden Globe nomination and a solid 87% fresh rating. I don’t know which has more prestige.

The movie we forgot:

City of Angels

The movie we know:

That’s right. Nicholas Cage, even in his prime, was doing remakes. You’ll see him pop in and out of these articles, but this particular one is especially a surprise. In 1987, the Germans beat Sir Cage when it came to Angels wooing women. It was called Wings of Desire and even had a Nick Cave (not Nick Cage) and the Bad Seeds do a cameo. The original won a Best Director award at Cannes. The remake didn’t fair near as well with critics, but made a solid $200 million in theatres. It has its charms.

The movie we forgot:

Jungle 2 Jungle

The movie we know:

Tim Allen isn’t especially known for being in quality originals, unless you count Galaxy Quest and The Santa Clause. This remake was an odd choice, because usually people try to remake cherished films or at least ones which made money. Ebert gave the original a rare zero stars, as Big Indian, Little City had to be dubbed to English and have some content trimmed. It was a flop and made $1 million domestically, but Allen actually improved it, though that improvement was a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Hey, at least it made money, rolling in $60 million off its $32 million budget.

The movie we forgot:

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

The movie we know:

Moving back to quality cinema, what many 90’s children thought was an original was Homeward Bound. With an 87% fresh rating, it’s indeed quality filmmaking. The original book was by a 1961 Scottish woman, Sheila Burnford. It was quickly made into a Disney film in 1963, featuring names for the pets like Luath, Bodger and Tao, who traversed the Canadian wilderness. Despite being dated, the original has a solid 7.1 on IMDb.

The movie we forgot:

Expect more to come!

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