BS Trendy Gimmicks In Pop Culture Right Now
As much as we love pop-culture, there are some aspects of it we're not so thrilled with (see: its all-consuming Cthulu-like tentacle grip on our every waking moment). Also there are some recent trends we're not super-thrilled with. So if you're reading this and you happen to some kind of bigwig in the entertainment industry, can you maybe cool it with ...
Not Every '80s and '90s Movie Needs to Become a Musical
People loved the recent Broadway version of Beetlejuice, easily the best lavish musical about a rotting sex demon who tries to marry a high schooler. But it's part of a larger trend, a rash of random '80s and '90s properties being turned into big-budget musicals. Like Back to the Future, a movie that won't get a cinematic update anytime soon, but is being remade on the stage. Good news for anyone who's dying to hear a powerful ballad about fending off their mom's aggressive horniness.
Then there's Mrs. Doubtfire, a musical based on the hit Robin Williams movie about a divorcee who loveabley cons his way back into a house he was ordered by law to leave. Did this really need to be a musical? One in which Mrs. Doubtfire straight-up looks like a Dick Tracy villain for some reason?
It doesn't stop there; there's also a musical based on The Karate Kid, the sitcom The Nanny, and even Pretty Woman, which was scored by Bryan Adams and presumably written by the year 1990 itself. It's kind of like the grown-up version of those live tours that get marketed to kids, in which vaguely recognizable versions of beloved characters perform mostly unrecognizable songs. Like when the Ninja Turtles had their "Coming Out of Their Shells" tour, and defeated Shredder using the power of keytars and bedazzled sleeveless jean jackets.
Of course, most of these modern Broadway shows don't involve donning green rubber suits or making awkward oral sex jokes in front of Oprah.
Splitting Sequels into Two Parts is a Scam We Shouldn't Encourage
Sequels aren't Twix bars, they don't need to be split into two. This modern trend was first popularized when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released in two parts. That move made sense at the time since fans were increasingly bemoaning the amount of book material each movie was forced to scrap. But even at the time some moviegoers were skeptical, and the film's producer David Heyman had to "swear" it was done for "purely creative reasons."
Then the fourth and final Twilight book,Breaking Dawn was broken into two movies, a decision that was announced before the third movie was even released. Which seems suspicious. The same thing happened with the Divergent series and The Hunger Games, with studios gobbling up teen readers' money like Pac-Man with pixelated dots.
This strategy, seemingly born less out of artistic merit than of financial avarice, has been oddly normalized these days. People thought that It: Chapter 2 should be two movies. Most bafflingly co-writer Chris Terrio thought that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker should have been split into two movies, really messing with the whole "trilogy" part of Disney's sequel trilogy. It's one thing to have a unique story you want to tell over the course of multiple films, like the recent Avengers movies or the upcoming Mission: Impossible films. But we've become so weirdly okay with studios milking source material dry in unnecessary multi-part sequels that somehow Peter Jackson's decision to turn The Hobbit, a modest 300-page children's book, into a bloated trilogy didn't incite a goddamn riot in which we all burned Gandalf and Bilbo in effigy.
We're Getting More Franchise Comics Based on Crappy Early Screenplays
Often the first draft of a film's screenplay differs greatly from the finished product -- that's why Marty McFly didn't travel to the past in an old refrigerator, Indiana Jones didn't casually seduce his students, and the Transformers movies evolved beyond crude drawings of robots on cocaine-dappled nightclub napkins. Lately we've seen a lot of these early script drafts turned into comic books, providing alternate versions of classic films. Yes, it's kind of cool to see what Rod Serling's vision of Planet of the Apes looked like without studio interference. And it's somewhat interesting to see George Lucas' original version of Star Wars in which Han Solo is a green alien and Luke is an old bearded dude.
This summer we're getting the Predator: The Original Screenplay comic -- but Predator was an almost perfect movie that was improved greatly by its director and cast. Do we really need an illustrated, likely much crappier Predator? Disappointingly, the comic Predator isn't even drawn like Jean-Claude Van Damme in a rubber lobster suit.
The same goes for Alien: The Original Screenplay, which looks a lot like the classic movie, but 20% goofier. And it seems like nearly every unproduced Kevin Smith movie has been turned into a comic book, including The Green Hornet and the "Bionic Man" which was originally Smith's reboot of The Six Million Dollar Man. These comics are interesting curiosities, but are they really any better than just reading the actual script? More and more it seems like adapting these scrapped early drafts is just a way to tell "new" stories in franchises that have exhausted all other story avenues.
The Same Old Police Procedurals Starring Characters From Famous I.P.s
The police procedural show has been around almost as long as TV itself; from Dragnet to Law & Order to the blood-and-semen-stained laundry list of Law & Order spin-offs. These days Hollywood has been selling us familiar police procedurals, but with a famous fictional character in the lead. Like Elementary, which is basically just a typical procedural but with a British dude who happens to be named "Sherlock Holmes." Similarly Sleepy Hollow is yet another FBI show, but with Ichabod Crane, and Lucifer is a cop show, but with, well the devil.
Now we're getting a new CBS show about an FBI agent -- but this time it's about a post-Silence of the Lambs Clarice Starling. And, no, Hannibal Lecter is "not expected" to show up. (Also Clarice is being produced and co-written by Alex Kurtzman, so presumably it will feature some sort of baffling 9/11 allegory.) We wouldn't be surprised if NBC's series about The DaVinci Code protagonist Robert Langdon turns out to be another boring network show, but with the guy from your parents' book collection. Our collective obsession with pop-culture franchises is in many ways forcing creators to innovate -- but in this case it allows networks to keep selling us the same stale formula over and over again, with only tenuous connections to original thing anybody cared about in the first place.
Commercials That Act as Sequels to Classic Movies
Beloved pop-culture characters have been appearing in commercials since way back when Fred Flinstone shilled for big tobacco. Now whenever a corporation wants to blow a wad of dough on a TV spot they often hire an actor to reprise an iconic role, creating a sort of mini-sequel to a classic movie. LIke when Matthew Broderick took a "day off" Ferris Bueller-style in a Superbowl ad -- which was decidedly less charming when it was about an adult trying to extol the virtues of a Honda. Then there was the time Macauley Culkin played an adult Kevin McCallister purely to hype Google ... while also kind of insinuating that Kevin killed his entire family and now relives the Christmas of 1990 over and over again in his deranged mind.
Not to be outdone, Xfinity enlisted Henry Thomas to once again play Elliot in a follow-up to E.T.: The Extraterrestrial -- though the commercial conveniently skips over the scene where Elliot has to explain to his wife why this haggard alien made of ballsacks will be indefinitely crashing in their guestroom. The commercial seemed to divide audiences who weren't thrilled with the crass exploitation of Steven Spielberg's heartwarming Reese's Pieces commercial.
Jeff Bridges became the Dude again for a beer commercial also featuring Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw, for a crossover even more random than the pop-culture dart game that is the Scooby-Doo franchise. And Bill Murray reprised the role of Phil Connors from Groundhog Day who finds himself going through yet another existential time warp nightmare. But this time instead of self-improvement and human connection, his salvation was a sweet new Jeep! If you think it's old now, wait until CGI paves the way for Marlon Brando's Don Corleone to show up in a goddamn Olive Garden with ... well, probably E.T. and Carrie Bradshaw.
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Top Image: Backtothefuturemusical.com