The Heartbreak Kid and the Most Botched Remakes of Comedy Classics
They don't make comedies like they used to... and that's a good thing. Why? Because every time someone tries updating a comedy classic for the 21st century, they instead end up smearing poop all over it, whether they intend to or not...
The Ladykillers (2004)
A remake of: The Ladykillers (1955)
A crew of criminals rents a room in an old lady's home, attempting to carry out an elaborate heist from her basement without her noticing. If someone could remake the classic Alec Guinness/Peter Sellers black comedy while doing it justice, it's the Coen Brothers. Note that we said "could." Unfortunately, they didn't.
Generally acknowledged as the worst Coen Bros. movie, their remake turns a darkly clever cinematic masterpiece into a lightweight comedy that somehow feels like it's missing an act despite lasting 1 hour and 44 minutes. Admittedly, there are some great performances tucked in there (J.K. Simmons is physically incapable of phoning it in), but Marlon Wayans' character is totally out of place, acting more Farrelly Bros. than Coen Bros. And, hey, speaking of the Bizarro Coens...
The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
A remake of: The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
When the original Heartbreak Kid starring Charles Grodin came out, the idea of starting a romantic comedy with the main guy realizing he's annoyed by his new wife was hilariously transgressive. It pushed the boundaries of the genre and exploited the awkwardness of its situations to maximum comedic effect. By the time the Ben Stiller-led remake came out 35 years later, this concept was nowhere near as mind-blowing, so the Farrellys' decision to tone down the satire in favor of some tired, gross-out jokes is just baffling.
Still, we're not ranking this one last because at least it gave us Danny McBride indignantly saying, "Smells like someone's been hitting the devil's lettuce."
The Pink Panther (2006)
A remake of: The Pink Panther (1963)
Yeah, it took a long time for Hollywood to accept that Peter Sellers just can't be replicated or even approximated. While Steve Martin came the closest to doing that and produced what are the most successful non-Sellers movies in the Pink Panther franchise, that really isn't saying much. His version of Inspector Clouseau is more of a cartoon than the Pink Panther itself, and it's kind of depressing that this movie's obvious attempts to reach the broadest audience possible worked well enough to warrant an even lamer sequel. Hey, Hollywood: you stay the hell away from Dr. Strangelove, you hear? (Or you'll have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company.)
A remake of: Overboard (1987)
Admittedly, it took a while for society to come around and think of the original Overboard as a cult classic. The idea of a guy tricking an amnesiac woman into thinking she's his wife was always deeply creepy, but the original was saved by Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn's undeniable chemistry and clever zingers. Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez have none of that.
The gender-switched remake manages to strip any charm the original might have had while doing everything possible to turn the story into the most formulaic 2010s rom-com imaginable. But who knows; maybe decades from now, someone will praise this uninspired turd as a cult classic while lamenting that the re-remake sucks.
Guess Who (2005)
A remake of: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
A woman brings a boyfriend from another race to meet her family; deep insights into American society OR lazy race jokes ensue, depending on which version you're watching. The very idea of remaking the heartfelt and subtly funny Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, a movie that could have only come out of the social and political context of the late '60s, is deeply wrong. The idea of doing it with a bumbling Ashton Kutcher in Sidney Poitier's place goes beyond that and seems like something that should only ever be suggested as a 30 Rock gag. Then again, reality has been plagiarizing that show a lot lately:
If the film industry had any decency, they'd just leave this premise alone and look to the original as an inspiration and not something to swipe. Of course, it doesn't, so they're trying it again with Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy:
Thumbnail: Paramount Pictures