They are building a moat, this machine of Hollywood. It surrounds the entirety of their kingdom of nostalgia. Beyond the moat is the land of original ideas, where great risks stalk drifters through forests of uncertainty. Inside the kingdom lies all the most familiar brands of yesteryear — the likes of The A-Team and Get Smart — all being mined for every bit of entertainment sheen they have left. There’s no end to the vast array of stories already told, and no end in sight to Big Hollywood’s desire to bring back those ghosts and parade them around on much bigger, pop-soundtracked stages.
Clearly I’ve been reading too much George R.R. Martin lately, but the analogy fits. In recent years, the escalation of Hollywood’s mining of great things of the past has been blinding. From rebirthing the eighties to checking back in with the stylish sixties, today’s entertainment is all about nostalgia, done in earnest and frivolousness alike. And we seem to be eating it up, just as we may with Tim Burton’s refitting of Dark Shadows, his trusty Johnny Depp adorning the posters and billboards.
But even with righteous cynicism considered, there’s always a little room for fun. And our goal this week on The Reject HQ Blog is to set a question to our roundtable of experts — which includes a few of our finest writers and you, the reader — is there a vintage television program (pre-1990, we’ll say) that you’d love to see remade as a movie? Consider advances in technology, developed techniques in filmmaking and think of something that’s better than what we’re being given now. We’ll begin with a few selections from the team.
The Greatest American Hero
Part of the genius of The Greatest American Hero was that it packaged the low-budget nature of 80s television show in a unique way, by having a hero who is given superpowers but doesn’t handle them well. This forced the series to do more work “on the ground” in an investigative approach rather than loading it down with visual effects. William Katt looked utterly ridiculous in that silly suit, but that was part of the point – and the charm. Like The Incredible Hulk series, The Greatest American Hero was more about the characters and how they interacted with the real world. This could open the door for a well-written film produced on a modest budget rather than requiring a $200 million tent pole release. Someone like Nathan Fillion in the role and 80s pop culture fan David Gordon Green could revitalize his sagging career as director. Oh, and there’s some many possibilities with that theme song, that beautiful 80s-cheesefest of a theme song: “Believe it or not, I’m walking on air…” (Tell me you didn’t hear the tune when you read that.)
Jem and the Holograms
There’s perhaps no better time for a Jem and the Holograms film to be made – after all, holograms are back in style (thanks, Coachella!), neon fashion is undergoing a mystifying resurgence, and the girls who grew up with Jem are still old enough to want and desire a fresh take on the totally outrageous rock star/high-powered business lady. Jem’s a bit like a superhero in her own way, after all, her animated series from the mid-’80s was all colors and music and spectacle and flash – how is that so unlike the superhero flicks flooding our multiplexes these days? And while Jem was animated, there’s few childhood cartoons that could translate so perfectly to a live action feature (despite my best attempts, Popples just have to stay drawn that way). But, even better, Jem is a great role model for girls young and old – a modern lady who had a successful career and a creative outlet, a grown-up whoalso remained true to herself and her friends through thick and thin – that’s good at any age and for any time period. And who would direct this imaginary big screen Jem? Joss Whedon. With a script by Diablo Cody.
The Six Million Dollar Man
Never before has blockbuster cinema been able to rebuild him to be this much stronger, faster and more versatile. They have the technology, and it’s been a long time since Col. Steve Rogers has given up a good old fashioned ass whooping for America. Think The Bourne Identity meets Robocop meets just about every badass cyborg story you’ve ever seen. Your grandparents would go nuts for this, even more so than they will for movies based on board games. It’s a rouse, perhaps, for me to suggest a film that we assuredly cannot have — the legal rights to making this story are all kinds of a mess. Old Miramax and Universal were fighting it out in court during the middle of the last decade. Even Kevin Smith himself made a run at a script in the mid-90s. That considered, it could be very fun, especially if handed off to a director with some ambition — a Neill Blomkamp or hell, give it to Brad Bird, he knows how to have a bit of fun and bring the scale. The story gets an update, the Colonel gets taken seriously and the wonders of modern visual effects take the place of “Kung Fu slow motion.” Admit it, it would be fun. Even if they gave the titular role to Bradley Cooper. Or hell, just let last falls rumors of a Bryan Singer directed, Leo DiCaprio led adaptation be true. Whatever gets the job done.
Special Note: My other choice would have been a stop-motion animated, Aardman Ent. produced rebirth of Monty Python’s Flying Circus: No One Expects Another Inquisition, with all living cast members involved.
Now it’s time for you to have your say in the comments below. Tell us your vintage pick and don’t hesitate to throw contemporary directors, actors and your favorite sound designers in the mix, as well.