you're such a critic

April 21, 2006


We've all seen our share of lousy remakes recently, films that missed the wit, the magic or even the whole point of an original movie. Some didn't even try. And, yet, sometimes remaking a movie flat works, as King Kong proves.

So, what is the secret to faithfully translating a classic film to a new audience? And what old favorites would you like to see remade the right way?


I think the secret of doing a successful remake is to stick to the letter and the spirit of the original screenplay and to employ good, solid character actors. This was the winning formula used in 2004, in The Manchurian Candidate effort, which had Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep in the lead roles. Finally, I would like to see a remake of Steve Yeager's 1991 film noir classic On the Block, which starred Washington's Michael Gabel and the late Irv Ziff, and was made right here in Baltimore.


Remakes are a sign that the Hollywood studios have run out of original ideas. If a remake has to be made, the film must be directed by a great director (Martin Scorsese, Cape Fear), be easily translatable subject matter (The Ring, Ringu) or a classic novel (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Clueless) that can be changed into a modern story without changing the basic plot. But for heaven's sake, a remake should not be made from a mediocre film (Can't Buy Me Love, Love Don't Cost a Thing).


At 62 years old, the one movie that has stayed with me over the years is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir ... I have the video and have watched it many times. And I always envisioned it to have so much more to it. There is an actor that I think would be so perfect for the Captain - and that's Robert Foxworthy. He hasn't really played the big screen as a big name, but every part I have ever seen him has always reminded me of my favorite movie.



A dysfunctional group hops in a vehicle and heads off across America, with wacky comedy in hot pursuit. Where have we heard that before? Oh, wait ... Johnson Family Vacation. Oh, and Flirting with Disaster, and Lost in America, and National Lampoon's Vacation. Oh, and ... you get the idea.

Anyway, Robin Williams takes his turn behind the wheel next week in RV. It makes us wonder - between mea culpas for having referred to Anthony Perkins as Anthony Hopkins last week, of course - what do you consider the greatest "road trip" comedy?

Please send your thoughts in a brief note with your name, city and daytime phone number (and "Such a Critic" in the memo field) to We'll publish the best answers we receive.

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