Movies, Remakes

“Let The Right One In” Remake Trailer: 4 Other Completely Unnecessary U.S. Remakes of Foreign Films

Elisabeth Dickson :: Thursday, July 1st, 2010 2:39 pm

Like a college freshman’s term paper, the trailer for “Let Me In,” the remake of the critically acclaimed 2008 Swedish vampire movie “Let the Right One In,” poses many questions from the beginning, and then spectacularly fails to provide answers:

For instance, why change the setting of the movie from Sweden to the decidedly less vampire-appropriate climes of New Mexico? Why the pounding, Massive Attack-esque soundtrack? And most importantly, why remake a great film like “Let the Right One In,” a bloody, sexy and surprisingly poignant masterpiece that’s basically the “Stand By Me” of vampire films? Do movie execs really think that Americans are so mind-numbingly stupid that they’re unable to read the subtitles of the original?

Unfortunately, Americans are that stupid, not to mention stubborn. Like infants who refuse to eat their vegetables, Americans are notorious for their aversion to even the most acclaimed foreign films, and Hollywood has a long and embarrassing history of capitalizing on this aversion. From the 2008 remake of Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” to the 2002 re-working of “Swept Away,” film producers have a habit of recycling concepts from foreign movies that are good for us by selling them as American movies that are bad for us. It’s the equivalent of your mom dipping broccoli in Hershey’s syrup to get you to eat your Choco-Trees, and we buy it hook, line and sinker. So in celebration of our nationwide allergy to reading while watching pretty pictures on a movie screen, here’s a list of 4 completely unnecessary big-budget remakes of foreign movies; you’d be better off just eating your goddamn vegetables.

1) “Three Men and a Baby” (based on the 1985 French film, “Trois hommes et un couffin”): I saw “Trois hommes et un couffin” in French class when I was in ninth grade, and I remember it leaving me with the following three impressions: 1) it was exactly the same as the remake, except decidedly more French and with a reduced Steve Guttenberg presence. 2) What drug dealer is stupid enough to confuse powdered milk with heroin? 3) Why does Steve Guttenberg not get any work these days? He’s goofy and charming and sexy in a Jewish youth group leader kind of way. I would totally cast him in all of my (hypothetical) movies.

2) “Funny Games” (a shot-for-shot remake of the 1997 Austrian film of the same name). The original “Funny Games,” directed by Michael Haneke, is a twisted psychological thriller in which two Aryan teenagers hold a family hostage and systematically torture them in profoundly horrifying ways. “Funny Games,” the 2008 English-language remake directed by Michael Haneke, is a twisted psychological thriller in which two Aryan teenagers hold a slightly better-looking family hostage and systematically torture them in profoundly horrifying ways. The fact that the 2008 remake is in English doesn’t make it any less disturbing; it’s like if Rammstein performed “Mein Teil” in plush bear costumes instead of S&M gear and adult diapers.

3) “Swept Away” (based on the 1974 Italian film “Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August”): The “Swept Away” remake is widely considered to be one of the worst movies of all time, winning the Razzie for Worst Movie in 2002 as well as a Worst Actress award for its star Madonna, whose performance as a socialite with a sadomasochistic streak is almost as bad as anything off of “American Life.”

4) “Vanilla Sky” (based on the 1997 Spanish film “Abre los ojos“): Tom Cruise’s Management Team: “Hey Tom, we have a script for you. It’s based on the screenplay of a really great Amenabar film, except completely up its own ass and without those gay-sounding Catalan accents. It’s like ‘The Matrix’ meets Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’ meets ‘Fatal Attraction’ meets ‘Phantom of the Opera.’” Tom Cruise: “Sounds good. Will there be a nubile young actress on set who I can date for a few months? I’d really like to maintain the illusion of heterosexuality for the three housewives left in Arkansas who still think I’m straight.” Management team: “You got it, Tom.”