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Pop Rocks: Are There Any '80s Movies They Won't Remake?

Your legacy of anachronistic jingoism is safe for now, Tom Cruise.
Your legacy of anachronistic jingoism is safe for now, Tom Cruise.

The Red Dawn remake nobody asked for hits theaters tomorrow. The original featured a group of high schoolers fighting a guerilla war against invading Soviet and Cuban soldiers. The new one features some high schoolers led by a couple twentysomethings against a "coalition" led by a North Korean army that has somehow mastered intercontinental force projection and EMP weapons.

Context matters a lot in a movie like Red Dawn, and I'll get into that in my review. Suffice it to say, filming a new version makes total sense given that there have been no changes to the global geopolitical landscape in the last 28 years.

Listing all the remakes of 1980s movies would probably take up two blogs, and wouldn't prove much beyond reaffirming what we already know: Lots of people prefer their entertainment pre-chewed for them. Me, I'm more interested in the films from that decade that have, for some reason, managed to escape Hollywood's re-imagineers.

I triied to steer clear of movies that had sequels, since that's sort of a remake already. Also, some '80s franchises are still going to this day (Indiana Jones, Die Hard), so those wouldn't make a lot of sense. Anyway, here's what I came up with.

Commando (1985) Of the many developments in cinema since the Reagan years, two are especially significant for discussing this particular film. The first is the more realistic depiction of violence which stems from both the popular backlash in the 1990s and a revisiting of real world horror in 2001 and beyond. As a result, you won't see many movies in which an unarmored man survives rocket attacks and machine gun fire unscathed, unless they're all directed by Takashi Miike.

The second is the advent of a robust gay film community, which renders the smoldering yet closeted romantic subplot between Matrix and Bennett obsolete.

Better Off Dead (1985) We thought teen suicide would never stop being funny. And then Columbine and dozen over school shootings happened. I realize Lane "Oscar" Meyer never used a gun in any of his half-assed schemes to off himself. It doesn't matter, and that's why you'll never see a do-over of this, or Heathers, for that matter.

Risky Business (1983) The "teenager's parents going out of town/wild party ensues" trope may predate the 1980s, but it wasn't until the Brat Pack decade that it really came to the fore. Several John Hughes movies feature some variation of it. Risky Business is different, and not just because it marked the first transvestite I ever saw on the big screen (Jackie!). It was darkly satirical and contained some of the first uneasy undercurrents about the post-Boomer generation.

And did I mention the hookers? Yeah, lots of hookers, and lots of high school boys having sex with them. If we want to hear about adult women sleeping with teenagers, we can just check out the local news.

"Looks like University of Illinois!"

 

The Goonies (1985) My personal distaste for the movie aside, the story would never fly today: oh, the land developers are thwarted? When was the last time that ever happened?

Seriously, what a terrible movie.

Top Gun (1986) see also Red Dawn. Is Miramar still open? I could probably look it up, but surely our need to train the best and brightest in advanced dogfighting tactics against the Soviets has lessened somewhat in the absence of, well, actual Soviets. And I assume by the time we go to war with China, it'll just be robots doing all the fighting.

The John Hughes Collection: The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Some Kind of Wonderful I don't think Hollywood reveres Hughes to the extent they *won't* remake his movies, necessarily. But I suspect they're as much a product of their time as the giant bug flicks of the 1950s, and attempting to redo them outside of the context of that decade just wouldn't work. Which is too bad, because what we need now more than anything is a new Judd Nelson.


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