McGinnis: Hollywood’s remake frenzy foreshadows scary futureWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There are few things scarier for fans of classic pop culture characters than the word “re-imagining.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, those tinkering with the basic formula of a grand old franchise can come up with something great. The new “Battlestar Galactica” was a triumph, as is the new “Doctor Who.” But oftentimes, it seems as though the creators of a new version of classic characters are doing little but cashing in on old fans for the sake of name recognition, and rarely seem to care about respecting the original work.
Some of the most prominent targets in recent years have been classic children’s characters. Moviegoers have seen numerous figures from their childhood ripped from their natural habitat on the comics page or Cartoon Network and “re-imagined” for a new generation of kids to delight and sell toys to.
Live-action versions of Garfield, Marmaduke, Alvin and the Chipmunks, G.I. Joe and more have been foisted on an unsuspecting public, and fans have already been terrified by the news of a Smurfs movie next year. The deluge of ridiculously overdone cartoon flicks has made already-cynical fans downright angry whenever a new project is announced that promises to once more ruin a childhood memory.
But Hollywood won’t stop, of course. The remakes make money, and as long as they do, executives will continue to be interested in new, “edgy” versions of classic characters. The best we can do as the audience is to simply stop going, lest we face the consequences. Imagine me as the Ghost of Movies Yet-to-Come. I say to you, if these trends do not go unaltered, the future of some of our most beloved cartoon heroes might look something like this …
- “Mickey Mouse: Assassin for Hire”: Forced to make ends meet, Mickey finds work in a CIA training facility and learns that his aw-shucks demeanor and his winning smile make him a perfect government killer. His first assignment: Rubbing out industrial espionage suspect Scrooge McDuck. Voice of Mickey: Vin Diesel.
- “Popeye Confidential”: The spinach-chomping sailor journeys onto land and finds violence and intrigue as a Los Angeles private eye. Sweet Pea becomes a 17-year-old crack addict, and Olive Oyl becomes a D cup. Voice of Bluto: Harvey Fierstein.
- “Flintstones on the Lam”: Framed for the murder of Mr. Slate, Fred and the gang head on a cross-country journey while on the run from the law. While hiding out in Rock Vegas, they find an ally in local mobster Al “Bad Pun” CaStone. Voice of Barney: Ving Rhames.
- “The Rainbow Connection”: Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake are not hiding their feelings anymore. Out of the closet and empowered, the lovers fight for equality and understanding. Voice of chief villain: Michael Medved.
- “We’re Gonna Die, Charlie Brown”: The Peanuts gang competes in a deadly futuristic reality show where they must fight for their lives against the evil minions of the Red Baron. A beloved cast member will be killed off every five minutes. Linus is first to go when his protective blanket gets caught in a wood chipper. Voice of Snoopy: Vince McMahon.
- “The Cat in the Hat Gets the Clap”: No explanation necessary. Voice of Conrad: Sam Waterston.
- “Jem and the City”: Four single women living in the Big Apple, the band mates share tales of sex and witty advice with one another as they make their way through the modern social scene. Oh, and Jem’s a struggling female boxer on the side, too. Voice of Jem: Demi Moore.
- “T&J 4-Eva”: Tom and Jerry become inner city kids who dream of playing professional ping pong while learning a valuable life lesson on the meaning of friendship. Of course, they still try and kill each other, because that’s how T&J roll. Voice of Tom: Ludacris.
- Scooby Doo, You’re Turning Blue!: After one overdose too many, Scooby must finally face his addictions and joins the gang in rehab as they all struggle to come to terms with Shaggy’s tragic passing (I mean, tell me you didn’t see it coming). Voice of Scrappy: Kenneth Branagh.
- Yogi Bear: Big-budget, live-action treatment sees the classic characters become fully (and creepily) CGI-based. Voice of Boo Boo: Justin Timberlake.
… wait. What? That last one’s actually … no, no, you can’t be serious. (Quick trip to Google, then return.) Excuse me, I’m off to drown my sorrows in Goofy cartoons. Until Gary Sinise is cast to play him, that is.
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.