Break: Best Remakes

Remakes are a tricky thing. When culling from our cinematic past, filmmakers are apt to find material that was already widely embraced rather than something met with indifference.

When I saw Let Me In, I start thinking in this post because there is a lot of good movies are remakes. The term “remake” is generally used in reference to a movie which uses an earlier movie as the main source material, rather than in reference to a second, later movie based on the same source. So here there are my 10 favorite remakes.

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33. Hortons hears a Who!

DIRECTED BY JIMMY HAYWARD & STEVE MARTINO

WRITTEN BY CINCO PAUL & KEN DAURIO

STARRING: JIM CAREY, STEVE CARREL, CAROL BURNETT, ISLA FISHER, WILL ARNETT, JESSE MCCARTNEY

DATE OF RELEASE: MARCH 14, 2008

AGE RECOMMENDED: 5 AND UP

I’m a fan of Dr. Seuss, I believe everything will be easy to understand if it rhymes; don’t believe me, try to teach a kid to read and after several frustrations in both parties try again with a Dr. Seuss’ book.  Well this version is lovely and really pay off to the book, in the 60’s a little movie of Horton was release with the Grinch. But the 2008 movie I think is one of the best renditions of Dr. Seuss.

Hortons hears a Who! offers an incredible and inventing visual piece with incredible voice talent like Jim Carey, Carol Burnet, Will Arnett, Isla Fisher and Steve Carell. Horton hears a who! is one of my favorite books because had two of the most valuable lessons of life, specially for kids: A person is a person, no matter how small and to question the authority and believe in your decisions.

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41. The Parent Trap

DIRECTED BY NANCY MEYERS

WRITTEN BY DAVID SWIFT, NANCY MEYERS, & CHARLES SHYER

STARRING: LINDSAY LOHAN, DENIS QUAID, NATASHA RICHARDSON, ELAINE HENDRIX

RELEASE DATE: JULY 29, 1998

AGE RECOMMENDED: 5 AND UP

Another Lohan movie, I know, but this one is really really good. You see a couple of weeks ago  I was with one of the kids (he’s 6) and he was so exited because he saw this really funny movie and wanted to know everything about it, when I ask which movie he did not know the name but explain the plot to me after what he said I found out it was the parent trap. He ask if we can show this movie to his brothers and they love it too.

This remake I think is better for kids right now for the simple fact is a little more modern and the performance of Lindsay Lohan is good, easy to say her best.

The Parent Trap was created by the competent hands of romantic comedy veterans, first-time director Nancy Meyers and hubby screenwriting partner Charles Shyer, a duo that knows how to build up likeable characters and give them witty dialogue.  It’s really a surprisingly well made film that could have gone wrong in so many different ways, but its infectiously sweet nature and have good casting

The film is based on Erich Kästner’s novel Lottie and Lisa (Das Doppelte Lottchen) and the 1936 Deanna Durbin film Three Smart Girls.

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42. Freaky Friday

DIRECTED BY MARC WATERS

WRITTEN BY HEATHER HASH & LESLIE DIXON

STARRING: LINDSAY LOHAN, JAMIE LEE CURTIS, CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY

RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 1, 2003

AGE RECOMMENDED: 6 AND UP


The movie is a remake of the 1977 film starring Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster, and also connects with the mid-1980s body-switch craze, when three or four were released more or less simultaneously. Both movies were based in the novel Freaky Friday(1972) by Mary Rodgers, at the same time the book was based in another book Vice Versa (1882) by F. Anstey in which the protagonist are father and son and is one of the several body switch movies of the 80’s.

Freaky Friday is actually one of the movies I can said are better than the original, I know the original have Judy Foster but is not as funny or even light as this version. I really like this one and I have seen very entertaining for kids who think that the grown up life is easy. The best performance of the movie is obviously Jamie Lee Curtis, who is amazing playing and imitating Lindsey Lohan. Continue reading

70. Little Women

DIRECTED BY GILLIAN ARMSTRONG

WRITTEN BY ROBIN SWICORD

STARRING: WINONA RYDER, CLAIRE DANES, KIRSTEN DUNST, SUSAN SARANDON, CHRISTIAN BALE, GABRIEL BYRNE, ERIC STOLTZ

RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 21, 1994

AGE RECOMMENDED: 7 AND UP

When I was about 8 or so my mom gave a copy of the book, I love it specially Jo. I always have believe that Jo is one of that characters that you can relate to them all your life. Jo is a great example for girls, she is strong, independent, responsible, smart, she loves her family and true to her self. Note this is a woman’s story, roaringly female; in other words the ultimate chick flick.

The movie is based in the  semi-autobiographical story of Louisa May Alcott.  This movie is a re-make the original was made in 1933 and I’m not big fan of it because is darker, not that close to the book and an adult plays Amy (all the time). The 1994 version of the film is actually closest to Alcott’s vision, with the details that the idea of suffrage and higher ideals were added, focusing the story in the feminist.

With rich, colorful cinematography (the Autumn scenes are especially vibrant) and a fine score, Little Women is technically accomplished; but it is the performances that make this movie special. Winona Ryder is the perfect Jo, you hate Kirsten Dunst as and Amy, and who don’t love Christian Bale as as Laurie.

Little Women might be kind of hard for an older guy to sit all the film but a boy around 7 may enjoy it and girls definitely will love it.

PLOT

The story focuses on the March sisters (Meg, Jo,  Bet, and Amy) growing up during and after the Civil War. With their father away fighting, the girls struggle with major and minor problems under the guidance of their strong-willed mother, affectionately called Marmee. As a means of escaping some of their problems, the sisters revel in performing plays written by Jo in their attic theater.

Living next door to the family is wealthy Mr. Laurence, whose grandson Theodore,  “Laurie”, moves in with him and becomes a close friend of the March family. Mr. Laurence becomes a mentor for Beth, whose piano playing reminds him of his  daughter, and Meg falls in love with Laurie’s tutor John Brooke.

While Marmee is away tending to her wounded husband, Beth contracts scarlet  from a neighbor’s infant. Awaiting her return, Meg and Jo send Amy away to live with their Aunt March. Prior to Beth’s illness, Jo had been Aunt March’s companion for several years, and while she was unhappy with her position she tolerated it in the hope her aunt one day would take her to Europe. Amy thrives as Aunt March’s new companion.

Mr. March returns home. Four years pass; Meg and John Brooke are married, and Beth’s health is deteriorating steadily. Laurie graduates from college and proposes to Jo and asks her to go with him, but realizing she thinks of him more as a big brother than a romantic prospect, she refuses his offer. Jo later deals with the added disappointment that Aunt March has decided to take Amy, who is now sixteen, with her to Europe instead of her. Crushed, Jo departs  to pursue her dream of writing and experiencing life. There she meets Friedrich Bhaer, a german professor who challenges and stimulates her intellectually, introduces her to opera  and philosophy, and encourages her write better stories than  she has so far.

In Europe, Amy reunites with her old childhood friend Laurie. Finding he has become dissolute and irresponsible, she censures him and refuses to have anything more to do with him until he mends his ways. Laurie decides to go to London to work for his grandfather and make himself worthy of Amy.

Jo is summoned home to see Beth, who finally succumbs to the lingering effects of the scarlet fever that have plagued her for the past four years and she dies. Grieving for her sister, Jo retreats to the comfort of the attic and begins to write her life story. when complete, she sends it to Professor Bhaer. Meanwhile, Meg gives birth to Demi and Daisy.

Amy informs the family Aunt March is too ill to travel, so she must remain in Europe with her. In London, Laurie is inform by Jo  of Beth’s death and mentions Amy is unable to come home. Laurie immediately travels to be at Amy’s side. The two eventually return to the March home as husband and wife.

Aunt March dies and she leaves Jo her house, which she decides to convert into a school. Professor Bhaer arrives with the printed galley proofs of her book  and announces he is departing  because he has found a position as a teacher. When he discovers it was Amy and not Jo who wed Laurie, he proposes and Jo accepts.

Well, of course Aunt March prefers Amy over me. Why shouldn’t she? I’m ugly and awkward and I always say the wrong things. I fly around throwing away perfectly good marriage proposals. I love our home, but I’m just so fitful and I can’t stand being here! I’m sorry, I’m sorry Marmee. There’s just something really wrong with me. I want to change, but I – I can’t. And I just know I’ll never fit in anywhere.

73. The Secret Garden

DIRECTED BY AGNIEZKA HOLLAND

WRITTEN BY CAROLINE THOMPSON

STARRING BY KATE MABERLY, HEYSON PROWSE, ANDREW KNOTT, MAGGIE SMITH, JONH LYNCH

RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 13, 1993

AGE RECOMMENDED: 7 AND UP

Again a re-make but in this case the remake is much better than the original version. The movie is based in the book of  Frances Hodgson Burnett, same author  A little princess. One thing I love of this books and movies is they show little female characters, strong and independent. Mary and Sara are two very interesting girls that are able to created a non-adult world, a world of magic to compensate the loses in their life.

As in other movies of Holland we found recurrent theme, a little girl left alone because a war (Europa, Europa) which I believe is a response of her upbringing in a post-war Poland. Visually the movie is beautiful, with a great cinematography.  Photographed in elegant dark tones, Holland’s version of The Secret Garden remains true to  Burnett’s novel. Wandering through the mazelike hallways of Misselthwaite Manor, establishes a sense of darkness and mystery in the mansion, while the garden itself is filmed like a portal into a paradise that belongs in a fantasy. With its strong use of color and sweeping landscape shots, the world outside the mansion become one of wonder, beauty and freedom.

The music by Zbigniew Preisner is very a doc in order to establish the mood for both, the manor and the garden. While  the characters are all well written and incredibly well acted, showing the changes that occur as the story unfolds.  I truly believe this is one of the movies every child  (especially every girl) should watch.

PLOT

Mary Lennox  is a ten-year-old girl born to British parents in Inida. Her mother and father care nothing for her, and only think about themselves. One night during one of their frequent parties, an earthquake occurs, and both of Mary’s parents are killed.  Mary is sent by ship to England  to live with his uncle. She is picked up by Mrs. Medlock.  Mrs. Medlock explains to Mary that her aunt died. Mary did not know this because her parents had told her nothing. Mary does not know how to dress herself, nor has she learned to cry.

Upon her arrival at the Manor, she hears someone crying from a distant room, but all of the servants tell her differently. Mary later meets Martha Sowerby a cheerful servant of the house who quickly befriends Mary. Martha tells Mary that her Uncle Lord Archibald Craven, would like to see her sometime, although Mrs. Medlock denies this fact too. Lord Craven frequently travels away from home because his wife died upon Mary’s birth, and he is unable to overcome his loss; it is thought to be a curse that is laid upon Lord Craven.

The next day when Mary is out in the fresh air and the local gardens, she discovers a hidden garden behind some overgrown ivy, one of the gardeners  tells her that there is no entrance because after the master’s wife died, Lord Craven gave orders to shut it off to everybody. Mary is determined to find out more about the garden, she finds a key in her late aunt’s bedroom that fits the lock to the hidden door.

One night after dreaming about her mother for the first time since coming to England, she hears the crying from the distant room she heard before. Determined to find out where the crying is coming from, she discovers the room that belongs to Colin Craven, his cousin. Colin is unable to walk and constantly talks of death.

Colin and Mary get to know each other very well. Colin’s windows are boarded up because he claims the light and spores outside can harm him; when Mary decides to pull them down with the help of Martha’s brother Dickon, Colin falls out of his wheelchair onto the floor in a terrible tantrum. It is revealed that Medlock keeps Colin concealed from Mary as she claims Mary is capable of killing Colin if she goes anywhere near him.

Soon, Mary persuades Colin that the fresh air is safe, and she takes him outside in his wheelchair to see the secret garden that Mary and Dickon have been trying to restore. Mary and Dickon ultimately teach Colin to stand up and walk, but they decide that Lord Craven should be the first to see Colin walking, so they conceal the secret from Medlock and the others.

After Medlock claims Colin is gravely ill she forces Mary and Colin to be separated, locking Mary in her bedroom. Mary however escapes from her room through a second door that is behind a tapestry, she takes Colin and Dickon to the garden to perform magic at night. The magic causes Lord Craven to have a dream about his late wife, in the secret garden with his son Colin. Alarmed and terrified, he rushes back to Misselthwaite Manor to find him. Lord Craven goes into the secret garden to find Colin walking quite well now.

Mary tries to run away claiming that no one wants her, but Lord Craven persuades her that she is wanted. Soon Mary has learned to cry for the first time, and Lord Craven has regained his sense of humour and laughter. Upon their return to the Manor, Medlock and the other servants are amazed to see Colin walking back on his own with Mary and Lord Craven.

My name is Mary Lennox. I was born in India. It was hot, and strange, and lonely in India. I didn’t like it. Nobody by my servant, my ayah, looked after me. My parents didn’t want me. My mother cared only to go to parties. And my father was busy with his military duties. I was never allowed to go to the parties. I watched them from my mother’s bedroom window. I was angry, but I never cried. I didn’t know how to cry.

75. Miracle on 34th St.

DIRECTED BY GEORGE SEATON (1947) AND  LES MAYFIELD (1994)

WRITTEN BY GEORGE SEATON BUT THE 1994 VERSION HAD SOME HELP FROM JOHN HUGHES

STARRING: – 1947-  MAUREEN O’HARA, NATALIE WOODS, JOHN PAYNE, EDMUND GWENN

-1994- ELIZABETH PERKINGS, MARA WILSON, DYLAN MCDERMOTT, RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH

RELEASE DATE: MAY2, 1947 AND NOVEMBER 18, 1994

In my house we have this little tradition of watch every single Christmas on TV as soon December starts, so we always watch some classic like It’s a wonderful life, Miracle on 34th st, Home Alone 1 and 2 and new classics like Love Actually. But Miracle on 34th St is a truly Christmas Classic. What makes Miracle a genuine miracle of holiday filmmaking is the pitch-perfect balance of social cynicism and human generosity.

Here we have a little problem, we have to versions. Some may said that the remake is not as good but I like it, and may be a little more contemporary for kids. The original version, in on hand had a little Natalie Wood, while the remake had Dylan McDermott.

The movie  re-make was  produced by John Hughes and directed by Les Mayfield, who follow the original fairly closely, but with a quieter, more elegiac tone. As in the earlier version, this “Miracle” begins with a charming old gentleman who is hired on sight and pressed into service after the department store’s Santa gets drunk at the start of the annual New York Thanksgiving parade. The old man says his name is Kriss Kringle. Played in 1947 by Edmund Gwenn, Santa’s  portrayed this time by Richard Attenborough.

In the Original movie the store was Macy’s (which yes is in 34st in NY), but the store did not want to be part of the remake, so in the 1994 version the store name is Cole’s. For a remake, 1994′s Miracle on 34th Street is surprisingly old fashioned, which is good because all it needed was some kid teaching Santa Claus to breakdance and the whole thing would’ve been down the tubes. Its greatest suspense is that it teeters on the brink of failure throughout but still manages to stay in the viewers good graces. Another good thing about the remake is the color of the movie which was created to resemble a black and white movie that was colored.

So you decide which one you want to watch a black and white classic or a cute colorful remake.

PLOT (1994)

When the department store’s Santa gets drunk before taking part in the Thanksgiving parade. Cole’s director of special events, fires him and must find a replacement immediately. She spots an old man ( berating the drunk Santa, and begs him to take over. He claims his name is Kris Kringle. Kris does so well during the parade that he is immediately hired to be Cole’s main Santa for the holiday period. All the children in New York begin to believe that he is the real Santa, with the exception of six-year-old Susan, Dorey’s daughter.

Brian Bedford, Dorey and Susan’s neighbor does his best to convince Susan to believe. While being babysat one night by Kris, Susan shares with him her Christmas wish, she would like a dad, a house (used every year for the Cole’s catalogue photoshoot) and a baby brother. Kris asks if she would begin to believe in Santa if she got all those things. Susan agrees that she would.

Kris is credited with bringing in many more sales to Cole’s than previous years, until one night, when he is arrested, then sanctioned for supposedly assaulting a man on the street. Later, the truth emerges, that the man he assaulted was the original drunk Santa, who set up Kris to be arrested, with the help of members of staff from a rival of Cole’s.

With the help of Brian, Dorey takes Kris’ case to court, and drums up support from him from the public. It soon becomes clear that to get Kris acquitted and freed, Brian must prove that not only does Santa exist, but that Kris is the real one. It is a seemingly impossible task until Brian comes up with a plan that requires some help from Susan.

Just as the judge is about to make his decision — and it seems he was going to rule against Kris — Susan walks up to the judge with a Christmas card containing a $1 bill. On the back, the words “In God We Trust” are circled. The judge realizes that, since the U.S. Department of Treasury can believe in God with no hard evidence, then the people of New York can believe in Santa Claus in the same way. This leaves the elated judge no other choice but to declare that Santa is real, thus freeing Kris.

Following the court case, Dorey and Brian are maneuvered by Kris into realizing their true feelings for each other, and are married in a very small ceremony right after the Christmas Eve midnight mass. On Christmas morning, Susan wakes to the news of the marriage and is elated to see that she has part one of her Christmas wish, a dad. Together, Susan, Dorey and Brian drive out to the catalogue house and upon arrival, find that Kris has arranged for them to purchase the house. Susan, now having got two out of three of her wishes, excitedly runs upstairs in the house to look at her bedroom. Dorey and Brian ask her what the last part of her Christmas wish was, and she triumphantly announces that it was a baby brother. Dorey and Brian both look at each other, shocked, before glancing down at Dorey’s stomach. The film ends with the belief that Susan has now gotten all she asked for.

We invite you to ask yourself this one simple question: Do you believe in Santa Claus?