It’s not exactly news to say that we are in an era where remakes and reboots rule the movie business. If a movie was successful once, or even if it wasn’t , there will likely be an attempt before too long to revive it based solely on the fact that name recognition is comfortable, so any remake is preferable to anything entirely new. But few of these remakes are literally the same story over again. They include changes, and while some of these changes make sense, others seemed designed to fix things that were never actually broken.
Walt Disney Studios has been at the forefront of this trend. The studio has remade enough of its animated feature catalog into live-action movies in recent years that it’s basically it’s own genre. And almost as soon as the deal between Disney and Fox closed, the studio began working on new versions of several of that studio’s popular films; more Home Alone, more Cheaper by the Dozen, more Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Based on the output that we’ve seen, it seems that one of the mandates that comes along with remaking these movies is that the original story needs to be fixed, as in any feeling that there was a problem with the original version needs to be addressed in some way. But we’re not seeing changes to things that are important, we’re seeing updates to internet nitpicks. And it needs to stop, because at best, it becomes a ham-handed moment that can easily take a viewer out of a story, and at worst, it complicates a movie that just doesn’t need it.
Home Sweet Home Alone: The Kid Is Actually A Monster This Time
The recent Home Alone reboot is one case where it feels like the reboot was specifically tasked with addressing the often-mentioned fact that the kid in that movie is kind of a dick. It’s the sort of comment you see on Twitter at Christmastime where people bring up the fact that the things that Kevin McCallister does in the original movie are actually pretty terrible and the sorts of things that could kill people, so maybe the kid isn’t the best movie hero.
And so, in Home Sweet Home Alone, they basically made the new main character in that role a largely unsympathetic tool. He’s a legit jackass. They even took things a step further by making the “robber” characters more sympathetic. The problem is that it’s still a Home Alone movie, and if you don’t have the kid torturing adults with Rube Goldberg booby traps, then you’re making a different movie.
The end result is a mashup of ideas that just don’t work. If they had made a more straightforward remake of Home Alone, at least the story and characters would have fit together in a way that feels cohesive. Instead, it’s just a mess that largely fails at whatever it’s trying to do.
The Beauty and the Beast Problem
This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen this happen. In the 30 years since Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast nearly won Best Picture at the Oscars, the movie has been a favorite target of snarky criticism that doesn’t actually matter.
Wait, if the prince has been transformed into the Beast for 10 years, but he hasn’t turned 21 yet, doesn’t that mean he was like 10 when he got cursed? Is every dancing piece of silverware actually a person? How did little Belle get the injured Beast up on a horse all by herself?
Were you desperate for answers to these questions? I hope you said “yes” because the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast that made $1 billion goes far out of its way to make sure that every nitpick ever heaved at the animated film is dealt with in a way that now makes “sense.”
Does it keep you awake at night that the Galactic Empire would build a massive planet killing space station and somehow leave a flaw that could lead to its destruction? Good news, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has you covered. That was done on purpose, so everybody can relax.
Few, if any, people came out of the original Beauty and the Beast or Star Wars worried about these issues. Nobody noticed them until they were watching their favorite movie for the 10th time. These weren’t problems at the time, but seeing them dealt with becomes a problem because it frequently forces you to think about the issue that you glossed over the first time around.
These Movies Didn’t Actually Need Fixing
Some of the changes Disney makes, like removing the “Siamese Cat Song” from Lady and the Tramp or making sure Mulan is more culturally accurate, are fixes worth making. But giving any attention to these other details is just silly. Are they technically errors in the story? In a handful of them, maybe. But for the most part, these are not “plot holes,” they’re just movie fans having some fun at the expense of a film that, in almost all cases, they probably actually like. Even in the scenarios where there was maybe an issue here or there, it wasn’t one that really needed addressing. Most of these items weren’t widely discussed until years after the movies were already cultural institutions.
Sometimes movies do require updating, but these changes don’t feel like necessary modernization. They feel like attempts to keep people from being mean on social media.
Believe me, I know that my industry, and myself specifically, are partially to blame for this. We’re the people who write the pieces poking fun at these movies in the first place. But if it’s not clear that most of the time we’re just having fun, then trust me, most of the time we’re just having fun. We love movies, so sometimes we like to kid our favorite movies for the things about them that are maybe a bit silly. That said, they became our favorites for reasons; we loved them just the way they were.
There are places worthy of making changes when a movie is remade, but can we stop pretending like every nitpick is equally valid. They’re not. If Home Alone is truly a problematic movie now, then maybe that means we just shouldn’t remake it.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.