This is the era of revamping other eras. That is, the ideas of yore are being mined constantly for the potential to become blockbuster movie franchises to fuel sequel after sequel, and it usually works. In some cases, the best way to make it work is to take something old, strip away the cheesier elements and turn it into something cool and badass. However, in some cases – a prime example being Tim Burton’s satirical take on the goth-soap drama “Dark Shadows” – the cheese is too irresistible, and the remakers instead opt to celebrate those elements with sarcasm, loving mockery and ironic flair. Let’s take a look at ten of these particular efforts.
1. “21 Jump Street” (2012)
One of the more recent efforts in this style seems to be the most well received, as the dramatic teen-heartthrob vehicle from the late ‘80s about young-looking rookie cops being assigned to undercover duty in a local high school gets a raucous send-up that does nothing but mock itself as well as the entire concept of remaking old stuff. Even some of its original cast shows up to do the same thing, but it’s really the Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill show, as their clueless characters stumble into ridiculous situations which play out to a surprisingly hilarious effect, proving that a man named Channing has to develop a sense of humor somewhere along the way.
2. “The Green Hornet” (2011)
After this property bounced around Hollywood for years and went through the obligatory rejected Kevin Smith pitch, Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen finally took a crack at relaunching the movie serial superhero that was turned into a TV series featuring Bruce Lee back in the 1960s. Although he brought Jay Chou in as the competent sidekick Kato, Rogen himself played crusading reporter Britt Reid as more of a bumbling party guy who suddenly had to grow up, but not fast enough to keep himself from looking like an idiot in this new endeavor. Poking fun at superhero movie conventions, Kato agrees to become a masked vigilante, but refuses tights. It didn’t go over quite as well.
3. “Starsky & Hutch” (2004)
A beloved 1970s cop show became a winking buddy cop movie in 2004 for Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, and you know those guys couldn’t take something like this all that seriously. If their mockery of old school car-chase-heavy action-dramas doesn’t get you, perhaps Snoop Dogg co-starring as their slick pal Huggy Bear, Will Ferrell’s perverted prison informant and Vince Vaughn as the ridiculously-moustachioed bad guy will. There’s even some Jason Bateman action to enjoy.
4. “The Brady Bunch Movie” (1995)
In 1995, this riff on the cheery ‘70s sitcom about a guy with three boys marrying a woman with three girls took the self-referential parody to heights it hadn’t reached before, taking the family directly out of the 1970s and throwing them into the too-hip-for-the-room 1990s world. Complete with outdated musical numbers while gallivanting through a Sears. Gary Cole and Shelley Long are the Brady elders, and Ben Stiller’s wife Christine Taylor looks so eerily like the original Marcia Brady Maureen McCormick that it’s been difficult to see her in any other role at all.
5. “Dragnet” (1987)
The long-running no-nonsense police drama starring Jack Webb was brought to comic life in 1987 by Dan Aykroyd doing a pitch-perfect monotone riff on Webb’s stuffy persona, playing his character’s nephew Joe Friday. Tom Hanks, back when he was still known entirely for comedy, was his modern partner Pep Streebek. While the film remains funny and charming, complete with the incomparable Dabney Coleman as a smut king and Christopher Plummeras the villain, one has to wonder about the level of self-awareness. Sure, they were obviously having fun with the concept, but somehow, they thought it was a good idea to rope Aykroyd and Hanks into rapping. Yes, in case you forgot, here is their Dragnet rap “City of Crime.” Watch it and wonder just how aware of themselves they actually were.