Please Stop Remaking Our Childhood Movies!
Last week, we settled down as a family to watch Grease Live. I was intrigued, I guess, because I love and adore Grease, plus I think Aaron Tveit is a really great musical performer. I was also looking forward to seeing Vanessa Hudgens in something other than High School Musical, especially after her turn on Broadway was so well received.
There were some high points, without a doubt, not least the staging. Pulling off a live musical taking place on multiple stages must have been no easy task, and the cast and crew of Grease Live carried it off seamlessly. From shuttling the cast around on golf buggies, to the quickest costume changes I’ve ever seen, they made it seem like a walk in the park.
Without doubt though, the choreography was the standout highlight of the show. Grease is renowned for its fun dance numbers, but choreographer Zach Woodlee really had his work cut out here with a huge cast, plus all the problems that come with a live staging; like making sure your leads can still talk after the number is done! In particular, the ‘Born to Hand Jive’ number was incredible.
Not only that, but some of the cast turned in some stellar performances, too. Vanessa Hudgens in the role of Rizzo was a joy. She has my eternal admiration for performing just hours after the death of her father, and she really gave an outstanding show. Her rendition of ‘There are Worse Things I Could Do’ was heartbreaking and spine tingling all at the same time. Appearing alongside her as Doody, was Jordan Fisher.
Parents, we will know Mr Fisher as Holden, from Liv and Maddie. I was excited to make the connection, but my daughter just rolled her eyes and said “Yes, mom. We know.” Anyway, he was a revelation, and quite cute, too! He got a well-deserved solo number and his voice is beautiful. I’m pretty sure he’s my daughter’s first crush.
So… quite a lot of highs, and really not too many lows…Okay, some of the supporting cast could have been better; I had trouble remembering which one was Kenickie as he didn’t really make an impression, and Patty Simcox wasn’t great. The sound needed to be better in a lot of places too, yet annoyingly, it was okay for Jessie J’s opening number. Who invited her, anyway? But overall, there wasn’t much to nitpick except for one massive, insurmountable flaw.
Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough are not, and never will be, John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.
I know, I know, they can’t help it. Tveit can certainly sing, and dance, though I’m not so sure about the acting part. Hough can dance too, and her singing was on point but she really didn’t bring it for me. The trouble is, Grease is Grease, and a classic like that just shouldn’t be messed with. Travolta and John created those roles, and their talent is undeniable. The chemistry between them is explosive, something which was sadly lacking between Hough and Tveit.
I’ve seen one stage version of Grease, and, to be fair to Hough and Tveit, I came away feeling exactly the same way then, but the stage show was never meant to be a recreation of the film, whereas Fox’s version seemed to be intending to be just that. The original Grease can never be recreated, topped, or bettered. Anything and everything else will always be a poor man’s substitute, and that, unfortunately, is why despite some real strong points, Grease Live failed.
There seems to be a trend right now, to recreate classic movies that really didn’t need another retelling. Firstly, on the stage; I wear many hats, and theatre critic is one of them. I had the dubious honor of being sent to review Dirty Dancing on stage. It was awful. Not only does it not work on a stage, but it seems to attract large groups of raucous women who genuinely think the late, great Patrick Swayze is performing. Don’t believe me? At the start of the last scene, when Johnny Castle enters from the back of the auditorioum, the whoops, hollers and shouts of “Go on, Patrick!” made me ashamed to be a part of the human race.
Ghostbusters is coming back to the big screen later this year. Frankly, I find the whole thing about as exciting as watching paint dry. We’ve had Ghostbusters, and damn good movies they were too. We don’t need another, with female Ghostbusters instead of males, just to even out the balance. We’re good, thanks. The Clash of the Titans, The Karate Kid, Arthur have all been remade and dreadfully received. Don’t even get me started on the hideous film version of Pride and Prejudice which somehow thought Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley could outshine the stupendous Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehele.
There’s more to come, too. We’ve recently had a Point Break remake which literally no one asked for, and apparently in the pipeline are remakes of The Birds, Big Trouble in Little China, Flash Gordon, Dirty Dancing, Clue, The Flight of the Navigator, Jumaji, and Gremlins, to name but a few.Really? REALLY? What made all these movies great is that they are great as they are! We don’t need remakes, reboots, reimaginings or anything else! We need new stories, with great, strong characters. We need new, inspiring movies that make us laugh, or cry. We need new heroes, both male and female, for our kids to admire…not a rehash of the films that we enjoyed as we were growing up.
Leave those films alone, let us revisit them to reminisce fondly, and in the meantime, give us something new.