Last week’s Incredible Hulk-inspired contest proposal—which movie of the past five years would you remake now, with whom, and why?—gave rise to fantasy pitch meetings across the land. Some projects, like the Apatow-directed Cloverfieldcomedy suggested by Eric from Houston, sounded market-savvy enough to get greenlighted right away:
Instead of stupidly going into the carnage to rescue some chick, the gang (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel) happens to be really stoned when the monster hits. They decide that, “Oh man, now would be the perfect time to film that monster movie we’ve been talking about,” and they hilariously keep trying and failing to get the monster in the background of their shots. It’s Be Kind Rewind meets Superbad meets Godzilla.
Some contestants based their casting choices on an unusual criterion: not who would kill in the role, but whom the viewer would like to see killed. Matthew B. Hils suggested remaking Jurassic Park with the entire cast of MTV’s The Hills, with the proviso that all the actors be eaten by real dinosaurs (“or underfed wolverines should the film run over budget”). In a similar spirit of casual sadism, R. Chavezwould like to see “I, Robot with Christian Bale in the lead role, because I’d be curious to see if Bale would have his arm surgically replaced with a robotic arm to prepare for the role.”
The amusingly grumpy Nathan Rasmussen (whom I imagine being played by The Daily Show’s Lewis Black) gripes, “The Bourne Supremacy should be remade by someone that can hold a camera still. That movie makes me wonder if Paul Greengrass is secretly a bobblehead. If I wanted to get motion sickness, I would let my wife drive.”
Some of my favorite entries were those that reimagined a project from the bottom up, even including a marketing hook. Michael Charlton writes:
I would remake Troywith the Muppets, in the belief that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy would add more gravitas to the story as Achilles and Helen than the living actors did. I would use a nearly identical script but include Statler and Waldorf (the two grumpy old guys in the balcony) so that they could read from the Iliad and note where the script favors plot points lifted from Steve Reeves and Michael Bay movies instead of Homer. Unlike the original, Muppet Troy would also allow for kid-friendly merchandising, such as Baby’s First Trojan Horse.
Several pitches drew inspiration from the juiciest off-screen drama of the past year, the 2008 presidential campaign. Andrew writes: “I can’t imagine a better remake of a recent summer blockbuster than returning to 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton taking over the lead roles. This would serve as a priceless and timely allegory for a Democratic party that needs to strengthen their union now that arms have been set aside.” The dynamic of mutual deceit, brutal one-upmanship, and phony domesticity between that movie’s married superassassins seems more suggestive of Bill and Hillary than Hillary and Barack, but I appreciate Andrew’s romantic optimism. And what if, like Brad and Angie, HRC and BHO fell in love during the shoot and moved in together to raise a rainbow-colored family? Am I the only one here thinking “sequel”?
The grand prize—aka the first Slate-branded freebie I come across in the storage room—goes to David Scott Baker, who turned The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer into a campaign allegory with a refreshingly utopian final twist:
Mr. Fantastic (who can shape himself into anything): John McCain
The Invisible Woman (self-explanatory): Hillary Clinton
The Thing (an unfeeling half-human rock head): Dick Cheney
The Human Torch (a hapless fire starter completely unaware of his own effects): G.W. Bush
The Silver Surfer (a beautiful, awe-inspiring novelty come to wreak havoc on the status quo): Barack Obama
In this about-face on the genre norm, it turns out that the Silver Surfer comes to our planet to thwart the sinister incompetence of the F4. In a delicately crafted dramatic moment of self-revelation and shattering of the business-as-usual self-serving heroics of the F4, the Invisible Woman realizes that the Surfer is trying to fix all of the blunders of the powers-that-be, and she throws herself into his masterful plan, helping to reverse the unnatural and undeserved abilities of her fellow fantastics.
David, if you e-mail me with your mailing address, I’ll send you the spoils of your victory. Thanks to everyone who wrote in—I’ll be scanning the summer-movie horizon in search of ideas for the next movie challenge.