August 01, 2010

Remaking Foreign Films in a Lowbrow Image

It's summer time, and you know what that means, right?

Time for the usual spate of unoriginal movies to come our way.

The current crop includes a very high-profile remake: the Jay Roach-helmed Dinner for Schmucks (I can't believe they included that word in the title!), which recreates Francis Veber's The Dinner Game for American audiences.

Why? I ask. Why not leave well enough alone?

I do like DFS stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, two talented comedians who turned in hilarious performances in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But I'm skeptical that they can turn their latest collaboration into comedy magic.

The reason? Roach directed two of the worst movies in recent memory, in my opinion: Meet the Parents and its horrid sequel, Meet the Fockers, both of which were squirm-inducing "comedies" of embarrassment that made Jerry Lewis' oeuvre seem highbrow. Popular they were, however, as are velvet paintings and elevator music.

I realize I'm in the minority here. But are we really expecting "the Lubitsch touch" here?

Veber's a talented director and writer who specializes in slick, amiable comedies that smack more of Louis de Funes than Moliere (such as the charming Les Comperes, remade in the States as Father's Day), and he seems to have a new career as a font of inspiration to American directors looking for source material. Still, I'm a bit perturbed at this suggests original ideas for screen comedy are limited, and the need for an instant hit trumps the need for uniqueness.

I don't think we have to be worried about a remake of Jules and Jim coming to our shores anytime soon or anything. I do, however, think that there's a pattern here, and it's one to be concerned about...especially if the new films don't do the originals justice.

And so to bed...with this argument.

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