When David Mamet's play Sexual Pervesity in Chicago was adapted into the 1986 movie About Last Night, the self-absorbed Chicago twenty-somethings were played by Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Jim Belushi, and Elizabeth Perkins. In the 2014 remake, those parts are now being played by Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Kevin Hart, and Regina Hall and nothing about that seems unusual. It isn't that Mamet's play has changed much in the 40 years since he first wrote it, it's that some of the audience's preconceived notions of who can play what role have.Just as it happened with the reworked The Karate Kid that featured Jaden Smith in the title role made famous by Ralph Macchio, About Last Night takes a '80s story and adds some ethnic diversity to come up with something new. Well, there's a whole lot more movies from the '80s that are just sitting there waiting for just such a redo. Here are five stories that would work just as well in a more coloful version.
Molly Ringwald playing the forgotten girl on her birthday, in love with an older boy and tormented by geeks in the John Hughes classic. Everything about the story still works, including the Chicago suburban setting that was ultra-white in the '80s. Disney Channel stalwart Coco Jones is the right age to play the teenager in love, and Zoe Kravitz would make a fine addition as her attention-hogging older sister. So what if Jones and Kravitz don't look alike? Ringwald looked nothing like her onscreen family in the original. In the all-important older guy role, someone like 90210's Tristan Wilds could provide the smolder. The only real issue would be what to do with the original's exchange student, The Donger. That was a role so racially regrettable that it doesn't exactly have a place in today's world.
In Mike Nichols' film, Melanie Griffith played the secretary that secretly takes over for her out-of-commission boss (Sigourney Weaver), proves a capable business woman, and wins the affection of Harrison Ford. The Griffith character would have to be called an assistant now, but otherwise there isn't much about the story that needs to change. Use someone like Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries) or Tika Sumpter (Ride Along) as the underling trying to get ahead, maybe Halle Berry or even Gabrielle Union as the obnoxious boss and Taye Diggs as the love interest, and update the setting from a generic New York investment bank to the entertainment idustry. What Hollywood assistant doesn't want to push the boss out of the way and take over?
Sure, people remember the soundtrack but how many people remember the story? A steel-worker by day who dances in a bar by night, all while dreaming of making it as a legitimate professional dancer, and is pursued by her rich boss. Back then she wasn't really a stripper, but now she would have to be and she'd be trying to break into something hipper than ballet. The role could also be played this time by someone that can legitimately dance, since Jennifer Beals, the original star, was famously replaced by a body double. Someone like That Awkward Feeling's Jessica Lucas would work, or else there's got to be a Janelle Monáe back-up dancer that's ready to break out.
Tiger Woods broke on the scene nearly 20 years ago, so a golf comedy set at a country club and featuring a diverse cast shouldn’t be any big deal. It's near sacrilege to many to consider remaking such a beloved classic, but a new version would be shooting for a whole new audience. After all, golfers of all colors are tired of reciting the same tired lines from the original. Start with Hart taking on the Rodney Dangerfield role of the rich guy that doesn't like the country club set. Imagine letting Hart riff on a bunch of rich people while dressed in ugly golf garb, throw in Saturday Night Live's Jay Pharoah as the wacky grounds keeper, and it just flows from there. You could have a who's who of comedy going... Godfrey, Chris Rock, Mike Epps, Katt Williams, Faizon Love… there would be a part for just about everyone. Heck, even Eddie Murphy might be convinced to do the Judge Smails role that Ted Knight made famous. That would be top notch.
Three Men and a Baby
Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg were three well-off bachelors sharing a fabulous midtown Manhattan apartment that have their lives interrupted by a baby being dropped off at their doorstep. The idea of guys taking care of babies continues to be played for laughs, most recently in the sitcom Guys with Kids. What has been missing since Three Men is the angle of the guys being rich, Type A personalities. Take Jesse L. Martin, Tyler Perry and Damon Wayans Jr., move the setting to Hollywood, make them all successful and sharing a Charlie Sheen-type playpen, and then let a baby screw up their lives. It's comedy gold.
With the official announcement of Sunday's activities, San Diego Comic-Con finally has its full line-up. And boy oh boy is it ever chock-a-block with things to do. For those not easily overwhelmed, we've broken down the highlights that will no doubt bring in tons of spoilers, revelations, exclusives, and news about our favorite television shows and movies. The comic convention has quickly turned into THE place to reveal information to a highly-rapturous nerd-and-geek-a-palooza in addition to the discussion of the comic book and fandom worlds.
So take a look at the highlights below and get your schedules ready--it's definitely going to be tight to manage seeing everything worth attending. Does anyone have an extra time-turner handy?
For those lucky enough to get into the preview night, there is a nearly 4 hour block of pilot screenings that include ABC's 666 Park Avenue, CW's Arrow, FOX's The Following, NBC's Revolution, and CW's Cult.
Thursday morning starts off with several panels, including an hour of movie trailer screenings. The cast and crew from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will be on-hand to present a sneak peek at the film followed by a Q&A. Disney hosts a panel featuring Tim Burton and his Frankenweenie, Sam Raimi and Oz The Great and Powerful, and Wreck-it Ralph. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman will also be there. To round out the afternoon, Teen Wolf of the MTV variety and USA's Psych will also have panels going. The CW's Beauty and the Beast has a panel during the evening, and the zombies will be out for The Walking Dead's early evening discussion. Wilfred's team will have an hour to chat about the FX-by-way-of-Australian television show, and CBS' Elementary will serve you some behind-the-scenes clues into the show for Sherlock and Watsons everywhere. On the movie front, The Expendables 2 will talk about the action and and explosions experienced by on-hand stars Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more. Jon Benjamin has his first panel of the weekend to discuss Archer before the folks from Dexter chat about the world's most lovable serial killer, in what promises to be filled with tons of details about the upcoming season. Comedy Central gets in on the fun with a discussion with the boys from Workaholics before everything ends with a lively sing-along featuring Neil Patrick Harris' internet sensation, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
Community brings the cult-favorite's cast to San Diego for what will be an undoubtedly kooky and obscure pop culture reference-laden event, while the bronies will be found at a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (I know!) panel. Nickelodeon's buzzified new show Legend of Korra takes a stab at the comic-con circuit, as well as CW's midseasoner Cult. Fans of Adult Swin have several panels running on Friday, and Big Bang Theory gets an upgrade to the prestigious Hall H for its cast chat. Things are a little bit creepy in honor of the superstitious Friday the 13th, with a panel for ABC's 666 Park Avenue, as well as several other horrific sessions. In curious music-related news, Chris Martin and the Coldplay crew will be on hand to chat about the alleged secret narrative behind their album Mylo Xyloto that has turned into a comic miniseries. Interesting! At lunchtime, The Walking Dead will raise you from the undead before David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel talk the Bones season seven shocker. Elijah Wood will be there to discuss his voice work on Disney's Tron: Legacy series before afternoon highlight and sure-to-be-packed-to-the-gills Game of Thrones panel moderated by series-and-novel creator George R.R. Martin. A portion of the cast: including Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Cersei Lannister, Robb and Catelyn Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen will be on hand to dish on winter's impending arrival. White walkers!
Think you're done yet? Oh no, my friends, there's much more--including Bob's Burgers, a preview of Resident Evil: Retribution, and a panel discussing kick-ass ladies featuring Kristin Bauer van Straten, Sarah Wayne Callies, Kristin Kreuk, Nikki Reed and Anna Torv. Wil Wheaton will serve up a Q&A for Falling Skies.
Sony heads up a huge two-hour panel featuring their upcoming films, including the reboot of Total Recall with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston on stage, as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's futuristic Looper, and Neill Blonkamp's Elysium featuring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.
Phew! But we're not done yet, America. Oh no. Joss Whedon and Anthony Bourdain both have panels during the evening portion, before Bryan Cranston has another panel with his hit show Breaking Bad. Cult-favorites that ended-too-soon for some fans (Dollhouse, FlashForward, Firefly, and The Middleman) have their own panel — with Firefly's hosted by the Science Channel — about what the writers wish they could've shown before Resident Evil: Damnation has a 7-minute sneak preview event with a subsequent Q&A.
Saturday starts out strong with a panel for next year's Will and Jaden Smith film/comic book, After Earth. G4's Attack of the Show comes up next with a behind-the-scenes look at the nerd-favorite. Then it's a trip to Storybrooke, where the cast of Once Upon A Time will chat about the magical show. Keep an eye out, as Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla, and Emilie de Ravin will all be on hand. Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton are hosting a Geek & Sundry panel that promises big-time announcements that Wheaton fans will sure to delight over for days after. Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, and Geoffrey Arend will all be on-hand to discuss their new film Save the Date, which tells a contemporary story of modern love using the style and tropes of comic book storytelling to make the movie. A highlight of Saturday morning is definitely the sneak-peek of Django Unchained, featuring a Q&A with Quentin Tarantino and the cast. Futurama also has a panel on the day, as well as Chris Hardwick's ever-popular Nerdist empire. But Saturday's shenanigans don't stop here--we're barely even through lunchtime, you guys--other panel highlights include The Simpsons, Jake Gyllenhaal will discuss his new film End of Watch, and the crew from Family Guy will also chat up the convention. There's a panel each for the folks from Grimm, Being Human, and Vampire Diaries, to discuss the supernatural dramas second, third, and fourth respective seasons. The Shameless cast talks drunken shenanigans and family calamities before the evening takes off with the big guns. On the TV front, True Blood, Glee, MythBusters, and Cinemax's Femme Fatales all get their own Q&A time. Movie highlights in the evening include Iron Man 3 and Person of Interest. Nerd hero Kevin Smith also has his own panel.
The day starts off strong with a Fringe panel featuring stars Anna Torv, Josh Jackson, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole, and John Noble. After that, things get Supernatural with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, but continue with an alleged "earth-shattering announcements that will change the life of Peter Parker [aka Spiderman] for another 50 years" in a panel featuring the Marvel crew. Intrigue! By then it's lunchtime and the cult-favorite Doctor Who will premiere some exclusive content in preparation for the upcoming season of the BBC hit. Seth MacFarlane will be on hand to premiere the first episode from season four of The Cleveland Show. In an attempt to make us all feel 100 years old, there will be a 20th anniversary celebration/panel for Buffy the Vampire Slayer which will feature surprise guests and the original movie Buffy, Kristy Swanson, as well as stars Nicholas Brendon and Clare Kramer. There will also be a separate screening of the musical episode later on in the afternoon. FX favorite Sons of Anarchy will also take an hour on the stage, as well as a panel on the Harry Potter fandom.
Phew! Information overload much? For those of you that are going, which of these panels are you most excited about? For those not attending but keeping score, which panels do you think will be the true highlights? Let us know in the comments!
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Even if you’re one of the 19 other people in a competitive internship at Dean Witter with Chris Gardner (Will Smith) you gotta root for the guy. Life’s beaten him up but not got him down. He lugs his computer-monitor-sized bone density scanner all over San Francisco hoping to sell just one to make ends meet for his family—but nobody’s buying. As his wife’s (Thandie Newton) discontentment nears a boiling point Chris accepts an internship at financial institution Dean Witter—six months without pay and only one of the 20 applicants will ultimately get a job out of it. This sends her packing. She leaves Chris and their son Christopher (Jaden Smith) to fend for themselves at which point they get evicted. It’s the tip of the iceberg because over the course of Chris’ penniless pursuit of the Dean Witter job (and “happyness”) he and Christopher will get by sleeping in homeless shelter--and even in train-station bathrooms. Chris had always vowed to never leave his son and he keeps his promise but there’s no guarantee that his perseverance will pay off. Except for the fact that Happyness is “INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY”! Will Smith is getting all the awards buzz but it’s his real-life son Jaden who transcends all expectations in Happyness. Jaden’s never acted in a movie before and it’s safe to assume that because of his father's long-running movie stardom he could not have grown up in a more different environment than that of his character. Which makes it all the more amazing for this 8-year-old Hollywood tyke to grasp even if coincidentally the plight of a nomadic urban child. The best part about little Jaden is that his performance doesn’t seem robotic like so many child actors who are already too "seasoned" for their own good. Aside from the expected cutesy laughs there’s genuine spontaneity in Jaden’s performance obviously thanks to the fact that he’s acting opposite his dad. Papa Smith gives what’s probably his best performance to date although he's had a career of primarily action roles that weren't exactly conducive to a skills showcase. He delivers the goods here—as seen in the tear-rific trailer—as a man whose whole life is his child but frankly the tears evoked might be too few for Oscar’s liking. Newton (Crash) in a small role is terribly miscast but Mr. and Mr. Smith dominate the screen anyway. Even with the studio flaunting the movie’s "Inspired by a true story..." tagline like a badge of honor—as studios tend to do—and this being the holiday season and all Italian director Gabriele Muccino expends way too much effort into the crowd-pleasing/feel-good aspects of Happyness. The happy ending everyone already knows about should be saccharine enough. Granted this is why a studio loves true stories—one that begins on a low note ends on a really high note and fluctuates all over the radar in between—and it may make the film more pleasing to its targeted mainstream audiences but Muccino and writer Steve Conrad (The Weather Man) really take the gloss factor much too far. In this case they essentially try to tell us a mostly sad story but will not let us feel sad. For instance during what could be very dark reflective scenes potentially connecting with viewers who have struggled through similar problems music befitting a children’s tale overtakes the would-be drama so we don’t ever feel too badly for Chris. It’s nice that the director cares so much for us but oftentimes the best directors are the ones who show an audience tough love.