These days it seems like Hollywood is all about remakes, superhero movies, and remakes of superhero movies. Sometimes the remake has very little in common with the original, in which case we call it a “reboot”. Sometimes the result is actually pretty amazing. Ocean’s Eleven was fantastic both times around (it’s just unfortunate someone decided to make an Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen). Jeff Bridges out-John-Wayned John Wayne in True Grit. But Russell Brand’s Arthur crawled under the high bar set by Dudley Moore and the trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot has sent the internet into a murderous rage.
Much like nobody will ever do “Stairway to Heaven” as well as Led Zeppelin, nobody could paint a ceiling like Michelangelo, and no-one will tell you about Huckleberry Finn’s adventures like Mark Twain, some movies should be universally recognized as masterpieces.
Labyrinth – A flop at the box office, bringing in only just over half its production budget, Labyrinth has garnered a cult following in home video formats. To the general population of movie theater patrons, an adventure movie starring puppets isn’t a likely draw, and David Bowie, who’s “Serious Moonlight” shine had worn down a bit, wasn’t what 1986 America considered leading man material.
Despite being a bit dark, this movie is great for kids. It has fantastical creatures, silly music, and the classic adventure quest plot architecture. Oh, and don’t worry, you’re kids won’t notice your troubled morals over Jennifer Connelly being a bit too young to be that attractive in at least twenty states. Oh, and they also don’t notice David Bowie’s bulge. That bulge… what the hell is the deal with that bulge?
Forbidden Planet – A “faster than light spaceship of the future” travels to a faraway world, commanded by a very young Leslie Nielsen, who was so unknown at the time that the movie’s big star was Walter Pidgeon. The special effects in this movie are excellent for 1956. These days, they hold up much as the effects in The Wizard Of Oz still hold up, in that they’re nowhere near realistic but you accept them all the same. The plot is still unique, even though Hollywood has had sixty years to copy it. Best yet, this movie introduced us to Robby the Robot, who you know even if you think you don’t. Robby lived on to star in scores of movies and TV shows and to be recreated in wind-up toy form for little kitsch boutique toy stores.
Fight Club – The first rule of Fight Club is… I’ve already said too much.
Oh, yeah, and that whole thing about the movie having you root for people who are essentially terrorists… that wouldn’t play out so well in today’s political climate.
The Princess Bride – There’s no way Hollywood could reproduce a cast that’s this big and this good. There’s no reason they should either. This story will hold up for another hundred years in its current form. There’s nothing to make it feel dated and there’s nothing that could be done better than it has already been done for this film. Besides, the giant was played by an actual giant! How cool is that?
Mrs. Doubtfire – This is another ageless classic, even though it will definitely age. It’s about the story, not the time and place. It’s also about the cast, especially Robin Williams, who ad-libbed so much that extra cameras were employed to ensure they didn’t miss anything. Mrs. Doubtfire was one of Williams’ best characters and she wouldn’t be the same with any other actor, even though the role was originally written for Tim Allen. Can you imagine Tim Allen as Mrs. Doubtfire? Us neither.