When I first visited this topic I focused on song remakes that I actually enjoyed. Since then, I’ve viewed a couple of films that have me once again pondering this issue, especially as I await the remake of my favorite film of all time (see my 10/16/11 post about Sparkle, whose release date is 8/17/12). Okay, so the most recent example I have of a (disappointing) remake is the movie version of the 80’s stage play Mama I Want to Sing, which stars singer Ciara in the lead role and features Lynn Whitfield, Hill Harper, Billy Zane, Juanita Bynum and a cameo by Marvin Winans. This movie was supposed to hit the theaters back in 2008 via Codeblack Entertainment, but was halted (various reasons for the halt in release were speculated). Then in 2011, someone uploaded the entire film on youtube. Now I can’t stand bootleg bonuses, so as a redbox regular I rented this newly released DVD to watch last weekend with my 14 yr old sister, whose name also happens to be Cierra (different spelling). The movie started and was visually stunning, with beautiful sparkly, bright and sepia tones emerging as the credits rolled. The viewer is then led into opening scenes that setup the background for the dysfunctional dynamic that grows between Ciara’s character and her mother, played by Lynn Whitfield. Considering Ms. Lynn is one of the few actresses who slam dunks almost every role she comes across, Hill Harper never comes to the table empty-handed and Ciara is no performing slouch, I expected to get more than my $1.30 Redbox fee worth of entertainment. What I received was high level performances from the veteran actors who made the best of a choppy script, or was it an okay script and choppy direction, and a little less than my money’s worth (that’s harsh isn’t it?).
I am not certain which was at fault (script or direction) considering I fought my way through intermittent boredom with a 14 year old, who fell asleep long before the movie’s halfway point, laying too comfortably beside me. For those reading who don’t know the history of the play Mama I Want To Sing, it is the longest running Black off-broadway musical in American history. It proved that an audience was available for a gospel based production, and the story has the universal theme of following one’s dream at its core. I wish the filmmakers would have spent more time developing the story and working out whatever kinks interrupted the theatrical release, because a musical like this should have been synonymous with, dare I say, Dreamgirls.
Now, I’m not going to spend much time on this next movie because it should have never happened…you hear me, I said NEVER. There was a 2009 remake of the 1980 film Fame. Now I like Naturi Naughton, I enjoyed her performance as Lil’ Kim in Notorious (the Biggie biopic), and she did a great job singing one of Fame’s signature songs “Out Here On My Own”. But that was ALL I enjoyed about this film. It should have never happened…did you hear me? NEVER. That being said, the 80’s television series that followed the original was a tv staple for me as a child, but I won’t welcome a remake of that either. Just come up with another…oh wait someone did, that would be Glee.
Okay, so I let bitter Thomasena get herself together to finish off the remainder of this post, politely. I haven’t seen the Footloose remake, also recently released on DVD, but it received not so great reviews upon release last Fall. I had no interest in going to theaters for that one, and I am completely content remembering Kevin Bacon jumping around in his younger days opposite a young Lori Singer; although I hear the stage adaptation made several years ago was fairly good. Did you see the film? What were your thoughts?
Lastly, I heard today that a Steel Magnolias remake is being created by the Lifetime Network and will star Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard, and Jill Scott. Although I support Black women being featured, and I believe in the talents of each of these phenomenal women, my inner movie critic has two words…WHY and NO! I mean, the 1989 movie is a classic, so why even touch?
Okay, I’ll leave it there. Looking forward to your comments. Until next thought, Thomasena.
PS – this has nothing to do with film, but the 1990’s breakthrough sketch comedy show In Living Color is also being remade, and will air this year on Fox. What are your thoughts on that? (note: Keenan Ivory Wayans will serve as host and Executive Producer and that’s a plus in my book!).