Bleats

Dear Hollywood: Please Cool It On The Reboots And Have An Original Idea For Once

Audiences reward original storytelling, so why does Hollywood insist on playing it safe?

These reboots are getting out of control. The latest TV show to get rebooted is Peep Show, with a twist: women will star as the lead characters, instead of David Mitchell and Robert Webb. US remakes of UK comedies haven’t been known to succeed, with The Office being the lone exception.

Then there’s all the live-action remakes of classic animated Disney films. Since 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, Disney has released seven remakes, nine if you include Maleficent and Christopher Robin. Plus, nine more are in the works: The Lion King, a Maleficent sequel, Lady and the Tramp, Mulan, and several others.

I already know why studios are rebooting everything – because reboots make money – but knowing why doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

In the case of animated Disney classics, some things just work better in animated form, and if the reboots are following the same story as the original, what exactly are they bringing to the table, creativity-wise?

As for reboots like the all-female Ghostbusters, I understand the rationale behind them, and they’re different enough from the originals that they don’t feel completely pointless. In the case of Ghostbusters, it introduced the franchise to a new generation, and featured women in roles women don’t often get to play.

But I just don’t feel the same way about shot-for-shot reboots like the ones Disney is producing. Several classic TV shows have also been rebooted recently, with Charmed failing to make waves, Heathers and Roseanne seemingly existing only to cause controversy, and Murphy Brown getting cancelled after one season.

Meanwhile, an example of a reboot that makes sense is Queer Eye. Since it’s a reality show, there’s no narrative to rehash, and there’s endless material to work with – there will always be people in need of makeovers. Plus, the new Fab 5 have taken the old categories and put their own spin on them, and they quickly captured the hearts of audiences around the world.

But so many of these reboots aren’t offering audiences anything new. You can get virtually the same experience from staying home and watching the original movie on VHS, and you’ll save money in the process.

I realise that I’m most likely not the target audience for a lot of these reboots, although nostalgia is a powerful motivator. In the case of the Disney reboots, kids are the primary audience. But wouldn’t kids rather watch The Lion King as an animated feature rather than something with creepy, sickly-looking Scar and hyper-realistic Pumbaa?

He’s sick because climate change is decimating his habitat.

Surely if kids want realism from their lion-based Shakespeare adaptations, they can watch David Attenborough documentaries?

Reboots just feel incredibly lazy, and safe – these stories are already beloved, so people will watch them, and want to take their kids to see them. While there is a nice element of being able to share your childhood favourites with your kids, you don’t need a reboot to make that happen.

I also worry that in pouring all of this money into reboots, studios could be ignoring some amazing original ideas. Think of the original and wonderfully diverse things we’ve seen in the past few years: Crazy Rich Asians, Vida, Tuca & Bertie, Jane the Virgin, Killing Eve, The Society, On My Block, Shrill, Eighth Grade, Get Out. How many amazing projects are being overlooked in favour of reboots that allow studios to play it safe?

Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe Is The Back-Up Plan We All Need For Love

Ali Wong and Randall Park's natural chemistry makes the movie a joy to watch.

Always Be My Maybe, Netflix’s most recent rom-com, premiered on May 31st, and if you haven’t already watched it this weekend, you should definitely make time to remedy that ASAP.

The movie stars Ali Wong and Randall Park, who also wrote the film together, and whose friendship dates back years, back to when both were doing stand-up in the Bay Area in the mid-2000s.

It’s directed by Nahnatchka Khan, who created Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23, as well as Fresh Off The Boat, the ABC sitcom in which Park stars as Louis Huang opposite Constance Wu.

The movie focuses on Sasha and Marcus, two childhood friends who had a falling out and stopped speaking for years, only to reconnect after Marcus and his dad are hired to install air-conditioning at Sasha’s San Francisco home.

A lot is made of the different paths they took in life – Sasha became a successful celebrity chef, while Marcus still lives at home with his dad – and a lot of the tension between them is a result of the disparities in their incomes, interests and life goals.

A key theme of the movie is food – obviously, since Sasha is a chef – and how food not only brings Sasha and Marcus together, but also highlights the disparities between the directions their lives have taken.

Writing for Vice, Bettina Makalintal observes:

“To say that food brings people together is an easy narrative, but Always Be My Maybe doesn’t fall into that. Instead, it allows food to also be a point of disagreement and a stumbling block, highlighting their divisions in money, ambition, and success—at some points, food undermines the possibility of a relationship.”

The film includes several exciting cameos – Daniel Dae Kim plays Sasha’s lacklustre fiance/manager, and Keanu Reeves plays himself on an incredibly uncomfortable and bizarre double date with Sasha, Marcus and Marcus’ girlfriend, Jenny. (Read about just how much Keanu improvised in this interview with Ali in Rolling Stone, he is low-key a comedic genius.)

While the basic narrative – childhood friends/crushes reuniting later in life – is a familiar one, Wong and Park use their comedic abilities and personal history to great effect, making Sasha and Marcus’ relationship feel wonderfully natural and realistic, and it makes the film incredibly enjoyable to watch.

Always Be My Maybe is the latest in a long line of Netflix romcoms – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Someone Great, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, Set It Up, heck, even A Christmas Prince – and the latest in a shorter line of Hollywood films with majority-Asian casts – primarily Crazy Rich Asians and Always Be My Maybe. It’s a welcome addition to both of these genres, and this is the kind of romcom I’d like to see more of from Netflix – heartwarming, entertaining, and authentic.

Looking For Alaska Is The Latest Book-To-Screen Adaptation, Here’s What To Expect

Will it live up to every bookish teen's expectations?

If you were a teenager about a decade ago, and one prone to spending too much time on Tumblr, you may have also had a slight John Green obsession – I know I did. I devoured all of his books, but Looking for Alaska was always the one to beat, being his first, and being so critically acclaimed.

Well, get ready to be transported back to your teens, because Looking for Alaska is the latest John Green book to be adapted for the screen. Unlike The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, though, Alaska is being adapted for the small screen — your computer screen, to be exact, which seems fitting for a book by a man made famous by YouTube.

Looking for Alaska will be released on Hulu on October 18th, which is still a while away, but here’s what we know about the adaptation so far.

It will star Charlie Plummer, who played John Paul Getty III in Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World, as Miles Halter, and Kristine Froseth, from Sierra Burgess Is A Loser and The Society as Alaska Young.

It’s being produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who you might remember gifted the world with The O.C. and Gossip Girl, as well as the Dynasty reboot more recently.

John Green is also one of the executive producers, so the show will probably end up being a fairly faithful adaptation of the book.

Fourteen years after the book’s debut, are audiences still as hyped up about Looking for Alaska as everyone was on Tumblr ten years ago?

A cursory scroll through Twitter suggests that people are excited for the adaptation, and it’s not just people in their 20s and 30s who read the book when it first came out, but younger fans, too.

Fans in attendance at BookCon in New York were treated with clips from the show, which is still filming, based on casting calls posted on social media.

We’ll just have to wait until October to see if the latest adaptation of a John Green novel lives up to everyone’s expectations. Here’s hoping it’s more like The Fault In Our Stars than Paper Towns.

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