Is nothing sacred anymore – not even the fond memories of our childhood? When we flocked to cinemas in the ’90s, we were enthralled by flashy thrillers and high-octane action films, soppy rom-coms, and the Disney boom.
However, things are a little different these days. With everything from Baywatch to IT coming under the remake hammer, even Resident Evil is set for a reboot before its final film even makes it onto home-release.
To make you feel even older, the ‘90s officially ended 17 years ago as we embraced Y2K and the likes of Harry Potter and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Leaving the ‘90s behind, we waved goodbye to Britney Spears “doing it again,” a floppy-haired Leonardo DiCaprio, and Will Smith sporting baggy jeans.
Movies of the time, like The Lion King and The Matrix, may be set for a 21st century update, but the rest of the decade has remained largely untouched in the remake stakes. However, how much longer before Hollywood milks its cash cow and tries to reboot Titanic?
While some films like Groundhog Day or Men In Black would work perfectly for a new generation of fans and a remake, here are 15 ’90s Movies That Should Never Be Remade.
An adorable Mara Wilson made the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda what it was, but while the actress herself has since shied away from cinemas, perhaps it is for the best that we have shied away from a remake.
We have had many Dahl films turned into feature films (twice with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and Matilda is still one of the best, thanks to its mischievous ‘90s quality of pure whimsy. The cast may have reunited for the 17th anniversary in 2013, but so far it has remained an untouched piece of our childhoods.
Interestingly, Matilda has proved extremely popular on the stage, while you can’t help but feel the novelty would wear off for another big screen adaptation. Mainly, it is the cast that would make more of Matilda hard to swallow.
Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman were the stereotypical nasty couple as Harry and Zinnia Wormwood, offset by Embeth Davidtz and the sweet Miss. Honey. However, up there with pure ‘90s villainy, could anyone ever top Pam Ferris as the iron-clad Trunchbull?
In the days after Stallone became known as Rocky and Rambo, but before he packed a punch in his advancing years for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the action superstar played Gabe Walker in Renny Harlin’s Cliffhanger.
Set against the snowy backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, and featuring a paper-thin plot about European terrorists akin to Die Hard, Cliffhanger wasn’t actually as bad as it could’ve been. Stallone was all muscles and man, it featured a pre-Walking Dead Michael Rooker, and John Lithgow was the gloriously camp villain, Eric Qualen.
TriStar was working on The Dam (Cliffhanger 2) in 1994, which would’ve taken Gabe to the similarly high altitude of the Hoover Dam and presumably thrown another witty one-line villain his way. However, while we loved Cliffhanger and it worked, would it still fly today?
In 2017, and beyond the wave of ’00s films about cyber terrorists, the cheap ‘90s thrills just wouldn’t work. We last heard of a remake in 2014, but it seems that everything has gone a little “chilly” on the mountain tops.
13. The Usual Suspects
You only need to hear two words to know exactly why we should never remake The Usual Suspects – “Keyser Söze.” Long before Bryan Singer was known for the X-Men series, he took on the gritty noir thriller about criminal escapades gone wrong.
Christopher McQuarrie wrote the script, using the chilling real-life story of John List for inspiration. List had murdered his family in 1971 and spent 20 years evading justice under a new alias. Elsewhere, all the characters’ names bore a resemblance to colleagues that McQuarrie had worked with at the law firm Kayser Sume – see the resemblance there? It was witty, it was clever, and it was clearly a personal piece of work for both Singer and McQuarrie.
Sharp screenplay aside, the film is lauded by Kevin Spacey’s part as Verbal Kint, a role that McQuarrie specifically wrote with Spacey in mind. Appearing in nearly every “Best Villain” list since 1995, any iteration other than Spacey’s portrayal would be a desecration of the source. Secondly, once you know the twist – and as one of the best twists in cinema – there is really no need to see another lineup of the motley con men.
12. The Big Lebowski
There is no denying that Joel and Ethan Coen can craft a brilliant piece of cinema, but alongside their work like No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski is just perfect the way it is. Although the Cohens have always stated they will “never” return to Lebowski, a (non-Cohen) spin-off focusing on Jesus Quintana is unfortunately on its way.
With a typical Coen “all-star” cast of Julianne Moore, John Goodman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Big Lebowski, even their combined talent is eclipsed by Jeff Bridges as “The Dude.” Part crime-caper, all laughs, something just clicked with the ‘90s vibe of ransom comedy – something not quite as funny these days!
Also, it is only with time that The Big Lebowski managed to mellow its critics and become a cult favorite of the decade. You can only imagine the likes of Seth Rogen or Zach Galifianakis trying their hand at making The Big Lebowski funny again by playing the lead, but it would surely leave a nasty taste in our mouths to see anyone else slip on a pair of sandals and become The Dude.
11. Space Jam
The quirky pairing of live-action and cartoon may have worked for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but while we have been clamoring for a remake/sequel to that toon caper since 1988, is anyone really excited for more Space Jam?
The loony idea of crossing the Looney Tunes with Michael Jordan was pure VHS indulgence of its time. It was loud, it was colorful, and it was irritating, but just like Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, we kind of enjoyed it. As Jumanji has had to undergo a facelift to bring it up to date, it is hard to see Space Jam 2.0 being a slam dunk with anyone who has the patience to sit through it.
If you had the talent then… perhaps, but even Michael Jordan was hardly leading man material in the original, was he? There may be a current buck in the trend of adding wrestlers into Hollywood productions, but where The Rock and Dave Bautista have it nailed, it is a struggle to see the acting career of LeBron James taking off after Space Jam 2.
10. Home Alone
When slapstick works, it works, and when it doesn’t, it really doesn’t. Back in 1990 and 1992, we had no problem in seeing an angel-faced Macaulay Culkin hurl bricks, launch paint cans, and potentially electrocute to death, two hapless intruders. About as festive as films come, the first two Home Alone movies earned a special place in our hearts – so why go back?
Obviously, the lead’s family abandonment wasn’t intentional, but leaving your kid to the mercy of burglars and potential murderers is a little too close to the bone in a security conscious 2017. As the numerous sequels – and that weird reboot/remake Home Alone 4 – have shown us, anything beyond Home Alone 2 belongs in the bargain bin.
Although Culkin wasn’t quite so lucky in shedding the child actor curse, his elfish looks and sassy demeanor made the first two films what they were. It is a tough call on whether Lost in New York outshines it predecessor, but it is a definite fact that most people would rather sit down and watch them on repeat for eternity than have anyone desecrate the franchise’s memory even further.
9. Four Weddings And A Funeral
Alongside films like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill, Four Weddings and Funeral is a big British grin from yesteryear and was understandably the country’s highest-grossing film ever at the time.
It had Wet, Wet, Wet on the soundtrack and came at a time when Andie MacDowell was the lady of the decade. Sadly, just like Liz Hurley and Geena David, MacDowell has faded into the backdrop of sloppy romance films and a few huge roles, while the memory of Four Weddings remained as a pristine piece of ’90s nostalgia.
It balanced heartache and heartmake in perfect harmony, and everyone remembers John Hannah’s tearful speech at the “funeral.” Even though the clue was in the title, few of us expected a film that was so funny could be so tragic as well, and that shock of emotion would surely be lost in a remake.
From the storyline to the script, why would we need to go over it again? Four Weddings was a quintessentially British flick of its time and sits nicely in the rom-com section of everyone’s DVD or VHS collection. Some things are just too fuzzy to mess with.
8. Mrs. Doubtfire
Something about a man dressing up in women’s clothes to directly break a court order seems a little rough nowadays. However, back in 1993, it was the charming tale of a Scottish nanny that we have come to love.
There are some who can nearly quote Mrs. Doubtfire word for word, and it’s not hard to see why. Sally Field was the stoic mother, there was a lovable band of kids (including Mara Wilson again), and Pierce Brosnan played the suave but slimy new man on the scene.
However, Mrs. Doubtfire was truly solidified in everyone’s hearts by Robin Williams’ portrayal of the dour nanny. Williams juggled his part as Doubtfire and Daniel Hillard with ease, and although there were plans for a sequel, it is probably for the best they never came to fruition.
The film would’ve been nothing without Robin Williams, and we just know that a remake couldn’t even come close to matching him. In loving memory of the Williams and the ‘90s itself, please leave this one alone.
Jon Woo attempted to woo us (and won) in 1997 with gritty thriller Face/Off. Pitting John Travolta and Nicolas Cage against each other as an FBI agent and a psychopathic terrorist, the dynamic was just right, and audiences were left pleasantly shocked.
The story followed Travolta’s Agent Sean Archer, who is forced undercover by literally swapping faces with Cage’s Castor Troy. The subject matter was overly graphic and the plot was frankly ludicrous, but Face/Off got under your skin and refused to budge. A skillful game of cat and mouse unraveled among high-speed chases, shootouts, and slo-mo doves. At the peak of Cage and Travolta hype, the duo beautifully bounced off each other in the edge-of-your-seat film.
Sure, Face/Off may not be remembered for its character development or its scripting, but it is still up there as one of the best films to come out of the decade. Although Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were originally tipped to play Archer and Troy, the final casting is easily a better choice. It was big, it was flashy, and in the realms of Speed and Die Hard, it is hard to imagine anyone doing it better nowadays.
6. Pulp Fiction
With such a stylized approach to his work, you could argue that no one could remake the work of Quentin Tarantino better than the man himself, while Pulp Fiction is probably the best example of this.
Continuing the Travolta trend, Pulp Fiction was a glorious ensemble crime flick. You would also be hard-pressed to find a better cast of Hollywood A-listers; Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, and Harvey Keitel are to name but a few. However, cast aside, the film had a break-neck script and boasts one of the best use of timeline trickery out there.
Elsewhere, the soundtrack was glorious and it was hard not to tap along to the eclectic vibe of feel-good songs, even as our cast of miscreants was drugged, shot, and sliced. Whether it be dancing at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, the Royale speech, Butch’s watch, or “Bring out the gimp,” some parts of the film became more iconic than the feature itself.
5. American Beauty
The iconic imagery of Mena Suvari lying in rose petals is pure unadulterated ‘90s nostalgia, and Sam Mendes’ American Beauty was a thinking blockbuster for 1999.
With its Wisteria Lane vibe about perfect suburban America, the film was about as dark as it gets and showed that we never really know what goes on behind closed doors. The tale followed Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, tracking the last days of Lester’s life and knowing that one of the people we were about to meet was his killer.
Although Spacey wasn’t even on the radar for the studio’s choice of lead, Mendes pushed for his inclusion. It was indeed Spacey, as Lester, who made us feel the tragic and uncompromising misery of the Burnhams and their neighbors.
American Beauty basically gave us the big twist at the start and slowly rolled out from there to an emotional and unexpected conclusion. Juggling themes of repression, sexuality, and homophobia, it was much more than just your classic whodunnit. With rave reviews and lauded as the best film of 1999, the quaint suburban mystery is should be left like the perfectly manicured lawn that it is!
4. Edward Scissorhands
In 1990, it was director Tim Burton who gave us a fresh look at Frankenstein’s monster with Edward Scissorhands. Burton brought the pastels of the sleepy American town to life and glossed them with a coat of black. As one of the hottest casting races of the time, Johnny Depp beat Tom Cruise and Gary Oldman to become the titular Edward.
Before Depp was sailing the seven seas as Jack Sparrow, he was probably best-known for his role as an inventor’s creation with scissors for hands. Elsewhere Winona Ryder played the doe-eyed lead and also sported some truly terrible old lady prosthetics. Edward Scissorhands contains the last major role for the legendary Vincent Price and has become a cult classic as one of Burton’s most celebrated movies.
It gave us tragedy, comedy, and romance, combined with a family film that didn’t necessarily leave you feeling good. Not only containing the first pairing of Depp and Burton, Edward Scissorhands is favorably called their favorite piece of work by both Burton and composer Danny Elfman. Although there was a series of sequel comic books, thankfully no one has attempted the impossible task of replacing Depp or Burton in a remake.
3. The Frighteners
Before tackling Hobbits or giant monkeys, Peter Jackson gave us his horror-comedy The Frighteners. Featuring Michael J. Fox in his last live-action leading role before his semi-retirement, the film failed to win big at the box office but went onto become a cult classic.
Fox played Frank Bannister, a con man psychic who exploits the local residents of his waterside town. Helped by the ghosts of a nerd, a gunslinger, and an African-American gangster, Bannister is still haunted by the death of his wife. Elsewhere, the town is rocked by a spate of killings which seem to be related to a serial killer’s rampage years earlier.
It was filled with stereotypes, bad ‘90s scripting, and more dodgy CGI than an episode of The Walking Dead, however, The Frighteners was a treat to watch. We have rightly become a little touchy about mass-murdering gun-toters, so the story of a madman shooting up a hospital and then continuing his reign of terror beyond the grave isn’t particularly PC or remake-worthy.
2. Being John Malkovich
Whoever thought, “I know, let’s stick John Cusack inside John Malkovich,” must’ve sounded mad; however, in 1999, Spike Jonze dragged us into the wonderfully weird world of Being John Malkovich.
A truly madcap premise, Being John Malkovich has Cusack’s downtrodden Craig Schwartz discover a secret door that allows you to briefly enter the mind of the Oscar-winning actor. A puppeteer by trade, Craig soon realizes that he can not only make money from his venture, but also control Malkovich from inside.
It was only thanks to Jonze’s father-in-law Francis Ford Coppola that the script even made it to Malkovich, who was apparently thrilled with its premise. As for selecting Malkovich as the focus, Jonze reportedly wanted a thespian with a wacky name.
While the man himself is still a prolific actor in his advancing years, a Malkovich-less remake would be impossible to craft. Also, what would be the point in general? Literally heading into the mind of the actor, Being John Malkovich was such a weird ride it still remains a largely divisive film that would surely struggle to find supporters of a remake.
1. The Sixth Sense
Known for their brilliant twists, it would be tough to find a reason to remake any of M. Night Shyamalan’s films. Categorically one of his best, if not the best film in his catalog, The Sixth Sense was a chilling and clever horror that left us open-mouthed when the credits rolled.
The supernatural horror starred a young Haley Joel Osment in one of the best child actor portrayals out there. Bruce Willis was particularly somber as Malcolm Crowe, a child psychiatrist assigned to help the little boy who can see dead people. The twist won’t be revealed here, but to be honest, you must’ve heard about it and will kick yourself that you missed the clues. While some of Shyamalan’s work is remembered for being a bit gimmicky, The Sixth Sense was a shining example of the director on top form.
Only beaten at the yearly box office by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Sixth Sense was also nominated for six Academy Awards but sadly won none. Remaking a film that is based on a twist is always going to be difficult, but when the feature is as well-received as The Sixth Sense, it is best to quit while you’re ahead.
What ’90s movie do you think should NEVER be remade? Let us know in the comments!
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