Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for remakes and reboots has lead to a fair number of films - deemed as classics by some - being revamped and brought to life. The trend has found mixed results at the box-office and in some particular instances, fans of the original films being remade or rebooted have gone downright nuclear seeing their favorite cinematic tales retold with new castings. For fans of late 1980s comedies, the pairing up of Steve Martin and Michael Caine in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was an instant classic (though the film was actually a remake itself)
So of course, it should come as no surprise that MGM has decided to remake Scoundrels, with the cast's genders reversed - pitting female versions of the story’s con artist duo against a wealthy heir, attempting to bilk him out of his inheritance. And we now know that one of the two con women will be played by none other than Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect 2).
For those unfamiliar, the plot of the original Scoundrels makes the comedy obvious: two con men engage in an elaborate competition to see who among them can be the first to swindle a wealthy (and ostensibly clueless) heiress out of $50,000. The competition takes the pair to the exotic south of France where they set to work via any unscrupulous means they can come up with in order to win the bet. Michael Caine’s portrayal of Lawrence Jamieson received a Golden Globe nomination, and the film is widely acknowledged as one of the best from Steve Martin’s extensive 1980’s comedic output.
Even so, the amount of time that's passed (and the fact that modern audiences following Wilson's career may be too young to have even heard of the original) makes the remake announcement a bit odd. With Hollywood’s box-office receipts shrinking this summer after a handful of less-than-stellar reboots, remakes and sequels, the call for major studios to invest more effort in original productions has once again been sounded. Remaking Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with women in the leads isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but if Rebel Wilson’s comedic abilities are strong enough to lead a production such as this, it’s arguable that something more original could perhaps better suit her and MGM.
At this point, all we know (as reported by Variety) is that MGM has set out to remake Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. There’s always the possibility that the script could surpass the 1988 version, so from that perspective a remake could very well be hilarious. However, this will mark the second time that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is remade, meaning MGM will have its work cut out for itself in bringing something new and something beyond a mere gender twist to a familiar storyline.
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