Further Evidence that the Remake Is Usually a Mistake

Ann Bartow informs us that the classic Internet idiocy, the Hamster Dance had a so-called sequel, although it doesn’t advance the plot at all and sounds worse without being funny. And now it has a remake. OK, the remake is less bad than the sequel, and even has a funny bit, but even so, why bother?

Are there any remakes in any medium that improve on the originals? All I can think of off the top of my head is Civ II, which I prefer to think of as an upgrade, anyway. (And Civ III was worse…). Please note that I do not count as a remake an adaptation, say of a novel to film, which is a whole different nest of snakes.

The rule for sequels being worse than originals isn’t as absolute as the rule for remakes–especially in literature which has seen many fine series such as the Forsyth Saga and the Aubrey/Maturin books–but it’s pretty strong too, isn’t it?

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6 Responses to Further Evidence that the Remake Is Usually a Mistake

  1. Kevin says:

    I think the new Parent Trap is far better than the original. Lindsay Lohan acts circles around Hayley Mills — and is playing an American and a Brit instead of two Americans from different coasts, which is far more difficult.

  2. Former Lee Warmer says:

    Well, if music is a “medium” then there are countless examples. Off the top of my head…Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,”…actually, Bob Dylan remakes would be a category unto themselves. As would the British Invasion remakes of blues songs, such as many early Stones songs. A more recent example might be Johnny Cash’s “Hurt,” depending upon your taste. You’ve got to eliminate music from this “rule.”

  3. Michael says:

    Yes, you’re right about music: there have been some great covers.

    But the rule still sorta works: it is rare that a cover in the same style is better than the original (Elton John’s ‘Lucy in the sky with Diamonds’ would be an OK song…if you hadn’t heard of the Beatles), although it happens. Most often, the great covers are those that that change the style, often in very unexpected ways(think the Ray Charles version of Eleanor Rigby, or even the punk version).

  4. ChrisB says:

    And Civ IV, while only arguably better than Civ II, is pretty clearly better than Civ III.

  5. Ann Bartow says:

    But back to Hamster dances! Here’s a parody of the original. Only slightly more annoying!

  6. wcw says:

    A cover song is not a “remake” any more than my version of a folk song would be. Billy Bragg’s rewrite of the English-language lyrics to “The Internationale” was a remake, and much as I like Mr. Bragg’s best work, said remake was indeed not of the same class.

    Most sequels suck as well, because most are not actualy continuations (like, say, the Godfather II), they are “whore’s movies” (c+p William Goldman) that in fact do attempt to remake the original with an eye towards cashing in and nothing else.

    Cover songs that verge towards remakes, in other words that neither change the original interpretation in some marked way nor substantively improve it, tend to suck for the same reason.

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