Remaking the Classics
Putting a contemporary edge on the holiday screen gems.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
* HOLLYWOOD HOLIDAYS
Everyone loves the holiday classics. But some filmmakers can’t leave well enough alone—don’t they know we like our black-and-white, and that sometimes simplicity is holy? At least three classic holiday movies are in danger of getting a modern makeover in the near future. Just thought you should know.
Quentin Tarantino is actively seeking funding for a sequel to A Christmas Story. The Pulp Fiction director has written a script and plans to direct the project, set 25 years after the cherished 1983 classic A Christmas Story and tentatively titled A Christmas Story II: Kill Ralphie Too.
“I loved the original,” Tarantino told Variety. “But I wanted to go in a completely different direction. And what’s the opposite of that warm feeling you get when you see it on cable every year? That’s right—extreme violence.”
Christian Slater, seeking Travolta-like career defibrillation, is reportedly lobbying for the role of Ralphie, who returns to his idyllic hometown after the suspicious death of his brother Randy, to discover it has been taken over and corrupted by sinister crime lord Black Bart (will Tarantino pal Samuel L. Jackson sign on for the role?). Additionally, poor Ralphie must contend with Chinese gangsters (expect a terrific Christmas Eve ultraviolent sequence in which he takes on a restaurant full of bad guys with a pair of meat cleavers, finally lopping off the head of the gang with the one-liner, “Boughs of holly, my ass!”).
Ralphie eventually teams up with former nemesis Scut Farkus (Andrew McCarthy is being considered) and his old pal Schwartz (Steve Buscemi) to take down Bart and avenge poor Randy’s gruesome, graphic demise. The late great Darren McGavin reprises his role as Ralphie’s dad via digitally inserted footage that didn’t make it into the original version. “It should be seamless,” Tarantino said. “I needed a way to point Ralphie towards his past, and using the old man will show him what’s important in life, and also to direct him to his old Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
“And the finale will be unbelievable—after everyone telling Ralphie not to shoot his own eye out in the original, well, I’ll make sure the audience gets what it wants this time around!”
Oakley is set to negotiate product placement consideration.
Reporters flocked to Mel Gibson’s hastily convened press conference, which found the director announcing that principal shooting for White Hanukkah, his new film “loosely adapted from White Christmas,” will begin early next year.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize, once again, for my recent conduct,” said Gibson. “I don’t have any agenda, but I hope this new movie will show that I love everyone, even the Jews.”
The roles originally played by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye will be reprised by Adam Goldberg and Adrien Brody. (“Did you see The Pianist?” said Gibson. “Adrien plays a terrific Jew. And I should know—some of my best friends are Jewish.”)
The two play a song-and-dance team that play Hanukkah shows in the Catskills. But the resort they’ve played for years is on the verge of being torn down unless they can convince a nasty developer to find another location for his new condos. “He sees the act, and is won over by the hospitality of the Jewish people,” said Gibson. “But here’s the kicker—when they ask him what changed his mind—was it the klezmer, was it the latkes, was it the Manischewitz?—he answers: ‘It was the Christian thing to do.’ That’ll really make the audience think.”
Gibson added that he might play the developer himself, although he is considering offering the part to former Seinfeld actor Michael Richards. “Look,” he said. “I don’t have an agenda here. I just want to tell the truth.”
With the Star Wars films finally behind him, it looks like George Lucas has been focusing on the new version of It’s a Wonderful Life he’s talked about for years. Although the movie won’t be released until December 2007, Lucas recently announced merchandise and video game tie-ins and took questions from reporters about the project.
“Frank Capra was obviously constrained by the lack of special effects and computer-generated images of his day. I mean, it’s a great film, but how can an audience be expected to believe that Clarence is an angel when he isn’t digitally enhanced? It’s ridiculous!”
The director announced that he is reuniting Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman for Wonderful Life. Portman will take on the Donna Reed part; Christensen will do double duty, playing George Bailey in the role screen legend James Stewart made famous and also performing Mr. Potter, the nefarious bank owner who is George’s nemesis. “We’ll digitally enhance him,” said Lucas. “You won’t even be able to tell it’s Hayden.” When asked why the actor would play both roles, Lucas showed annoyance. “Do I have to draw you guys a map? Mr. Potter is George Bailey’s father. Look, Capra may not have been able to make that clear, but I certainly will.”
Clarence, the angel who shows George what life would be like if he’d never been born, will be an entirely digital creation, said Lucas, while James Earl Jones will provide vocals. “That whole part, where George is running around in this fantasy land, will be completely digital. It’s going to be amazing—you never thought Bedford Falls could look this cool. We’ll have to tone down the story some, to make sure it doesn’t take away from the incredible visuals, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Seriously, if Frank Capra could make It’s a Wonderful Life today, I absolutely believe that this is the version he would make.”