Originality has been oozing out of Hollywood incrementally over the past decade so it comes as no surprise to many of us movie buffs that titles such as Star Wars, Blade Runner, Ghostbusters (again) and, somehow incomprehensibly, It’s A Wonderful Life have been associated with some of my least favorite words in the universe — reboot and remake; prequel and sequel.
It seems Hollywood has gone crazy.
Between all the sequels (Jaws, Die Hard, Caddyshack, Indiana Jones) and reboots (you’re not safe here new Star Wars trilogy), it’s hard to even come up with a list of 20 films that have escaped with their integrity intact — with their legacy untarnished from the greed of “re-imagination.”
Luckily for us, art persists and there are certain artists who would force you to kill them and remove their work from their lifeless hands before its remade on the big screen.
Nonetheless, it’s fun to imagine how Hollywood could fuck things up.
Here are 20 movies that never should be revisited and their potential casts.
1. Pulp Fiction
Replacement cast: Channing Tatum, Anthony Mackie, Megan Fox
Everyone’s favorite leading man, Tatum, fills in for Travolta as Vincent Vega, and the result is an epic failure when he tries to recreate the dance floor magic with Megan Fox (replacing Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace).
What’s most disturbing here isn’t the potential for fuck up during casting — I for one wouldn’t mind seeing Leo DiCaprio come in and steal the show in a one-scene performance as the Wolf, but rewriting Quentin Tarantino’s iconic screenplay.
Nobody should try and redo a QT movie at any time, but sadly I think we’re less than a decade away from getting a Reservoir Dogs prequel.
2. The Big Lebowski
Replacement cast: Owen Wilson, Kevin James, Jon Hamm
Let me state it loud and clear: this is my nightmare. Although Wilson is probably the most comparable actor to Jeff Bridges, he simply isn’t the Dude. And, more importantly, why would he want to be? Those are huge jelly loafers he must fill.
Let the record show that if a remake were to be made, I think John Goodman could still play the role of Walter 15-plus years later, but that Jon Hamm has the potential to make a great Donny. With those points said, there’s no need to hand Kevin James another $10 to 20 million paycheck to play Walter – a role that he will embarrass himself trying to perfect.
Also, can we avoid casting Mark Ruffalo as the Jesus? At least pick an actor with some sort of ethnic look.
Side note: There’s not going to be a ton of comedies on this list for those of you sticking around in anticipation to see movies titles like Pineapple Express, Old School and Super Troopers appear. They’re classics in their own right don’t get me wrong, but we’ve got some real Hollywood heavyweights to talk about here.
3. The Shawshank Redemption
Replacement cast: Dustin Hoffman, Michael B. Jordan
Hollywood throws us a curveball to generate excitement and switches the skin color of the lead roles. Hoffman takes over as Red and returns to playing the role of contemplatively frustrated yet obedient prisoner (see: Papillion), while Jordan fills the shoes of Andy Dufresne and returns to playing the social injustice figurehead (see: Fruitvale Station).
If I can bestow some wisdom: don’t fall in love with this smokescreen, this remake will suck regardless how much they’re trying to make it “original” by repurposing the plot in the early 1990s.
The sad realty is that of all the classics mentioned here, Shawshank may actually have some of the best odds of being remade — or at the very least, being made into a modern adaption. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
4. The Godfather
Replacement cast: Robert Deniro (as older Vito), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Franco
Hollywood would really catch fire if rumors ever started to swirl about remaking the Godfather trilogy, but let’s not be naïve and say it can’t happen (it can). Nonetheless, the problem that persists when redoing this timeless epic about family loyalty, the mob, immigration, and governmental corruption is that you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who’d want to attempt to replace Marlon Brando as family patriarch Vito Corleone.
Deniro is the only person with the skills capable of pulling off such a nuanced performance, but he’s already played the character in the sequel. I can’t see him having much interest in the project besides a paycheck. As for the role of his sons, let’s not even go there.
Replacement cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Denzel Washington
Not going to lie, I’d love to see this pairing in a film together, but not this particular project. Similar to Shawshank, I think the odds of Se7en being remade are fairly high, at least judging it by the industry’s standards.
The real question, as we’re going to see multiple times in this thread, is who replaces Kevin Spacey? I guess Christoph Waltz could fill in nicely as John Doe. Let’s not give Hollywood too many good ideas though; I can already here the studio presidents chatting about making this a realty.
6. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Replacement cast: Ryan Gosling, Joaquin Phoenix, James McAvoy
Who gets the pleasure of attempting to replace Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name? It has to be another sun-touched blond with a chiseled face. Ryan Gosling? He’s perfect, but not really. We’re talking about Clint Eastwood here; nobody can impersonate him, yet alone try to steal his iconic spaghetti Western character.
I must admit that this trio (Phoenix as the Ugly and McAvoy as the Bad) would have me giddy about the potential remake. Ultimately though, my loyalty lies with Clint.
Replacement cast: Tom Hardy, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Jr.
Another blockbuster remake cast (sorry, it took me a few movies to really get going). Despite not being American, Hardy fills in for Ray Liotta as Henry Hill and in 20 years from now finds himself being Hollywood’s go-to sixth lead who hawks cheap vodka in his free time. OK, that was cruel but Liotta hasn’t exactly lived up to all that promise he showed under Martin Scorcese’s tutelage all those years ago.
But I digress, Renner has the most difficult task here replacing Joe Pesci as the uncontrollable Tommy. Although none of these three are Italian-Americans, I have a feeling the studio heads wouldn’t see any problems with this cast and would green light the project without giving it much second thought.
8. Good Will Hunting
Replacement cast: Zac Efron, Liam Hemsworth, Brad Pitt
The bad news? With Efron and Hemsworth leading the way, this has the potential to be the worst remake of all the possible ones on this list.
The good news? If it somehow isn’t as bad as I imagine, Pitt kills it as Will’s therapist Sean — the role previously played to perfection by Robin Williams — and finally takes home his long deserved Academy Award for acting. (Note: He won last year for 12 Years a Slave as a producer.)
If Pitt were unavailable, I wouldn’t mind seeing Edward Norton give a stab at this part. He could crush it for sure.
Replacement cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Christian Bale
If they’re ever going to redo this 21st century epic, then they’re going to need a big name to sit above the title where Russell Crowe’s name once hung. Who’s got a bigger name than the dude who played Harry Potter?
Not only will a whole generation of wizard lovers turn out, there will be substantial interest from older film fans surrounding whether or not Radcliffe can act at all — yet alone on the same stage as Bale, who fills in here predictably as the villain Commodus.
It’ll probably be a disaster but with the right director, this is a project that could somehow pull off a 6/10 ranking on IMDb. As long as the studios make back their money, it won’t matter.
Replacement cast: Dave Franco, Josh Hutcherson
Oh God, please spare us. I didn’t think we’d get to many more comedies, but then I started thinking about Mike and Trent’s journey through Vegas and LA and began to realize Swingers is definitely near the very top of movies I’d hate to see be remade.
The replacement cast here is less than ideal, obviously, but if we’re going to continue the gimmick we have to stay age appropriate and, I’m sorry, there’s no way in hell that Taylor Lautner is going to play Trent. Just not going to happen while I’m alive.
11. The Usual Suspects
Replacement cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Casey Affleck, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, Adrien Brody
Who plays Keyser Soze? That’s the money question. Of the bunch listed, I actually think Law would do the best job as he’s made a career of shape-shifting (like most actors do), but I’d be most intrigued to see Craig step out of his comfort zone.
Gordon Levitt would be a spot-on Dean Keaton, while Affleck would do a great job replacing the torched Hungarian in the hospital who cries out the devil’s name to a nearby sketch artist. Just kidding, I had him pegged as a young Kobayashi. If he doesn’t get the role as Kint/Soze, Craig would do just fine as McManus while Brody is almost too perfect to play his sidekick Fenster (previously Benico Del Toro).
12. Apocalypse Now
Replacement cast: Taylor Kitsch, Hugh Jackman
Not ideal re-casting – Kitsch for Sheen and Jackman for Brando, but for the first war movie on this list, I guess Hollywood could do worse. Of all the films here, I think Apocalypse has the best odds of never being remade though. Which studio would want to touch it after all the production delays on the original?
Yep, that’s right, none of them.
Replacement cast: Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts
Now, this I would go pay to see despite all my frustrations with whichever director thought it’d be a good idea to remake Roman Polanski’s timeless neo-noir classic. McConaughey is far from Jack Nicholson, but with his recent career revival, there’s no telling what moon he’s shooting for (an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year?). Watts fits perfectly into the Faye Dunaway role as the damsel in distress.
14. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Replacement cast: Ewan McGregor, Shia LaBeouf
Westerns have a special place in my heart and that’s why Butch Cassidy narrowly squeaked by the other Redford-Newman flick, The Sting, to make this list. The chemistry between the lead actors is what really anchors down this immortal heavyweight of a film, so replacing them would be the project’s biggest and most continual burden. It shouldn’t come as any surprise by now that I think that McGregor and LaBeouf would fail miserably at this task.
Let the record show that Heath Ledger would have made a great Sundance Kid. Speaking of another role Ledger could have done if a remake were ever tapped…
15. A Clockwork Orange
Replacement cast: Robert Pattinson
Really, A Clockwork Orange stands in for all Stanley Kubrick movies – Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, Paths of Glory, 2001, etc. — because there simply isn’t enough space to list them all here. However, if I am going to single out my favorite its this intense futuristic depiction of England’s youth turned delinquent.
As I mentioned above, Ledger would have made a great Alex DeLarge, but now we have to settle for the possibility of Pattinson. Ugh, just shoot me.
The good news is that Clockwork will never be pushed for a remake or sequel — the film’s release is perhaps still the most controversial in the history of cinema.
16. Almost Famous
Replacement cast: Andrew Garfield, Oscar Isaac, Blake Lively
Isaac plays a musician again, this time as 1970s front man Russell Hammond (previously, the idyllic Billy Crudup). Although less depressing than Inside Llewyn Davis, the role doesn’t exactly alleviate the stereotype of tortured artist. Garfield is tapped in as the young protagonist — probably 10 years too old for the part, but who will really notice? And lastly, Lively tries to become Penny Lane.
Sadly for her and the rest of the ensemble, nobody can recreate the magic of the original coming of age, rock-and-roll infused classic.
Replacement cast: Nicholas Hoult, Johnny Depp, Jamie Foxx
Similar to Goodman in the Big Lebowski, I still think Willem Dafoe could still handle playing the role of Sgt. Elias, but Hollywood would demand someone younger — or not in this case as Depp plays Elias in the remake of the film that jumpstarted his career.
As for getting rid of Charlie Sheen, are we making an upgrade here by going with Beast from X-Men? Nope, not at all.
Also, for those of you playing dumb, Foxx is playing Sgt. Barnes through a re-imagination of the soulless character. What? It can’t be all the same as Oliver Stone’s primary Vietnam film.
18. There Will Be Blood
Replacement cast: Liam Neeson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Allow Blood to be the placeholder for all Daniel Day Lewis films — In the Name of the Father, Gangs of New York, etc. — that don’t appear on this list because of space constraint.
Although Neeson is a very capable actor, he’d fall very short when compared to DDL’s depiction of oilman Daniel Plainview. As for Gordon-Levitt…wait, haven’t we already seen him on this list already?
Crap, let’s not keep recycling the same five names here. The kid from Alpha Dog who plays the Russian dude in Star Trek should fill in here nicely, even though neither him nor Neeson are American. What? It worked for Day Lewis the first time around.
19. American Beauty
Replacement cast: Matt Damon, Natalie Portman
Wait, Hollywood just green lit this project? I just came up with it though a minute ago. Damn, they’re quick.
Well, let’s move on then…
20. Fight Club
Replacement cast: Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham
What you don’t think either of these actors would take the paycheck? You think Hollywood would try to prevent this from becoming an utter train wreck?
Mhm, well that’s some very wishful thinking. It must be living in that snow globe of yours.
And with that, I’m finished.
I want more like this!
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