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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Out with the old, in with the new; reboots have got to go

Rachel Choi
Illustration Rachel Choi

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice.

Growing up, I was consistently watching films that were considered timeless classics, whether that be Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” tackling the stereotype against blondes being mindless airheads or Viola Hastings in “She’s The Man” cross-dressing as a boy to help out her flaky brother and show her unmatched soccer skills against the boys. These 2000s classics were the building blocks of my childhood; my first introduction to an alternate life of navigating high school, applying to colleges, entering adulthood, and maintaining a balance between work and social life. 

You can imagine my hesitation when Hollywood started remaking 2000s classics. Remaking movies and producing new iterations of popular franchises is a risky endeavor, considering the power critical fans who disagree with the artistic direction can have over the general public’s opinion. Directors and screenwriters have to be conscientious in approaching these projects to ensure their decisions will evoke a positive response from the existing fanbase. 

However, after seeing the 2024 reboot of “Mean Girls,” to name one example, it is abundantly clear that Hollywood’s intentions are strictly profit-oriented. The directors pursued a creative direction that compromised not only the personalities of the characters but the complete premise of the film, now existing amongst a plethora of mediocre or subpar remakes. 

When comparing the remakes to the originals, we seem to always reach the same conclusion: Hollywood should simply stop remaking movies. 

In the 2004 “Mean Girls,” Cady Heron, our protagonist, moves to the suburbs of Illinois from Kenya. She is immediately invited to join the A-List group, famously known as The Plastics. As viewers, we follow Cady as she navigates her high school journey and this immediate boost to popularity. 

The Plastics, consisting of Gretchen Wieners, Karen Smith, and queen bee Regina George are considered teen royalty. Regina George lives to maintain her position as the alpha with her unmatched intelligence, manipulation, and cruelty. Regina’s ability to get whatever she wants and hold the respect of the entire student body is what makes her character iconic. 

In the remake, the directors saw fit to recharacterize the personalities into more well-rounded, less cruel people. Characters in the new film may have been portrayed as more human, but they became less of the original characters we know and love. This Regina may be a Regina, but she is not the Regina George from the original “Mean Girls.” 

The new movie took itself too seriously,” wrote columnist Hannah Mwangi from the Seattle Spectator.It removed the slang and slur and the ruthlessness of the teenaged girl…The ‘Mean Girls,’ weren’t mean enough.” 

Instead of getting revenge on a girl flirting with Gretchen’s boyfriend, Regina simply shoots her a nasty glance. Rather than callously lying to her ex-boyfriend that Cady was psychotically obsessed with him, Regina just kisses Aaron and they start dating again. Regina merely leaves the iconic Burn Book to be found in the hallway instead of photocopying hundreds of pages worth of heinous commentary on her classmates. 

Is it truly a remake if one of the main character’s personalities is so compromised that it is barely recognizable? 

Addison Rae’s 2021 remake of the 1999 film “She’s All That”, titled “He’s All That” follows the same storyline as the original, only gender-swapping the lead roles. In the original film, Zach Siler starts a bet with his friend that he could make any girl at school prom queen. His friend assigns him to makeover the lamest girl at school, Laney Boggs, and the viewers follow along as Zach attempts to pursue her. 

The issue? The message of “He’s All That doesn’t align with the original. 

The premise of the 1999 edition is to illustrate how two people from completely contrasting social circles and interests can still develop romantic relationships despite and beyond their differences. Through wholesome moments, like Zach doing an impromptu performance at Laney’s art show or walking along the beach together, viewers can see and feel the emotional connection between the characters. 

The catfights, confessions, and dance-offs in “He’s All That” lack the sting of real romantic conflict, and there’s nary a spark between [Addison] Rae and [Tanner] Buchanan,” said New York Times writer Devika Girish.

Not only did the lead actors lack the emotional complexity to translate to the audience a romantic connection, but the larger-than-life romantic moments (going to parties, singing karaoke, and last minute riding a horse to the prom) further detached the viewers from the couple. The creative decision to include these “romantic” scenes lacks the effort to invest in the hobbies or interests of the other person, rather than opting for unnecessary grand gestures.

What’s the point of remaking a movie if its entire message is compromised?? 

The point seems to be the $11.7 million made during the opening weekend of the new “Mean Girls.” Movies are extremely expensive to make, so filmmakers resort to remaking movies with guaranteed views. Profit outweighs the importance of keeping the craft alive. 

Overall, with how little effort directors dedicate to making quality remakes, what’s the point? Across multiple platforms, including Reddit, people complain on threads such as “Is Hollywood Running Out of Ideas” or “I’m really so tired of reboots and remakes” about how overdone the reboot trend is becoming. 

Dr. Matthew Jones, Film Studies lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester said in a Cosmopolitan interview, “They need to be sure they can secure a profit during turbulent economic times, so they are hedging their bets by banking on familiar stories and franchises.” 

Directors are approaching the once-creative movie industry solely with financial logic. Instead of creating new concepts and storylines with unforeseen characters, they are resorting to pre-existing franchises with a widespread fanbase. 

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