In case you missed the news yesterday, Variety confirmed rumors that Columbia Pictures has decided to do a remake of the "Karate Kid," one of the cheesy sports movie classics of my youth. The role of the skinny and bullied young kid who learns to stick up for himself (and hook up with Elizabeth Shue in the process) will be played by Will Smith's son, Jaden, whose previously acting experience is limited to holding his own against his dad in "The Pursuit of Happyness."
This is sort of like shouting into a gale-force wind at this point, but the unwillingness to take a chance on new ideas in Hollywood has become downright embarassing. And we probably need to brace ourselves for the inevitable disasterous "Caddyshack" remake, because it can't be far behind.
It's sort of pathetic how reliant on nostalgia our collective culture has become, especially when it comes to sports and entertainment. ABC executives were so excited when the Lakers and Celtics made it to the NBA Finals last year, specifically because they wanted to market it like it was the next generation of Magic vs. Larry. This strategy relied on us overlooking the fact that while Larry Bird had been a Celtic for life, Kevin Garnett had been one for all of three months. Also, while Magic Johnson was charismatic and charming, Kobe Bryant remains about as loveable as a chest cold to much of America.
It seems like we've become afraid of embracing new ideas simply because it's easier to try to recapture the memories and warm feelings of yesterday. Instead of rebooting "Hoosiers" with a female head coach (Karate Kid alum Hillary Swank?), "Slap Shot" with George Clooney or "Caddyshack" with Seth Rogan and Jason Segal, why not strive to find something my kids can call their own and quote verbatim as they stumble into adulthood?
Also, isn't it time to re-evaluate this popular theory that the 1980s were such a wonderful decade and every succesful idea from that era should be relived? I remember the late 80s. I used to mow lawns, listen to Appetite for Destruction on a continuous loop, and fantasize about dating Candace Cameron when I watched "Full House." It wasn't as cool as it's often portrayed in retrospect.
Nostalgia plays much better when when it's recast with an element of snark. This No More Kings video "Sweep the Leg," which imagines that Johnny Lawrence never really got over the loss to Daniel LaRusso in the All-Valley Under-18 Karate Championships. is a perfect example. The fact that William Zabka (who played Johnny) directed it and stars in it is perfection. (Even Ralph Macchio makes an appearance.) It's one of those things that reminds you why you love the Internet. (You're alright LaRusso!)
Somewhere, in some Hollywood office slush pile, there is a funny, cool sports screenplay about inner city lacrosse or mixed martial arts or even college basketball (which has never really gotten the humor treatment) that deserves a shot. Find it and make it, Hollywood. I beg you.
And put this tired "Karate Kid" remake, as the Cobra Kai goons might say, in a body bag. (Yeah!)
Photos: Getty Images; handout photo