The concept of remaking a film is an interesting one to think about. Is it respectful to the original’s legacy, or disrespectful? Remakes really vary in quality – some are great, even better than the original source material, and then some are just awful – insulting, and just plain disrespectful to the original.
Some stories are so classic that they have to be updated with time, and reimaginings of them are welcome, but there is a group of movies that remain untouchable. Not necessarily relating to the quality of the films, but more just that certain thing about them that makes them so special and beautifully unique. Maybe it’s the film’s aesthetic, tone, or characters, but whatever the case, these are 15 films that absolutely could never be remade.
The classic 1984 sci-fi comedy features all the zaniness and hilarity promised by its premise: three sold-out scientists decide to start a ghost extermination business – they get famous and have to save the world. While this comedy plot seems like it would be easy enough to update to present-day with modern special effects, you have to step back and think about why Ghostbusters was such a success.
The characters – Doctors Venkman, Spengler and Stantz, brilliantly portrayed by Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, respectively. These three characters (as well as Winston, the fourth and less memorable Ghostbuster), had such perfect comedic chemistry, a blend of personalities and dialog that could never be duplicated. Also, the original Ghostbusters features endearing, classic effects. Now-a-days it would of course all be CGI, and probably look like garbage.
Kevin Smith’s famous first film is a day in the life of two convenience-store clerks named Dante and Randall. These two best friends hang out at their jobs, play hockey on the roof, talk about movies, and generally slack off. Clerks was a hilarious low-budget masterpiece, and was an essential part of the 90’s independent film wave.
Kevin Smith’s dialog is so funny, and rings so true, and the black and white low-budget feel of the film is so original that this story could simply never be told again. Smith even seemed to acknowledge this with his 2006 follow-up, Clerks II, which has a different tone and vibe than the original. Only Kevin Smith can direct a Kevin Smith movie.
13. Annie Hall
Woody Allen has such a distinct and unique cinematic voice. His writing is like no other’s, and his characters are honest and relatable, just like his films. Annie Hall is his magnum opus of his idiosyncrasy and quirk films, and the structure and storytelling of the film is like no other. Annie Hall is a romantic comedy told with such an original voice and directed with such uncommon flair. The characters are honestly depicted and thoroughly realistic, and the deeper themes at work in the film are fascinating.
Though the general structure of Annie Hall has been reduplicated by films such as (500) Days of Summer, the original’s legacy has never been contested. This rom-com would be impossible to replicate because of Allen’s very particular sense of humor and characterization, as well as the interesting storytelling techniques and ingenuity he utilized.
12. Pulp Fiction
Few filmmakers can make non-linear storytelling work as well as Tarantino, and no filmmakers can replicate his style or dialog. There are many imitators, but Pulp Fiction remains QT’s untouched masterwork. Every actor in this film fits his/her character so perfectly, and the dialog written for those characters defines them so genuinely.
Despite the fact that Tarantino is one of the most widely imitated directors, the darkly hilarious and clever tone that Pulp Fiction hit so brilliantly is something that could never be recreated – not even by Tarantino himself.
Borat may be too obvious of a pick, but it’s true, this is one film that could never be remade. Sacha Baron Cohen’s ingenious mockumentary is one of the funniest films ever made, and perfectly captured the zeitgeist of America at the time, at the same time making sly statements about how much xenophobia and racism there is to be found at the heart of America.
Through the un-scripted ingenuity of his comedy, and the real reactions of his victims, Cohen captured something so amazing, hilarious and topical all at once, and as proven by his follow-ups Bruno and The Dictator, not even he can replicate his brilliant satire.
10. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Tim Burton’s first feature film is also one of his funniest, and showcases the director’s imagination and quirky sense of humor as well as any of best films. The obvious reason that Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure could never be remade is that Paul Reubens is not planning on playing the character again anytime soon, and no one could play this character but him.
If anyone else tried to be Pee-Wee, it would just be embarrassing and lame, and not in the intentional sense as captured by Rueben’s performances. Also, Tim Burton was the perfect director for making a film as ridiculous and dumb as this one actually something fun to watch and interesting. The colorful set-pieces are definitely something to behold, and the film’s sense of humor is odd and hilarious.
9. Being John Malkovich
Spike Jonze and Charlie Kauffman burst onto the scene in 1999 with all of their unparalleled creativity with Being John Malkovich. This one-a-kind film is truly one of the best of the 90’s, and features such wacky and wonderful ideas. Watching the film today, it holds up marvelously, and is still just as funny and moving.
No one can write a Charlie Kaufman script but Charlie Kaufman, and no one can direct a movie like Spike Jonze. They work so well together and John Malkovich an artistic and creative triumph in every way. Its bold ideas light up the screen, and almost every scene features an odd and interesting mise-en-scene.