Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Recycled Movie Plots,Take 2

The duo that brought us Juno back in '07 are at it again,with a movie that I swear is the gloomy reincarnation of a Julia Roberts hit flick.

This isn't meant as a slam or an accusation against either writer Diablo Cody or director Jason Reitman but I can't help but notice the similarities between the two projects.Young Adult stars Charlize Theron as Mavis Gray,a moody ghostwriter for a series of teen titles.

During her latest funk,she goes back to her hometown and decides to reclaim her old boyfriend Buddy(Patrick Wilson)as her man,despite the fact that he is happily married to Beth(Elisabeth Reiser)with a new baby.

Mavis' only confidant on this mission is Matt(Patton Oswalt),a former classmate who still suffers from those high school days,who becomes her platonic unlikely voice of reason. This is supposed to be an anti-heroine type of story that pulls no punches,not the most likely candidate to be released around holiday time:

Now,consider the plot of 1997's My Best Friend's Wedding along side Young Adult; here we have Julianne(Roberts),a restaurant critic who learns that her former flame Michael(Dermot Mulroney)is about to get married to a nice girl he truly loves named Kimberly(Cameron Diaz).

Julianne feels that this is all wrong and that Michael belongs with her. She goes to his wedding in order to break the intended couple up and her only confidant in this scheme is George(Rupert Everett),her gay best friend.

Differences in tone and minor plot details aside,I think you can see the connection between these two romantic comedies quite clearly:

This particular style of cinematic remodeling isn't unusual in Hollywood. The most popular route is to rework a classic novel into modern day fare,casting younger versions of time honored characters and updating certain references. The best authors on the block have been subject to this treatment-Dickens,Austen,Hawthorne and of course,good old Shakespeare.

Even not as commonly known old school works have been handled this way,with one of the best examples being Cruel Intentions in 1999. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe did their variations on the decadent upper class characters that were played by Glenn Close and John Malkovich in the direct period adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons nearly ten years prior.

That slick reshaping helped to pave the way for future teen productions about the lives of reckless rich kids such as Gossip Girl and even now,a new twist on that famed French novel by Lalcos is being remade yet again,this time set in China of the 1930s. Interesting to see just how versatile some stories are:

Of course,basing a movie upon another movie is par for the course as well.1998's You've Got Mail takes a lot of it's cues from the 1940 version of The Shop Around the Corner(with the original title cleverly worked into the new story line as the name of the bookstore run by one of the romantic rivals).

You can argue all day long about whether or not Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are in the same league as Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan-if you really want to up the comparison ante,this story was also remade as the 1949 musical In the Good Old Summertime with Judy Garland and Van Johnson) but the basic plot thread is the same.

Two people who work in the same business and can't stand each other wind up becoming anonymous pen pals that fall in love. The main twist is that e-mail takes the place of hand written correspondence and actually allows for much more identity confusion which in some ways is more beneficial to refreshing this old chestnut:

So,if you think about it,Young Adult bearing a striking resemblance to My Best Friend's Wedding is not as strange as it may seem. Hollywood does love to retread familiar ground,as we've seen from the numerous remakes and sequels bombarding the multiplexes lately and who knows,they might get really creative with this trend.

Maybe the next big thing will be to make formerly upbeat movies into their moody doppelganger editions and vice versa. Hey,it could happen-never say never!:

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