The good, the bad and the ugly of children’s film remakes

Kinderling News & Features

As a child, Mary Poppins was a fave film for me and my siblings, closely followed by The Sound of Music and a little later, The Princess Diaries. You may have already picked a common thread here - it just so happens the main character in all of these films is played by Julie Andrews.

There’s something so captivating about Julie for kids and adults alike. There’s a twinkle in her eye, a melody in her voice and a grace in her movements on screen. She’s addictive, and I cannot imagine any of the films she stars in without her.

And yet, later in 2018 there’s a new Mary Poppins entering the movie scene, and I’m not sure I’m okay with it. To that end, I thought it was high time look back into history to see the triumphs and the failures of Hollywood’s insistence to remake the classics.

Mary Poppins (1964 vs. 2018)

Starting with the impending remake on our hands. The Mary Poppins remake/sequel, slated for release late this year. Emily Blunt is wonderful, and I love her, BUT. See above. There ain’t no one like Julie.

To be fair, Julie herself told Entertainment Tonight that she’s actually okay with the whole thing. "Emily Blunt is going to play Mary Poppins and I am a great fan," she said. "I think she is terrific and a perfect pick."

Okay, Julie. I’ll try to hold my judgement until I see the film. Thank goodness they’re not replacing Bert though – NO ONE could pull off Dick Van Dyck’s iconic character.

The Parent Trap (1961 vs. 1998)

A CLASSIC. And this time I’m not talking about the original. Lindsay Lohan does an impeccable job of playing two characters, and Denis Quaid and Natasha Richardson as the will they/won’t they parenting duo is adorable. The 1961 version is still great, and the storyline remains very similar across the two.

Cheaper by the Dozen (1950 vs. 2003)

Here, the remake featuring Steve Martin is barely recognisable to the original. However, the 53 years between the films necessitates such change – in the first, the father’s word is law, and no one questions it. The new one quite rightly adjusts the family dynamic to a more modern formation – slightly more chaotic in the busy-ness of life with two working parents. Plus they made a sequel, so that speaks volumes!

Willy Wonka / Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1971 vs. 2005)

Not only does the remake change the name, but Johnny Depp has some big Gene Wilder sized shoes to fill in Tim Burton’s version of a Roald Dahl classic. And sure, the recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was visually great, more related to the book and quite a hit, but Johnny’s creepy-as take on Willy Wonka has shattered my childhood’s memories of the story.

The Karate Kid (1984 vs. 2010)

Ralph Macchio became an inspiration for an entire generation. And while the 20th Century’s take with Jackie Chan was not a total bomb (despite being centred around Smith Kung Fu, not Karate), I don’t think many people truly asked for this to be redone.

Annie (1982 vs. 2014)

This is quite a divisive one online, and I’m having difficulty deciding which one I like best too. 2014 Annie has some great features (diverse cast, arguably better music, no weird ‘Daddy Warbucks’ nickname), but a classic is a classic, and I just can’t go past it!

Freaky Friday (1976 vs. 2003)

This newbie I’m actually a fan of, coincidentally also featuring Lindsay Lohan. The original 1976 movie stars a young Jodie Foster and was based on the book of the same name by Mary Rodgers. The 2003 remake also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, one of those few remakes I’ve watched over and over.