REASONABLE REMAKES: Mr. Mom

mr-mom-original

Under The Gun is continuing our efforts to bring you more original and engaging content with REASONABLE REMAKES. Written by film-nerd Justin Proper, this column aims to highlight Hollywood’s forgotten gems and spark debate.

You see, we’ve grown tired of Hollywood rehashing ideas we’re old enough to remember. Why remake something the majority of the planet still remembers and loves deeply when there are tons of films that deserve a chance to be as great as modern technology and skill can make them? If you agree, this column is for you.

In 1983 there was a bit of a recession going on in the country. People went to work every day in fear of losing their jobs. This economic turmoil boosted movie ticket sales, as people wanted to find a way to escape from their lives for a couple hours. It was a good year for movies, Risky Business, Scarface, Return of the Jedi, and National Lampoon’s Vacation all came out in 83. None of these movies really dealt with what families were going through at the time though. One movie had the balls to show what was really going on in the country, and more specifically in Michigan. This movie dared to show a real family dealing with the breadwinner losing their job and then their mind. This movie is due for a remake. This movie is Mr. Mom.

Mr. Mom is a movie written in 1983 by the great John Hughes. The plot follows a Michigan family in the time after the dad is laid off from the auto plant and the mom goes to work as an executive for an add agency. It’s a light, witty, family comedy starring Michael Keaton that plays out like a long form sitcom. The dad starts doing all the mom stuff, with a lot of zany failure at the start. As the movie progresses he takes on the mother’s cliche role (watching soap operas and hanging out with the girls) while the mother starts taking on the father’s role (late nights at the office, business meetings). Everything goes good then bad then good then bad to end up having a happy ending. Nothing surprising about the plot, and no real groundbreaking performances, but it had a solid cast and my mom seems to love it.

So why should it be remade? As a resident of The Mitten (Michigan for you people out of state, our state looks like a mitten, really) I’m no stranger to hearing about people getting laid off, especially from their job at a car factory. Unfortunately, it never plays out like Mr. Mom. In real life there’s no convenient job for the mom to fall in to. There’s no great severance package or savings account to fall back on. This state is doing bad, and has been for many years. The Mr. Mom remake should reflect this. Let’s lose the happy family comedy and turn this in to a straight up drama. You know what would have really happened? Alcoholism, foreclosure, and poverty. How about a real life drama that reflects this? I don’t want to see some happy go lucky situation where everything works out in the end, that’s not how it works. A real happy ending in Michigan is you don’t end up losing your kids and killing yourself.

The director of such a serious film would have to tackle the subject matter in the right way. It needs the perfect blend of drama and melancholy without being heartbreakingly depressing. I think the perfect choice for this is the Coen Brothers. They know their way around bleak plots and have a perfect way with capturing the mood of a region. Don’t believe me? Watch Fargo again and come back to the article. The way they portrayed the frozen tundra that is the Dakotas was dead on and their handling of a family in crisis was perfect. I can’t think of any other director(s) that has this skill as perfected as the Coens.

The casting for this movie is just as important as the director. You need the right actors in the right roles to make it believable. The original Mr. Mom starred Batman, so naturally the remake should star The Hulk. No, not Lou Ferrigno, I mean Edward Norton. If anyone can play a great late 30’s man going through a breakdown it’s definitely him. We’ve seen him go through a perfect character change in FIght Club and I think he’d be perfect for the starring role in Mr. Mom. As for the wife we need someone who can be broken and depressed, possibly an alcoholic, who’s losing a grip on her family. I think this would be a great opportunity for Jennifer Connelly. She was fantastic in Requiem for a Dream as a girl who ends up going in to sex slavery to fuel her drug addiction, and it’s that kind of character that would be perfect for an alcoholic mother who’s slowly slipping in to a depression. It’s a more grown up version of a drug addict, one that can’t keep her family together.

This dark, bleak remake of a comedy is almost the exact opposite of what Danny DeVito did in remaking Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. That movie became Throw Mama From The Train and was wildly successful, so why can’t we take a comedy and make it a drama? Let me know what you think in the comment section, and be sure to follow me on Twitter (@uwebollarama). This article was a suggestion from a reader, so feel free to send me ideas for movies you think should be remade, if I like it, your idea could be next week’s article. I feel like I didn’t make fun of enough pop culture this week so I just want to say that Immortals is going to suck, and I don’t have to see In Time to know that I’d want that 2 hours of my life back.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • enigmaDAEDAL

    When I read Mr. Mom, my initial thought was a dark comedy. One that cover all the bases you mentioned, but would still have just enough of humor so you don’t break down and kill yourself when you watch it.

    But your handling of it would work splendidly. The Coen’s, Norton, and Connelly would all be perfect to take on such a serious and dramatic film, and quite frankly, we haven’t had enough down to earth  dramas lately. Too many super hero movies and high concept films.

  • Thanks! Can’t say I disagree! 

  • Edward Norton would be terrific I think. But the first person that came to mind for me was David Duchovny. He’s amazing in Californication and that’s as dark a comedy you can get.