Hollywood has long perfected its fulfillment of “so nice they made it twice” movie culture with years upon years of unnecessary reboots. Whether it's a new imagining of an iconic teen show like Gossip Girl or an old–time classic like Psycho, if you’ve heard of it, there’s probably more than one version.
Now, with yet another reimagining of Ghostbusters hitting the studios in November and the Addison Rae–ification of the 1999 cult–favorite She’s All That, reboots are taking center stage on our screens. We’ll only know whether it’s for better or worse after the credits run, but for some of these recent remakes, our minds were made up after the opening scenes.
He’s All That, 2021
TikTok phenom Addison Rae makes her acting debut in the modernized and role reversed retelling of the 90's film She’s All That. In the original and reboot, both written by R. Lee Fleming Jr., a popular high schooler takes on a bet that they can transform a school outcast into a fellow popular kid. Surprisingly (spoiler alert), both protagonists fall in love with the subjects of their bet. The original She’s All That certainly wasn’t winning any Oscars, but the chemistry and charisma of leads Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook redeemed any cheesiness and rooted it in our cultural understanding of iconic teen dramas.
In the 2021 reboot, first–time actress Rae delivers her lines flatly, and the script’s slightly dated and awkward feel doesn’t do her any favors. With sparks as hot as a damp log between Rae and costar Tanner Buchanan, He’s All That was painful to watch but probably a safe pick for a middle school sleepover or a young adult hate–watch.
The Mummy, 2017
The 1932 version of The Mummy sports an 88% “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics agreeing that the horror movie set the tone for future mummy films to come, by relying on creating a tense atmosphere instead of cheap thrills. So when Universal Studios announced a remake starring legendary action actor Tom Cruise, expectations were high for the 2017 remake.
Instead, Universal pumped out an uninspired and confused narrative that thought Cruise’s stunts and star power would be enough to distract viewers from its jumbled story and boring addition to the already long list of action–adventure movies just like it. With a paltry 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, the 2017 remake endures criticism about its reliance on Cruise's presence and its status as a money–maker rather than a film. If you’re looking to watch an action reboot, try Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle instead; neither of these 2017 reboots will blow your mind for their originality, but at least you’ll have fun watching Jumanji.
Poltergeist (1982) is known and loved by horror fans as a sharply frightening paranormal staple, complete with its creepy and innovative use of a television set, but the 2015 remake falls short of its predecessor. While the cast does its best to uplift the movie, it just feels a little flat compared to the movie it pays homage to and perhaps sticks too closely to the confines of the original.
The horror genre does see high–profile remakes of the genre’s pillars, like The Amityville Horror (1979 and 2005), but at some point we need to ask ourselves if it’s necessary in any capacity. The 2015 remake of Poltergeist wasn’t atrocious, but the scares felt all too familiar—something horror fans aren’t really looking forward to when seeing a scary film, especially in theaters. Adding too little of its own charm and twists, the 2015 movie feels like the knockoff version of an already great thing.
The Heartbreak Kid, 2007
Funnyman Ben Stiller’s crowd–pleasing appearances in movies like Night at the Museum and Zoolander wasn’t enough to save his 2007 remake of the 1972 film by the same name. Both are billed as black comedies meant to explore the hypocrisy of love through humor, but Stiller’s reboot feels mean–spirited instead of subversive.
Elaine May, director of 1972’s The Heartbreak Kid, is widely credited for grounding the movie and pushing the envelope of comedy. Film critic Roger Ebert even said, “It’s a comedy, but there’s more in it than that; it’s a movie about the ways we pursue, possess, and consume each other as sad commodities.” In sharp contrast, Stiller’s version comes across as laden with cheap gags—instead of funnily unlikeable characters or questionable behavior serving as social commentary, viewers are just left with no one to root for.
Reviving an old franchise or putting a new spin on a classic doesn’t automatically condemn a movie, but these four reboots miss the mark on so many different levels. Especially with the long list of movies that successfully breathe new life into dated concepts, avoiding these four should be a breeze. But there’s always merit to sitting down with a group of friends and making an event out of watching a bad movie—so who knows, maybe one of these films will make your next movie night as notorious as these remakes were.