Hollywood is remaking the 1984 comedy “Splash.” Talk about a dog bites man story.
The industry loves remakes, reboots and sequels. Anything that worked once before could work again, so the bean counters hope.
Only there’s one big twist to this remake.
The Daryl Hannah character, a mermaid named Madison who falls for a human (Tom Hanks), will be played by Channing Tatum.
Yes, the female mermaid character will now be a “Merman.” Tatum, the star behind the “Magic Mike” franchise, is now the fish out of water. Jillian Bell, a relative unknown who made a comedic splash in “22 Jump Street,” will be the human who falls for the sea creature.
Another gender switcheroo. Where have we seen this before?
What about when Ronda Rousey was announced as the lead in the “Road House” reboot, taking Patrick Swayze’s place?
Or, more recently, a little film about fighting paranormal apparitions which flipped the gender on the four leads.
How did that turn out?
“Ghostbusters” proved a box office disappointment. That came after the creative team behind the film went to war with its potential audience, dubbing them “sexists” and “haters” for being dubious about the reboot.
It’s doubtful a new “Splash” will be that culturally charged. We hope.
What’s interesting, though, is why the film needed a gender reboot. It’s certainly not necessary. The comedy, directed by Ron Howard, offers enough material for a new film to entertain a new generation.
Perhaps the concept itself would feel sexist. The beautiful mermaid gets ogled quite a bit in the original. Hannah was a stunning mermaid, and any film retelling the story would likely feature a similarly attractive actress.
Now, the male lead is the eye candy.
Would a female mermaid lead to cries of objectification? The reboot writer might have a tall task in front of him/her in that case. So making the sea creature male takes all that away.
Remember how easy it was to make the main male character, Chris Hemsworth, dumb eye candy?
Would a new “Splash” get attacked for a man rescuing the female mermaid? Yes, the original finds Hanks’ character following Madison into her watery world.
(32-year-old Spoiler Alert!)
He still is her protector at times, as a creepy subset of scientists hope to poke and prod Madison. For research, of course.
Tatum won’t have that problem.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a creative spin on old material. What’s depressing here is why these changes happen. More and more artists would rather do this than face social justice warriors and their Twitter armies. It’s hard to blame them.
Either way, the chorus of online “nooooos!” which greeted the project’s announcement suggest audiences aren’t clapping their hands over the news. They’re rolling their eyes. Again.