August 5, 2016

CONFIRMED: HOLLYWOOD STILL OFFICIALLY BANKRUPT OF NEW IDEAS. Rebel Wilson to Star in Gender-Flipped ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ Remake.

Coming hot on the high heels of the Lady Ghostbusters box office misfire and the upcoming remake of Splash with Channing Tatum in the Daryl Hannah role. One of the themes of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind’s 1998 history, and its accompanying documentary of the young Turks who bested (for a time) the Hollywood studio system is that in the 1960s, was that Hollywood’s old guard, utterly obsessed with producing another hit the size of 1965’s The Sound of Music, pumped out inferior musical after inferior musical.

As Wikipedia notes, Hollywood “produced a series of musical flops in the late 1960s and early 1970s which appeared to seriously misjudge public taste. The commercially and/or critically unsuccessful films included Camelot, Finian’s Rainbow, Hello Dolly!, Sweet Charity, Doctor Dolittle, Star!, Darling Lili, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Paint Your Wagon, Song of Norway, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Man of La Mancha, Lost Horizon and Mame. Collectively and individually these failures crippled several of the major studios.” Did American audiences’ tastes change in post-JFK ‘60s (see also: massively growing popularity of rock music during that period), or were they turned off by obviously inferior product? It’s likely it was a combination of both, but there’s a reason why MGM, which dominated the genre in the 1950s, imploded by the end of the following decade, and it became much rarer for movie characters in general to suddenly burst into song with invisible orchestras accompanying them.

This time around, it’s a different sort of prewar industry nostalgia — an obsession with political correctness, a byproduct of Germany’s 1920s Weimar-era Frankfurt School — rather than swinging big bands and Fred Astaire-style dancing that’s driving this Hollywood trend. But will all of the gender-flipping, endless cast-in-the-mold superhero movies, and the rest of Hollywood’s increasingly limited genre options produce a similar sea change in the industry as with that of the late ‘60s? for the sake of the audience (remember them?) it could certainly use it.