Sequels and remakes dominate 2017 cinema
The saying “history repeats itself” has never been more prevalent than in the year 2017. I am not talking about how our current government slightly resembles 1939 (except we have the blessing of checks and balances — thanks, Founding Fathers). This year has been filled with the revival of television shows, sequels, remakes of movies and the comeback of various popular artists. One would think that 2017 was a revival of a culture that harkens back to the glory days of the early 2000s. Let’s begin our journey through 2017 by discussing the reboots in television.
“Fuller House,” a revival of “Full House,” premiered its third season in mid-2017. The original stars (minus Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) reunited to recreate their charming show for a new generation. Using 21st century references, relying strongly on the nostalgia factor of familiar catchphrases (ex. “How Rude!” and “Have Mercy!”) and frequent discussions of John Stamos’ never-aging hair, “Fuller House” tries to stay relevant while maintaining its now aged fan base. I was born in the year that “Full House” ended and grew up with it on DVD (remember those?) and reruns of it on ABC Family and Nick@Nite. “Fuller House” appeals to just that demographic: college students trying to procrastinate on Netflix while striving to recapture their innocence. However, “Fuller House” also appeals to the children of the generation who actually watched “Full House” when it aired, maintaining the show’s family-friendly vibe.
“Will and Grace” jumped on the reboot train after creating a viral hit during the election season urging people to vote. The seven-minute video caught up with the original four characters after ten years and used current popular culture and politics to influence voters. The reboot of “Will and Grace” uses the same tactics that “Fuller House” uses, such as appealing to the audience’s nostalgia by bringing back popular phrases (“Just Jack”) and writing episodes featuring returning guest actors. “Will and Grace” was revolutionary because it was the first show to have gay characters in the leading roles. “Will and Grace” tackles this issue again in the 21st century by featuring an episode where Jack’s estranged grandson is sent to gay-conversion-therapy camp. The leaders of the camp are ironically played by the-out-and-proud actors Andrew Rannells and Jane Lynch. Jack and his grandson share a tender moment where Jack tells his grandson that he should embrace his identity. In another episode, Will is forced to share gay liberation history with his much younger date (played hilariously by Broadway’s Ben Platt), teaching the new generation that will watch this show that gay culture wasn’t always as widely accepted as it is now. “Will and Grace” proudly embraces the 21st century, which enhances, rather than detracts, from the show.
Before we move on to film, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the “That’s So Raven” sequel, “Raven’s Home,” and the “Boy Meets World” sequel, “Girl Meets World,” both of which have done an awesome job of bringing in a new generation of viewers to the shows we college students all loved to watch in our childhoods.
In film these days, it seems that every other movie is a sequel, prequel or trilogy. When are filmmakers going to realize that we need original ideas? Disney has been building off of its success from live-action remakes of popular Disney classics and, in this writer’s opinion, has been doing it all wrong. “Beauty and the Beast” was certainly a spectacle, but it didn’t make me feel for Belle as much as the original version did. Why didn’t Emma Watson’s Belle react at all during “Be Our Guest?” Has Watson, because of her experience as Hermione Granger, become completely immune to reacting to empty space that will eventually be a computer generated object in post-production? Besides “Incredibles II,” which is much needed in 2018 and does not deserve any early criticism, Disney needs to focus on the originality that made it so spectacular during its prime era from 1989-1999, beginning with “The Little Mermaid” and ending with “Tarzan.”
This year has been a year of turmoil for our world. People often harken to their childhoods as a source of comfort. With natural disasters signaling that we may be entering the “End of Days” and the sinking ship that is our current administration, this kind of reminiscence may be the virtual hug that we need. May 2018 be such an influential era that we will attempt to emulate it in 2040.