'James and the Giant Peach' Does Not Need a Reboot
James and the Giant Peach is the Disney movie no one talks about (most people probably don't even know it's a Disney movie) so it's a bit baffling that Disney was considering a remake.
It's not a bad story. It's just a pretty standard story. It is pretty much formulaic children's fantasy fiction: a child becomes an orphan, is given to horrible relatives, and must find some magical way to escape.
I just described about every children's story ever written.
And yet, James and the Giant Peach is still a lovely story most people (myself included) enjoy.
Stories like this follow a forumla because they are basically the kid's version of the Hero's Journey aka the Monomyth.
The Hero always goes on a journey of some kind of self-improvement and self-discovery where they conquer the bad guy and save the damsel in distress.
The journey usually requires that the Hero's mentor should die, allowing them to step out on their own and prove their worth. In this case, the child's mentor is their parent. So the parents always have to die or otherwise be removed, leaving the child to prove their bravery by standing on their own.
When James' parents are removed, he is given replacement parents in the form of bugs. Bugs are probably the perfect replacement in this scenario: they are just bugs. They are competent enough to be good parents but not powerful enough to protect James, which allows him to maintain an active role in the adventure.
Unlike Coraline, James actually comes up with decent ideas and performs daring feats that move the plot along. This is the way a protagonist is supposed to behave, but I guess Selick and crew forgot that when making Coraline.
Hilariously enough, James and the Giant Peach the book was banned. Now people love the story so much, there are stage plays, musicals, and a twenty-year-old movie that might be in for a remake.
According to the stories, Roald Dahl was a horrible man who filled his books with blatant racism and sexism. But, ironically, his book was banned because of references to drugs and alcohol.
To hell with brown people and women. Just say no to drugs, kids!
But do we need to remake everything? Seriously? Is the creative well running so dry that we have to dig up these old films and slap new CGI on them?
When I took Film in college, my thesis was that it's impossible to remake a classic film. A classic film is a classic because it has the right film crew, the right director, the right actors, the right scenery and special effects that make it pull together into this one beautiful thing. And because this one beautiful thing relies on so many factors clicking into place to make it perfect, it is impossible to replicate.
So in order to remake James and the Giant Peach, we would need a director, crew, special effects, voice actors and actresses, scenery . . . We would need all of that to be equal or better than what was done before.
It can't be replicated. It just can't.
You can not replace the likes of Richard Dreyfuss, who voiced Centipede. Or Susan Sarandon, who voiced Miss Spider.
Or Joanna Lumley of Absolutely Fabulous fame, who played the role of James' horrible Aunt Spiker. Or Miriam Margolyes (Romeo and Juliet) who played Aunt Sponge.
And good luck replacing the magical voice and acting of Pete Postlethwaite (another Romeo and Juliet star), who played the Old Man/ Magic Man and also narrated the film.
And aside from the actors and actresses, there's also the director, Henry Selick, and the film crew. You can look but you won't find replacements.
You simply won't find people who can make this film just as heartwarming and entertaining as it was before. Because to do that requires the exact factors that made the film good in the first place.
This is exactly why The BFG -- another Roald Dahl remake -- flopped two years ago.
Why keep making the same damn film over and over??? I think even Roald Dahl would be against this repetitive nonsense and would probably point people to one of his other books that sorely need attention.
Or maybe he'd just cackle and roll in all the piles of money.
What do I know anyway? I got a D for that paper.
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