Are You Going to Eat That Cat?
As you may have already read in my previous article, I am not in love with the idea of remakes and retellings of old movies and television shows in general. However, when I get an opportunity to talk about something that has fascinated me for a long time, I’ll take whatever excuse I can get. For those of you who don’t know who Alf is, he’s an alien from the planet Melmac who looks like the inbred offspring of Gonzo and Fozzie Bear from the Muppets. His show aired from 1986 to 1990, ending in a cliffhanger that was resolved in a television movie Project: Alf’ that was panned by critics.
How it goes is a spaceship follows an amateur radio transmission down to Earth and crashes into the garage of the Tanner family. The family that finds him names him Alf, as in Alien Life Form. Like any televised nuclear family from the 80s the father is straight laced and trying to lead a good life, the mother is naggy but always finds a warm side, the older sister is a budding teenager trying to fit in, and the younger brother is just trying to figure life out while maintaining his innocence. Meanwhile, Alf is a three foot tall, sarcastic and mildly selfish, hairy loudmouth. And much like any normal familiar intruder would in a sitcom, the whole family is thrown into disarray after his arrival. Also, he likes to eat cats. It’s a basic concept that’s been seen many times before, but it’s the fact that he’s an alien makes things interesting. As I recall this seems vaguely similar to a movie that came out this summer that raked in a ton of money.
Ted, as you may recall was a movie about a teddy bear who magically comes to life, set up as an ordinary romantic comedy, and makes tons of dirty jokes. The result was a major box office success, and the subsequent scramble to capitalize. Since a one and a half feet tall CGI teddy bear did so well making crude humor, wouldn’t a three feet tall alien who makes crude jokes AND has a cult following do even better? From the producer’s standpoint, this is practically guaranteed profit.
Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing like I’ve made it out to be before. While it may appear to be being made solely for the money, that’s not the only reason. Movies are getting more expensive every year, with some of the biggest films of the summer costing upwards of $200 million. Even Ted, a seemingly small film cost an estimated $50 million. We are in a mini era of remakes, sequels, and huge blockbusters because costs keep increasing and Hollywood wants more assurances that it can get its money back. Risk taking on ideas or stories that don’t already have a strong presence equate to a steeper climb to make people care. That’s why so many things are being made surrounding vampires at the moment. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a movie that is funny, exciting, entertaining, and engaging, but it bombed in theaters because not enough people were interested enough in something relatively obscure. So having the reassurance of a previous movie making a ton of money could just be all the evidence a studio needs to make an excellent film. Of course, we would have to wait for the trailer to come out to be certain. In the mean time could you please pass the cat? I’m in the mood for a snack.