I’d just gotten off a 13-hour flight before sitting down to write this column. I travel a lot, yet have never gotten over being in a tiny metal tube in the sky. After a while, I start to get a bit claustrophobic. I know lots of you watch new releases on the in-flight entertainment system. I have to watch old films. This time around I watched “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Groundhog Day.”
It got me thinking (yet another way to distract myself until the crappy food comes) about these kinds of movies. There really is something soothing about ’80s films. You could never make them today. (Oh god, Hollywood, please don’t try. Please? I’m begging you, don’t remake “Ferris”!) There is an innocence about them — even ones that are about terrible human beings — that today’s studio system just wouldn’t allow.
Now, I’m not saying they hold up. I’m not sure a teenager would get any pleasure out of “Groundhog Day.” Maybe they’d like “Ferris,” but even that is a bit wide-eyed for today’s youth. Heck, even I don’t think it’s the best movie. If they tried to remake it (again: please, please don’t), they’d try for a “dark” or “edgy” angle, or have it address social issues of some sort. Can you imagine edgy Ferris Bueller?
A light touch might be key. I never thought of Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” as a person. I never thought of Andie McDowell’s character as an actual human being. (She’d make me vomit if she were real. Drink to world peace? Seriously?) I thought of them as magical creatures of the big screen. They were cartoons. You can’t do that now. Everything has to be “real.” You have to relate to everyone on screen. They weren’t aspirational or more charming than real life people.
I don’t think getting away from that is a bad thing. We tell better stories now. I’m just saying that, after reading the news and the complaining on Twitter all day, movies like these are warm, soft blankets that got me through a very long day.