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A Charlie Bielinski Pop-Ed: 'They Better Not Ever Remake 'The Breakfast Club''

“I am an FBI agent!”

“I know, man, isn’t it wild?”

This exchange from Point Break starts with the oft-mimicked Johnny Utah line from Keanu Reeves and the response comes from Bodhi, the surfing criminal mastermind portrayed by the late Patrick Swayze. A few months ago, I heard that they were going to be remaking this early nineties classic, and it didn’t really register with me at all. Sometimes I hear about remakes (or re-imaginings as they sometimes are called) and the prospect sounds rather unique and I am interested, even if the result isn’t all that exceptional. Often, I, like many others, simply groan or sigh and think to myself about why a remake is necessary or even justified. When I heard about the Point Break remake, my response was the latter, and I hadn’t thought about or considered the subject until this past week when Gerard Butler was confirmed to be in talks to appear as the new Bodhi, this time not just a surfer but an extreme sports enthusiast. This news combined with a classroom conversation with some of my awesome students really inspired me to start considering film remakes, particularly Point Break, and perhaps some of the real reasons that unless the screenwriter is very clever they just won’t work.

So here we go.

The basic plot of this particular film is that Johnny Utah, former superstar college quarterback, has joined the FBI after a knee injury has ended any chances he may have had at becoming a professional athlete. Utah is given the opportunity, partially because of his athleticism, to infiltrate the local surfing scene, as it is suspected that is where the individuals behind a rash of bank robberies have been hiding. Utah quickly becomes part of the crew committing the robberies, although he doesn't know this at the time, when their leader recognizes him as a famous college quarterback who disappeared and didn’t play again.

A pretty simple premise for a film that I think is still fun to watch when I encounter it on a Saturday afternoon flipping through the hundreds of choices on my television. However, I can’t see the remake of this film working if they stick with the plot as it is from the original, which is apparently the current plan. For example, in the Internet age would it really be possible for Johnny Utah to just disappear after his playing days are over? With so many different websites and news sources competing for stories, how could it be that someone somewhere wouldn’t write the Johnny Utah story? The story of the starting QB of the Ohio State Buckeyes getting injured and never playing football again would at least be big news in Columbus, Ohio and make the papers there and then be published and readable, like everything else, online. Swayze’s Bodhi meets Johnny Utah and gets excited thinking about watching him on television in the Rose Bowl and then wondering what ever happened to the college star. Reeves as Utah explains that after his injury he missed his opportunity and became a lawyer. The introductions are over and Utah is accepted into the group.

Now let’s stick this same scene into 2014. Utah and the surfers — extreme sports enthusiasts now and actually not just surfers — are playing football on the beach and the exchange occurs. How are we supposed to believe that someone in the group doesn’t go home and search for a story on Johnny Utah while they're watching YouTube or checking the local surf report? Being that I am not a clever screenwriter, it doesn’t seem to me that there is a viable explanation for this possibility.

Only a few of my students had actually seen Point Break, which was somewhat disappointing news to me. However, as this conversation with the few Point Break fans in my room wrapped up someone in the back uttered the following statement very emphatically.

“They better not ever remake The Breakfast Club.”

Let that statement sink in because it is coming from the demographic that would be targeted with such a remake.

Those eight words sparked off a very logical exchange in which nearly all of the students in my journalism class participated while working on their presentations due the next week.

The consensus opinion among my students was that a remake of this film set in 2014 would be nearly impossible for a number of reasons. We began to logically look at all the characters and the situations from the film and break down the issues that any filmmaker would have. First, Saturday detention just doesn’t exist anymore, which, of course, is the only reason that those characters are together in the first place. If students are at school on a Saturday in a classroom it is for extra academic work, and they most certainly are not left alone for such an extended period of time during the day which would eliminate all the wonderful conversations that take place in the film and certainly mean that there would be no opportunity for Bender to roll any joints.

Andy, the wrestler who is in detention for physical assault (and, yes, that is what it would be called when you tape the butt cheeks of an individual together and the removal of said tape causes bleeding), would not have the opportunity to go to any kind of detention because he would be suspended. Brian, the brain, would likely be expelled, or at the very least be suspended for the entire year, when the flare gun goes off in his locker.

The arguments described in this column against both of these remakes, one a real film on the way to a theater near you at some point and the other just an example, are not even the typical reactions of fans when a sacred property is mentioned. I described earlier two reactions I typically have when presented with the idea of a remake. One was to be interested in the idea and the other was to sigh and groan. After speaking with my students I now have a third reaction and that is to analyze the situation.

The Point Break remake is apparently on the way despite what seems like overwhelming negative Internet buzz and the logic my students and I presented to you. I think we analyzed that one pretty well. In the Internet age it just isn’t going to work.

There is no mention anywhere of a Breakfast Club film in development, which is good. Even though we’ve sort of analyzed it that announcement doesn’t need any more analysis. I, along with my students, will simply sigh and groan.
A Charlie Bielinski Pop-Ed: 'They Better Not Ever Remake 'The Breakfast Club'' Reviewed by Charlie Bielinski on 1/13/2014 Rating: 5

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