Remake Hell: The Thin Man


Johnny Depp, with his deft-looking hats and rugged face-terrain, make for hipster paradise. If I wanted to curl back the cover of “Pride and Prejudice” at a coffee shop, while dunking my biscotti in a frothy cappuccino, Depp would be that middle-aged dude, wearing horn-rimmed glasses, that would offer me insights into the thoughts of Jane Austen’s literary mega-work. The guy is subdued, intellectual in that grim-way that seems cool, and dirty enough to look moderately wealthy.

I hate this persona.

Depp hasn’t made a good picture since “Fear and Loathing”, to be quite honest, and anything else that gets juiced from the fruit of his labors isn’t nearly as refreshing. This episodic thing with Tim Burton has been laughed about, incessantly, by journalists and fan-boys alike. Yeah, the cow-eyed, heavy make-up look that Burton’s team always gussies him up in has completely enveloped the actor. Every time I see him on screen now he looks more like a claymation figure than a human. Even when he is in movies such as “Public Enemies”, he seems vacuous, as if his best performance was left in Ed Wood’s worst.

I hear that Depp is interested in remaking “The Thin Man”, the sprite little comedy from the 1930s with Myrna Loy and William Powell. The film is about a regal duo – wife and husband – who sling one-liners and daffy-zingers around, indiscriminately, while they attempt to solve a murder mystery. The film is nondescript but funny; interesting while remaining effervescent. Does it need a dusting? Not necessarily, but neither do a lot of other films that seem to be unearthing themselves around Hollywood. The last person I want to see reprise the role of Nick Charles is Johnny Depp. I can envision the actor shimmying into these dapper clothes, all while making cloyingly winsome remarks in a weird, grossly unenthusiastic voice. No doubt they will cast Helena Bonham Carter’s hair to play Nora.

Scarier than everything I mentioned is the fact that Depp wants Rob Marshall, the director of “Nine”, to captain this ill-fated ship into an icecap called “irreversible failure”. Marshall couldn’t direct a dog to eat, let alone conduct a symphony of humorous escapades that would be required in such a remake. No, I don’t even think a movie like “The Thin Man” would be marketable today, unless, to be quite honest, the studio shoehorns the movie into a post-apocalyptic future or makes the murderer in the film a giant robot.

I could go on bashing remakes, but I’m more into the field of eliminating the terror of watching Johnny Depp look sullenly whimsical for two-hours. Look, I liked Depp in a few of his movies, don’t get me wrong, but at this point, if not for any other reason, I’m trying to save the once thespian and now cartoon character from killing a character that was perfectly fit for William Powell. Some of you may not even care about the original, while others, like myself, are content to say the film is pure popcorn fodder and does not need a prickly update. Depp is busy bastardizing literary creations, however; especially with “Alice in Wonderland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” under his wilted belt.

Please, let’s let William Powell and Myrna Loy rest in peace without having Depp and Marshall do the Charleston all over their graves. If this movie happens – and it probably will – I’ll be the first to ram my head into a wall of acoustic guitars. Horrible happenings, indeed.

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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