In Theory: If Other Directors Got to Remake Disney Classics

hipsterariel2In Theory is a feature in which I make up theoretical projects and try to develop them. 

Yesterday came with news that is either great or terrible, depending on who you are: Sofia Coppola will direct a live action version of The Little Mermaid.

At this point, the gritty reboots that Hollywood has been putting out in this post-Dark Knight era are starting to wear thin. Just because characters are moody, that does not mean a film is good. We are all looking at you, Snow White and the Huntsman.

The news that Sofia Coppola is at the helm is good news, given that she actually cares about important things like writing and directing. This will be a big test for her, as it will be her first major blockbuster effort as a director. I am hoping that Ariel will be played by Scarlett Johansson. Meanwhile, Eric will be played by an equally talented actor who will whisper something in her ear at the end. The fact that we can’t hear it is the point. So stop trying to figure it out, Internet!

Anyway, this all made me wonder what other directors would do if they were given a classic Disney property, a lot of money, and the maximum amount of creative freedom allowed by Mickey Mouse.

This week, I put myself in the shoes of an executive who can’t afford to screw another project up. Here is my list of hypothetical animated Disney reboots, and the directors who would bring them to life:

Bambi: Werner Herzog

I can hear Werner saying “ze sadness, ze existential sadness” now.

The Lion King: Matt Stone & Trey Parker

Matt Stone and Trey Parker are responsible for the genius The Book of Mormon. Listen to “Hasa Diga Eebowi” again; The Lion King courses through its veins. The duo knows how to write and direct a musical number (also see: the South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut). For two people with such a cynical sense of humor, their love for musicals is incredibly sincere. There is a proposed film adaptation of The Book of Mormon somewhere down the road. I think that is more of a priority for them.

Mulan: Quentin Tarantino

Nobody ever knows what Tarantino will make next. At this point, there is still a possibility that The Hateful Eight will still get made after that whole infamous debacle. Meanwhile, Kill Bill Vol. 3 will forever remain an annoying rumor. It actually seems kind of logical that a Disney remake could get thrown into Tarantino’s mix. Quentin could craft an awesome Mulan: a woman bound by a moral code, a sense of family, and not caring what anyone else said. Mulan is already a history-bending film, and with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained under his belt, Tarantino has become a master of disregarding textbooks. The one condition is that he better keep all of those musical numbers in.

Alice in Wonderland: David Lynch

While there has already been a reboot of Alice in Wonderland, the version that Tim Burton made looked like a dump he took and then filmed in terrible 3D. David Lynch, who is always taking us down weird new rabbit holes, would be a perfect fit for this story. When people talk “gritty reboots,” they usually try and make it look like Lord of the Rings or Batman. For once though, there should be a gritty reboot that looks more like Mulholland Drive. There is a weird world behind every white picket fence. As Blue Velvet showed, Lynch understands that better than most people.

Beauty and the Beast: Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro has had a fascination with monsters and the other worldly throughout his whole career. I would love to see him put a human face on something monstrous. Maybe his version would give me nightmares in the same way that the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth did. By the way, saying that del Toro gave me a nightmare is a high compliment. It means he did his job. Apparently, this project may actually be a reality at some point in the future.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Martin McDonagh

“People going around calling you a midget when you want to be called a dwarf. Of course you’re going to blow your head off.” I am basing this decision solely off all of the midget/dwarf parts in In Bruges. Colin Farrell karate chops a midget in it. Imagine if Snow White did the same thing.

Cinderella: David O. Russell

In a way, American Hustle is a sort of Cinderella story. By saying that, I am not saying that it is anything like A Cinderella Story, but rather they are both tales filled with rags, riches, and fancy clothing. Not to mention, Cinderella has a family of insane sisters. David O. Russell loves his dysfunctional families. It turns out that Cinderella and Mickey Ward actually have a lot in common.

Peter Pan: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson has been making some form of Peter Pan for most of his life as a director. And I know yesterday I said I wouldn’t talk about Wes Anderson again for a while, but here we are.

Pocahontas: James Cameron

Avatar has been called “Pocahontas with blue people” since it first came out five years ago. It only seems natural that James Cameron would get to direct the real thing. Question is: how far over budget will James Cameron go this time?