Welcome to Day 5 of this already-exhausting run of 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days that both celebrates and denigrates some of history’s greatest sports (and sports-related) movies. Today, we’re taking a look at one of my all-time favorite films in general, the 1985 Richard Pryor comedy classic, Brewster’s Millions.
Except, unlike Over the Top, we’re not going to recap and cherish the finer points, and unlike Ladybugs, we’re not going to dissect how it acted as a sledgehammer to society’s concrete foundation. Instead, I want to help rewrite this film for Warner Bros.
Why on Earth Would I Want to Remake One of My Favorite Films?
Short Answer: Because it’s going to be done eventually, so I would like to see it done right.
Long Answer: The story of Brewster’s Millions – a poor, young man who inherits a ton of money from an unknown relative on the condition that he must blow it all in 30 days in order to win a much bigger inheritance – has been told and re-told by Hollywood and Bollywood nine times since Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel directed an adaptation (1914) of the stage version (1906) of George Barr McCutcheon’s novel (1902). (In fact, one of those remakes, Three on a Spree, was released in 1961 and was the product of Ladybugs director Sidney J. Furie.)
As of 2009, Warner Bros. was looking to bring Montgomery Brewster back to the big screen with Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan (both co-wrote 2011’s 30 Minutes or Less) hired as writers. While that apparently fizzled out, it’s only a matter of time before it happens, because no studio can just sit on a classic property that long without wanting to do something (make money) with it.
Do I Really Want to See it Remade?
Of course not. We’re talking about a film that starred two of comedy’s greatest and most-sorely-missed icons in their prime, with Richard Pryor as Monty Brewster and John Candy as Spike Nolan. Not a comedic actor alive could replicate or duplicate those performances, no matter how much they actually lacked in terms of acting. If we gave a crap about this movie for the actual thespian qualities, it would have cleaned house at the Oscars.
Instead, we love and revere this film for its charm, and the goofy way that Pryor tried to sell his character’s excitement and disbelief over having just been handed more money than most men will ever see in a lifetime.
Okay, So Who Would You Cast?
While I have absolutely nothing to base this on other than basic observations of the way Hollywood studios behave, I’ve always joked that Warner Bros. had Nick Cannon in mind for that 2009 remake, because it was right after he suddenly married Mariah Carey, and it just seemed like something that would happen. Now, though, I’m terrified that it will become a Jaden Smith or Justin Bieber project, entitled something like, From Rags to Swags, and… holy sh*t, I need to stop this right now before this happens.
If I were in charge of the remake, though, I’d probably cast somebody unknown or with a legitimate comedy background, and I would, at all costs, avoid the mistake of trying to clone the chemistry of Pryor and Candy with stupid logic like, “Let’s get a funny black guy and a fat white guy.” That’s how you end up with Kevin Hart, Josh Gad and an hour and a half of awkward Def Comedy Jam observational humor. (Not that those guys would be terrible, mind you.)
Instead, why not cast two guys like Eric André and Hannibal Burress to play Monty and Spike, respectively, as they already play well with each other and have solid writing and acting backgrounds. Again, just spit-balling, but sometimes the no-name guys will give you a much better product than the stars. And they’re cheaper.
Do You Think the Story Holds Up, Though?
Are you kidding me with that stupid question?
This Inner Monologue was Your Idea that You Stole From Danger Guerrero Anyway
Sorry, I’m just emotional about movies that I love and how their legacies are preserved. But as for the story, yes, I think it’s more relatable now than it has ever been. Let’s break down the roles and how we could make them relevant to 2013:
Monty Brewster: In 1985, he’s a broken down minor league pitcher who has never been the same since surgery. In 2013, he’s an Internet writer or an aspiring stand-up comic with a worthless degree and five figures of student loan debt.
Spike Nolan: In 1985, he was Monty’s trouble-making best friend and battery mate. In 2013, he’s his unemployed roommate with a shameless addiction to Internet porn.
Rupert Horn: In 1985, he was Monty’s great-uncle with a $300 million fortune and no one to leave it to. In 2013, he’s still Monty’s great-uncle, but he has a $300 billion fortune with no one to leave it to. And for fun, we’ll say he made it all off Internet porn. It can be a theme.
George Granville: In 1985, he’s the a-hole lawyer who assigns a junior lawyer to stop Monty from spending the entire $30 million so his firm will receive the $300 million when he fails. In 2013, he’s a hedge fund manager or a lawyer or a politician or pretty much any high-profile job in America today.
Warren Cox – In 1985, he’s the sniveling, preppy junior lawyer who sets out to sabotage Monty’s efforts. In 2013, he’s… well, lawyers haven’t changed, so he’s the same exact thing.
Angela Drake – In 1985, she was the sassy-and-confident-but-reluctantly-submissive corporate female looking to hang out at the sausage party without having to play a game of grab-ass to get ahead. In 2013, she’s Kate Upton.
From there, you can go ahead and fill in the rest of the roles, like J.B. Donaldo and Marilyn, with any number of up-and-coming comics.
The point is that in this economy, with the 99% pining for the downfall of the 1%, there’s not a classic story that would be more relatable. And think of all of the ridiculous sh*t in 2013 that a guy could waste his money on. It would put a motorized iceberg to shame.
But You Know That’s Not the Only Plot, Right?
Of course. As we see in the ’85 classic, Monty could only spend so much money on charities and employees for his nonsensical needs, so he needed to do something incredibly reckless and costly in order to really blow the bulk of his $30 million, and he announced his candidacy for mayor under the “None of the Above” platform.
Let’s say that 2013’s Monty Brewster has to spend $300 million to earn the $300 billion, or something like that – so we have him run for president. Pick your comedy targets – cable news, greedy politicians, scumbag lobbyists, protesters on all sides – there’s more material than ever for that story.
And Then the Hero Just Takes his $300 Billion and Disappears?
No, that’s ludicrous. Read almost any story about lottery jackpot winners and what happens to them after they get their 9-figure lump sums. A modern day Monty Brewster would lose his mind in this TMZ era of 24/7 cable news attention. My Monty Brewster would lose, or at the very least give the money away, before something more fulfilling happens to him. People don’t want to see the hero become a billionaire anymore. They want to see the hero remain a human.
That’s not to say that I would turn down $300 billion if my great-uncle died and left it to me. Everyone wants to be wealthy, obviously, but it’s not happening without a little work. That’s why I’d write 2013’s Brewster’s Millions for free. You know, if anyone from Warner Bros. happens to read this.