Sometimes it feels like all the box office is churning out are remakes, but romance remakes, in particular, are all the rage right now. From the disappointing TikTok update on He’s All That to the recently announced Bodyguard remake, it’s clearly a good time to revisit some of our favorite love stories. While plenty of remakes fail to improve upon the original, some remakes of classics end up becoming classics themselves. Below, we rank ten of the best romance remakes from the worst to the greatest.
10. The Last Kiss
Written by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis and directed by Scandal alum Tony Goldwyn, The Last Kiss was a remake of the Italian film L’ultimo bacio. Zach Braff stars as a guy who begins to feel trapped by his pregnant, long-term girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett) and seeks companionship from a younger woman (Rachel Bilson). Even aside from the remake aspect, it’s not the most original plot. But there’s a solid supporting cast and, like all Braff movies, a great indie soundtrack.
9. The Lake House
Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves reunited for the first time since Speed — with less successful results — in this remake of the South Korean film Il Mare. No doubt, these two had chemistry, but they spend most of the movie apart, writing longing love letters across time. The movie commits to the original’s magical time-travel premise, even if the logic of it left something to be desired. But if you ignore the timey-wimey bits, it’s a decent long-distance romance.
8. Shall We Dance?
Shall We Dance? didn’t live up to the success of its Japanese counterpart, which won many awards in its home country, in part because it lacked cultural context. (The original explains that ballroom dancing was frowned upon in Japan, adding tension to the protagonist’s journey.) Still, the US version has a strong cast led by Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon, and did a fine job of delivering the story’s message about freedom of self-expression.
7. Valley Girl (2020)
Starring Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day) and Josh Whitehouse (the upcoming Daisy Jones & The Six television adaptation) the 2020 remake put a twist on the ’80s classic by turning it into a jukebox musical, with period-appropriate tunes like “We Got The Beat” and “Under Pressure.” It may not have a young Nicholas Cage as its lead, but the nostalgia-laden musical has its charms (Jake Paul notwithstanding).
6. About Last Night (2014)
This 2014 remake updated the ’80s Brat Pack entry with a predominantly Black cast — what one might call the Packer Pack, as several of the leads have appeared in other Will Packer-produced films. The result is a fun, modern take on the source material (which actually goes back to the stage, with David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago) bolstered by great comic performances from Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.
5. Sabrina (1995)
Any remake would be hard-pressed to top an original with a cast like Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden. While the 1995 film inevitably suffered in comparison, the Harrison Ford-led romance is perfectly enjoyable on its own and features the film debut of Greg Kinnear, who would go on to have a very productive career in the romance biz.
4. A Star Is Born (2018)
When it comes to A Star Is Born, you can pick your poison, with four versions of all-star casts to choose from dating back to 1937. That said, the 2018 remake starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (who also co-wrote and directed the film) was a phenomenon in its own right and managed to stand on its own despite the familiar story. Adding to the success were the original Gaga-penned tracks (for which she followed in Barbra Streisand’s footsteps to nab Best Original Song at the Academy Awards).
3. You’ve Got Mail
This beloved Nora Ephron film is a remake of the 1940 Jimmy Stewart-led The Shop Around the Corner (which was also remade in 1949 as a musical, In the Good Old Summertime, starring Judy Garland). The rom-com, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, preserves the core story with a twist: while all of the films have an element of professional rivalry between the two secret pen-pals, Ephron ratcheted up the tension by giving her leads competing bookstores. Plus, the premise worked perfectly for the dawn of the email age.
2. His Girl Friday
When we think about remakes, we usually think of modern updates of old classics. But some of the classics are actually remakes themselves, like His Girl Friday. The definitive screwball comedy was released nine years after the original, The Front Page (which was adapted from a 1928 play by the same name). His Girl Friday adds a romantic element to the original plot by making journalist, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), the ex-wife of editor, Walter Burns (Cary Grant). While the two are pursuing the story of convicted murderer, Earl Williams, Burns is also pursuing a relationship with his ex-wife — who is now engaged to another man. With great performances and some new zest to the story, it’s one of the all-time great remakes in movie history.
1. Holiday (1938)
George Cukor, one of the most celebrated directors in American cinema, had a lot of success with adaptations and remakes (he directed the 1954 A Star Is Born with Judy Garland). Amidst a long and storied career, Holiday is considered one of Cukor’s best. Compared to the 1930 version, this Holiday would have succeeded simply because film technology had improved and the “talkies” were a lot smoother. But it also benefited from stellar leads in Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn (their third of four matchups), and of course, Cukor’s direction. Who knew a remake would go down as one of the best films of all time?
There’s even a Jake Gyllenhaal movie on this list!
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