The Overboard remake gave us a genderbent version with Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez in a role originally played by Goldie Hawn. Here are five more romcom remakes we’d love to see with diverse stars in the leading roles!
I’m ready to see the long-maligned genre of the romcom make a comeback.
I mean, yes, they’re zany and unrealistic and often ask us to suspend our disbelief. But at their best — and I’m talking Nora Ephron/Rob Reiner best — romantic comedies are about character growth, the importance of community and the transformative nature of love.
And while even these really great ones ask us to suspend our disbelief in some way, they also allow us to escape into a world that’s softer and kinder — the kind that has tidy resolutions and happy endings. These are the types of movies that you can put on at the end of a long day and just feel good about life, even if just for two hours. Given the current state of our reality, that’s not the worst trope to have in a film.
And even though the Overboard remake wasn’t a great film — someone taking advantage of a person’s amnesia for their own gain isn’t the most romantic of set-ups — I did appreciate its attempts to push beyond the standard studio romcom story of two white people falling in love.
In fact, this is one of the reasons I’m hoping for a romcom renaissance — so many of the current successful ones and most buzzed about upcoming ones have stepped outside the generic story of white people falling in love. The Big Sick — starring Kumail Nanjiani — was nominated for an Oscar, while Love, Simon — a gay teen romcom with queer characters of color — was a bonafide box office hit.
And while we have a good amount of romcoms with diverse casts coming out — Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Something Great, to name a few — we also know that Hollywood is always going to want to remake older movies from here until eternity.
So with that in mind, here are five faves that I would love for Hollywood to go ahead and remake with diverse leads.
Summary: A young man is reunited with a mermaid who saves him from drowning as a boy and falls in love not knowing who/what she is.
Fancast: Zendaya Coleman as Madison (originally played by Daryl Hannah)
John Boyega as Allen (originally played by Tom Hanks)
This movie is a little (okay, maybe a lot) bit ridiculous, but it’s so damn charming that I’d love to see a remake. And actually, there’s already a genderbent Splash remake in the works, with Channing Tatum starring as a merman in the updated version. Frankly, this sounds absolutely amazing and I’ll go see it even if the Rotten Tomatoes score is 2%. Still, I’d also love to see a version where Zendaya plays a mermaid to John Boyega’s recently single Allen. The combined on-screen charisma would be so much fun to watch!
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Summary: When a woman’s long-time friend reveals he’s engaged, she realizes she loves him herself and sets out to get him, with only days before the wedding.
Fancast: Oscar Isaac as Michael (originally played by Dermot Mulroney)
Rosario Dawson as Julianne (originally played by Julia Roberts)
Lindsey Morgan as Kim (originally played by Cameron Diaz)
Gemma Chan as Michael (originally played by Dermot Mulroney)
Tessa Thompson as Julianne (originally played by Julia Roberts)
Lindsey Morgan as Kim (originally played by Cameron Diaz)
We’d have to make a few changes to this one, mainly the fact that the two main characters have an oath to marry one another if they’re still single at 28 (!!!???) and that the Michael character decided to marry a 20 (!!!!!) year old after knowing her a very short time. Let’s age up the two main characters up to their mid 30s and the Kimmy character to at least her mid-20s. But from there, we’d keep everything else — the hijinks, the fake engagements, that scene where everyone in the restaurant bursts into “I say a little prayer!” Let’s do this, Hollywood!
Summary: A man in a legal but hurtful business needs an escort for some social events, and hires a beautiful prostitute he meets… only to fall in love.
Fancast: Kerry Washington as Edward (originally played by Richard Gere)
Avan Jogia as Vivian (originally played by Julia Roberts)
I’m actually a little bit surprised we haven’t already had a genderbent remake of this movie (although we do have 2005’s The Wedding Date, which featured a male escort). Perhaps it’s because having a movie about a charming prostitute traverse the rags to riches tropes isn’t exactly a surefire hit — but then again, neither is a story about one person using another’s amnesia for their own gain, yet that movie still got made. Kerry Washington is absolutely perfect as a suave businesswoman, while Avan Jorgia is an actor I’ve waited for years to break into the mainstream and inhabits that rough around the edges but still good looking appeal that’d be well suited for a down on his luck escort.
While You Were Sleeping
Summary: A hopeless romantic Chicago Transit Authority token collector is mistaken for the fiancée of a coma patient.
Fancast: Gina Rodriguez as Lucy (originally played by Sandra Bullock)
Alfred Enoch as Jack (originally played by Bill Pullman)
Michael B. Jordan as Peter (originally played by Peter Gallagher)
A lot of this movie’s success owes itself to the likability and charm of Sandra Bullock. After all, this woman essentially tricks the family of this comatose man into believing that she is his fiancee. If we’re being honest, this is just as likely to be the synopsis of a horror movie or thriller as it is a romcom. So whoever plays the lead role in this has to be charismatic enough and lovable enough to pull this movie from thriller territory into warm and fuzzy romcom territory. Luckily, Gina Rodriguez has charisma in spades and is nothing if not lovable, so she’d absolutely be able to shoulder that responsibility. Plus, seeing her, Michael B. Jordan and Alfred Enoch on-screen all at the same time would just be an absolute blast.
You’ve Got Mail
Summary: Two business rivals who despise each other in real life unwittingly fall in love over the Internet.
Fancast: Constance Wu as Kathleen (originally played by Meg Ryan)
Donald Glover as Joe (originally played by Tom Hanks)
Gael Bernal Garcia as Kathleen (originally played by Meg Ryan)
Oscar Isaac as Joe (originally played by Tom Hanks)
Yes, I know that this would be a remake of a remake (which was likewise a movie based on a pre-existing play), but it’s just so damn good and charming — with the concept so easily adaptable to different contexts — that I’d love to see a modern-day remake. We could update the big box store versus little shop around the corner dynamics to a more contemporary context, with Donald Glover or Oscar Isaac playing a C-level Amazon executive to Constance Wu or Gael Bernal Garcia’s manager of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. We’d have our leads connecting over Twitter or Instagram DMs rather than email (AOL email! Oh, the memories), with social media playing a bigger role and changing the dynamics quite a bit. It’d be a fantastic update to a lovely story and I’m pretty much ready to throw my money to any version of this movie.
When Harry Met Sally
Summary: Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.
Fancast: Gina Rodriguez as Sally (originally played by Meg Ryan)
Hasan Minhaj as Harry (Hari?) (originally played by Billy Crystal)
Gina Rodriguez as Sally (originally played by Meg Ryan)
Stephanie Beatriz as Harry (originally played by Billy Crystal)
This is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time and one of the best romantic comedies ever made. This slowburn enemies to friends to lovers to enemies to lovers (again) story is my number one go-to any time I’m feeling down and the movie that I make my husband watch with me every New Year’s Eve. Still, I absolutely think that it’d be a great one to remake — and give us the opportunity to update the rather cringeworthy question of “can men and women be friends?” into something less basic and heteronormative. I know I already cast Gina Rodriguez in a While you were Sleeping remake, but honestly, there are few actresses out there as talented or charismatic as her who could fill these very big shoes. Seeing her and Hasan Minhaj or her and Stephanie Beatriz traverse the 12 year relationship in this movie would be my favorite thing ever and I’m already buying 10 tickets to this pretend remake in my mind.