Before he was a back-to-back Oscar-winning dramatic actor, Tom Hanks was considered to be a strictly comedic star. In the 1980s, Hanks starred in a number of goofball comedies like Bachelor Party, The Burbs, and Volunteers — the latter of which paired him with '80s comedy king John Candy. Another film starring the two of them is the 1984 comedy Splash, which saw Hanks fall in love with a mermaid played by Daryl Hannah. That movie is getting a gender-swapped remake starring Channing Tatum and Jillian Bell, and some fans of the '84 version are worried. But I actually think Channing Tatum's Splash can improve upon the original.
First, let me just say that Splash isn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination. Don't get me wrong. It's a good movie. It's funny, it's heartwarming, and it has a good dose of fantasy. It did well at the box office and it was well-received critically, but how often do you hear people talking about Splash today? Especially compared to another 1984 comedy that was just rebooted, Ghostbusters? The answer is, not very often. Splash is hardly sacred, so any idea that a remake is sacrilege is silly. But the remake also sounds like it could some really interesting things that make it an entirely different type of movie, so here are the ways it could end up being better than the first film.
First things first, I've seen a bunch of articles already talking about how Tatum will be playing a mermaid in the film. This is incorrect. He will be playing a merman. Merman! Compared to the culturally-ingrained mermaid, the merman is a pretty underused fantasy character. Therefore, the movie will have free range to come up with a fun, new merman mythology all its own.
2. Jillian Bell
The real reason this movie will work is because of Bell's comedic abilities. She is an extraordinarily funny and talented improviser, and just the thought of how she might react upon encountering Tatum's merman already has me checking Fandango for ticket pre-sale information.
3. Disney Is On A Roll With Remakes
Disney's live action is killing it lately. Without even getting into the success of their Marvel and Star Wars properties, Disney has found new life with their live action fantasy remakes like The Jungle Book and Pete's Dragon, and a modern Splash in the hands of today's Disney could be something special.
4. The Leads Have Established Chemistry
The chemistry between Hanks and Hannah was good in the first film, but it was also their first project together. Fans already know that Bell and Tatum are great together thanks to 22 Jump Street, and seeing this comedic pairing reunite in a new environment is a guaranteed win.
5. Mermaids Are Having A Moment
For whatever reason, mermaids are in the zeitgeist. Over the past few years there have been sightings of a mermaid in Israel (not kidding) and a faux documentary about the discovery of mermaids on Animal Planet that had a bunch of people convinced the creatures are real. People seem to want to believe in human-fish hybrids at the moment, so Splash could be hitting at just the right time to be a pop culture powerhouse.
6. It Could Offer A New Perspective
The original Splash played pretty much like a regular rom-com, albeit with a fantasy element. But the new film is rumored to be told mainly from Tatum's character's point of view. Fans have obviously seen this perspective in The Little Mermaid , but seeing the world from a merman's point of view in a more adult film opens up the doors to a lot of new jokes and moments.
7. Channing Tatum
Tatum's looks obviously get him a lot of attention, but he's an underrated comic performer. He's especially good at physical comedy, and I'm betting there are a lot of funny things he'll be able to do as a merman that Hannah (who's a talented actress, but not known as a jokester) just wasn't capable of.
8. Potential For A Less Generic Villain
Nearly every movie in the Reagan '80s had the government as the bad guys, and Splash was no exception. Did this light rom-com about a mermaid really need shady government agents chasing after her? Probably not. The new movie isn't confined to this trope, and should be able to come up with a much more interesting story for the film's villains. I'd like to suggest a reality TV producer who wants to exploit the merman; that's pretty 2016.
9. Ron Howard & Brian Grazer Have Learned A Lot
Director Howard and producer Grazer were both early in their careers when they made Splash, and I'm sure there's a lot about the film they would change now after over 30 very successful years spent making movies. The two Oscar-winners are both on board as producers for the remake, and you can bet they ensure it's of the highest quality.
10. Better Effects
Splash wasn't a super effects-heavy film, but 2016 technology will no doubt improve upon whatever they had going on in 1984. With today's movie effects, people will believe that mermaids, err, mermen, are real.
The Splash remake has a lot of potential to be great. It won't be easy, but if the factors I've laid out in this list are all exploited fully, then the new film could definitely top the original.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; Giphy