We're sure the news that a Rookie of the Year remake warming up at 20th Century Fox (perÂ Deadline)Â will make some of you want to take a bat to your computer. The 1993 film has proved to be timeless, a kid's classic that still makes us laugh 25 years later. And frankly, the timelessness of its great premiseâ€”an accident turns a Little Leaguer into a world-class pitcherâ€”is why it might be a perfect property to return to. What kid playing in the backyard hasn't imagined what it would be like to play professional sports like Henry... Rabinbuser... Rosinbagger...Â Runamucker? The idea will always appeal to a young audience.But to make sure the remake lives up to the original, we have five things a new Rookie of the Year should do to be successful. And they all involve ignoring the first movie.
1) Pick a Different Sport
The first film perfectly used the rhythms of a long baseball season and what it would mean for a child to be in the MLB, from the fun and camaraderie of long road trips, to dugout banter, to the constant grind of playing every day, to having a kid face Major League pitching. Rather than replay the same jokes we've already heard, the remake should chose different sport with its own idiosyncrasies and inherent silliness. Baseball is slow moving, but how funny would it for a kid to deal with a fast moving sport like hockey or basketball? What about the constant motion of soccer? A new sport means new material.
2) Sign with a Successful Sports Franchise
The Cubs are no longer lovable losers after winning the World Series in 2016, but in '93 they were, and that's why Henry Gardenhoser was not just a phenom but a savior. He was new hope for the entire franchise. It's a tired trope in sports movies in general, not just kid's ones, so to keep this remake fresh let the kid sign with a good franchise. Invert the pressure from hope to expectations. Will fans be as supportive if they expect to win? If success is taken for granted? How do winners respond when things go wrong? It's a much more interesting angle than watching yet another "sad sack organization turns it around" story.
3) Have a Female Lead
Speaking of a new and interesting take on this premise, an all-new type of story opens up if the main character is a girl. She wouldn't just have to deal with being a kid playing pro sports; she'd also have to deal with being the first female athlete in the league (depending on the sport). There's no way every teammate would be okay with her being on the team, while others would probably go into super protective dad mode. A female athlete lead, who would be viewed and treated by society very differently than a boy, creates a natural source of both tension and humor.
4) Embrace Modern Day Fame in a World of Social Media
Being famous in 2018 is not the same thing as being famous in 1993, and while the original film has a timelessness to it, a remake would feel inauthentic if it ignored the unrelenting toll of social media and a 24/7 news cycle in the modern world. Henry Rullengruder would have been 100 times more famous now than he was then, which would have made his life 100 times more challenging.
5) Ignore the Beats of the First Movie
Don't repeat any of the major plot points or characters from the first film. That means no single parent, no sleazy boyfriend, no old guy at the end of his career, no stupid owner, no subplot to secretly trade the kid to another team, and "it turned out it was mom's glove all along" type of reveal--nothing that feels like a copy of the original. The remake will work if it relies on the great premise, not because it is trying to recreate the same things we've already seen. Why do we need that? We still watch Rookie of the Year every time it's on, we don't need a cheap knockoff.Because this new movie will have to stand on its own by giving us an original perspective on what it would be like to be a kid in this situation, we'd even prefer if it existed in it's own universe where a Little Leaguer never pitched for the Cubs. That way the crazy situation even feels new to the characters involved. Even though we love him, for a Rookie of the Year remake to work, when we are watching it we can't be thinking about Henry....I want to say Rullenverter?Though the remake should feel free to reuse that whole mispronounced name gag again. We never get tired of that.What do you think they should do to make a remake work? Step up to the plate in our comments section and let us know.
Images: 20th Century Fox