Joss Whedon sighs audibly. Fans around the world cringe, cry, and/or feel the need to slay something, like, right now. But me? I'm kind of intrigued.
"How funky is your chicken! How loose is your goose!" That awful, cringe-inducing cheer perfectly sums up the atrocious 90-minute predecessor of one of the best TV series of all time. Never before have I watched a movie with so much incredulity and so many inappropriate laughs. It was awesome.
I first had the film on VHS, and hated it until I was older and developed a sardonic appreciation for how terrible it was. I couldn't tell you my favourite part, because there's just too many: the above-mentioned cheer routine, the part where Luke Perry's friend is awkwardly hovering outside the window, how upset Buffy gets when her friend steals her fugly jacket, the random over-the-top vampire death scene that really is indescribable in so many ways...I hate to say it, because I know a lot of you will vehemently disagree with this, but this movie truly falls into the category of so bad it's good. Or, rather, so bad it's SO bad it's good. Or...so bad it's just bad - which is good because it makes me laugh and appreciate the TV series so much more.
The thing that went wrong for the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie though, to be serious for a moment, was that the executive producers Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband Kaz completely misinterpreted Joss Whedon's intent. Joss has said before that what he wanted was a heroine who was the archetypical ditzy blonde who would be cornered in a back alley and hacked to bits in the first act of any self-respecting slasher movie - only this girl would have the power to kick the monsters' asses and save the world, nails and 'tude intact. What director Fran failed to realise, however, was that this concept was not stupid. And that by treating it like it was, the movie would inevitably end up a parody of itself, ala Scary Movie if it took itself seriously.
I do have to say though, that I'm all for second chances and believing that, just maybe, the Kuzuis have learned a thing or two in the past 19 years. I certainly have: learning to read and write, for example. And what I find vaguely intriguing about the reboot, if I look very closely, is that they are planning to take it in a "darker direction" than the TV series - which of course succeeded in the first place partially because it took itself more seriously than the movie and made the concept darker.
So, putting aside the fact that this will never be anything like the TV series, and that any attempt to make it similar will only be construed as a mockery by the loyal fanbase: is there a real chance that this movie could in fact be - dare I say it - good?
Imagine, for a moment, if the writers, director and actors (already knowing that Buffy can be more than a half-parodic comedy) went with the darkness, took the character of Buffy and completely re-imagined her to make her fit into the wave of dark, Watchmen and Underworld-style movies. What if it didn't try to be like the TV show at all, nor the 1992 movie, but focused on the edgy Vampire Slayer in the title rather than the established Buffy as we know her? What if it was something totally different than what we're expecting?
I'm taking a moment to consider it.
Okay, I've considered it, and here's my prediction: Nah, it'll still be crap. Because what it sounds like to me is that yes, the Kuzuis have indeed learned their lesson that a heroine like Buffy is not to be scoffed at and mocked, and they're indeed going to take her seriously. Too seriously, which is why it's not gonna work. Because without Joss Whedon and his trademark brand of ironic, self-reflexive humour, we'll be looking at a very, very serious Buffy, with a very serious mission. Which can never, ever work for a concept like this.
Joss Whedon spoke out about the project last year, saying,
I don't love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I'm also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly.
And here's the thing about the Kuzuis: they haven't done anything besides Buffy and a film about Tokyo back in the '80s. I have no reason to trust them with one of my all-time favourite fictional characters. I think whatever they do - attempted comedy or attempted seriousness - it's gonna fail without Joss Whedon and his tongue-in-cheek writing style. As a TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn't become a cult classic because of its special effects (remember 'Reptile Boy'?), nor because of its plot alone, original as it was. It succeeded because of, "If the apocalypse comes, beep me," and "It's a big rock. I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big." And let's not forget the actors: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anthony Stewart Head, Nicholas Brendon, James Marsters, Alyson Hannigan and the rest of the stars are what made the characters, what made us love them and hate them and identify with them and root for them even in the context of the chaotic improbability that was their lives.
It's sad, to imagine all of this being overwritten because Hollywood can't leave well enough alone. But can you honestly say that you're not even the tiniest bit curious what this movie will be like? If either it's going to be a complete reinterpretation of what we know, and allow us to examine Buffy in a whole new way - or, as is more likely, it's gonna offer us the same incredulous, jaw-dropping amusement which the 1992 movie did?
I'll be perfectly honest: I want this reboot movie to fail. I want it to be as terrible as the original, and worse. If it's any kind of good I'll be severely disappointed - as I imagine most of the franchise's loyal fans will be, being sure that nothing without Joss Whedon could possibly have even a shadow of success.
I know that most fans feel that the "right" thing for "real" Buffy fans to do is to boycott the Kuzui-sans-Joss project, and I know that's what most of you are gonna do - and might see me as a blasphemous heathen for doing anything else. And believe me, what I want more than anything is for the movie never to happen, for the Buffy legacy end with the amazing TV series (and okay, the comics can exist too, they're kind of fun), for the franchise not to be tarnished for future generations.
But if and when the movie does come out? I'll be lining up, with a big-[beep] tub of popcorn, ready to be as wow-ed by the Kuzuis as last time they took a swing at this. What can I say? I'm a sucker for disaster movies.