My oldest son is a professional musician. My wife and I are not. So there was only so much musical theory we could give to him. That said, there was a key bit of advice we did give. That was: “Do not ever cover a song that has already been made perfect.”
Just think on it. How many times have you heard a moderately talented singer/songwriter attempt to play a cover version of “Brown Eyed Girl?” Sure, the interpretation may be fun and tuneful, but is it ever better than the Van Morrison’s original?
No, it never is.
Our advice to our son was not that he should never play a cover song, just that he shouldn’t record those songs that were perfect pieces.
Which brings me to my beef with Hollywood laying its hands on the faultless creations of Dr. Seuss — the most recent debacle being, The Lorax.
I wonder what Hollywood must have been thinking when it got the idea that it could improve upon Seuss’ classic morality tale? (Actually, it wasn’t aiming to improve on it, just make money. Hence…) A simple, 72-paged children’s book, The Lorax is a serious story about the danger that comes with pollution, and of what happens when we carelessly treat the Earth. Seuss’ story was everything it ever needed to be, a heartfelt life-lesson for parents and children. It was perfect, and in my estimation, could never be improved upon.
Now, this timeless classic has been made into an embarrassing film. Did Dr. Seuss feel the need to include a young boy, who as Rotten Tomatoes says, “searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams”? Not ever. Trite Hollywood subplots like these were never needed in the original classic and should have never been added to the tale.
I’m also reminded of Jim Carey’s rubber faced antics in Ron Howard’s recent take of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I ask you, did we need the Grinch’s childhood tales or to know of his enduring love for Martha May Whovier? Surely not. Once again, Hollywood toyed with perfection. Could this have ever been an improvement on the Seuss’ consummate book and cartoon?
I think you know the answer to that question.
And so, just as my wife and I taught my son, I would suggest a remolded lesson for Hollywood: “Never retell a story that has already been told to perfection as the retelling will never be better than the original.”