BET President Scott Mills probably knew that when he announced that the network had ordered a Boomerang reboot as one of its three straight-to-series orders, some fans would be irked. The 1992 Eddie Murphy-starring film is a gift that keeps on giving, providing memorable scenes that stand the test of time.
To be fair, Boomerang could become one of BET's successes. But even if it holds its own once it debuts, the original film will always win, and here's why.
1. The cast can't be beat: There’s nothing like Murphy when he was at the height of his popularity. At his zenith, Murphy successfully combined leading man charm with his bad boy comedian sensibilities, creating characters who challenged the status quo as much as they entertained. In many ways, Murphy’s character in Boomerang, Marcus, builds on the ideas behind Coming to America’s Prince Akeem. Akeem presented a positive (and for many people, the first) look at Africa’s history and royal legacy. The character gave viewers a renewed sense of pride, as well as a fictional place in Africa they could call home. Similarly, Marcus showed another side of black life rarely lauded in cinema--the high-powered black professional. Marcus is an ad executive at an all-black advertising agency, and unlike in Robert Downey Sr.’s 1969 satire about blackness in the workplace Putney Swope, we aren’t meant to view Marcus and his colleagues in an ironic light.
Murphy isn’t the only heavy hitter in this cast. With talent like Halle Berry, David Alan Grier, Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell-Martin, John Witherspoon, Chris Rock, Eartha Kitt, Geoffrey Holder and Grace Jones, how could the film lose? Sure, the film’s script, based on a story by Murphy and written by Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, is water-tight. But with actors like these, the already-great script is elevated to an endlessly rewatchable masterpiece.
2.The film’s timeless style: Sometimes when we think of the ‘90s, we don’t think of “timeless fashion;” stirrup pants and hair scrunchies aren’t especially glamorous. But Boomerang sifted through the muck of ‘90s pedestrian style and gave us costuming that combined the best of New Jack Swing, such as Marcus’s baggy and saturated suits and Angela’s funky, eclectic style and old school vintage like Lady Eloise’s furs, turbans and 1940s lingerie and Jacqueline’s penchant for tailored suiting. Combined with the avant-garde and futuristic looks served by Strangé, the result is a film that effortlessly captures the fashionable side of the early ‘90s, seamlessly combining the era’s disparate fashion trends into a cohesive package. Seeing how the ‘90s aesthetic is back in vogue, Boomerang should be on every fashionista’s watchlist.
3. Fan loyalty: From a quick scan of Twitter reactions, not too many Boomerang fans are feeling the idea of a reboot. With opinions ranging from apathetic to outright anger, many who love this film just want BET to leave a reboot alone and move on to more original projects.
The reaction is something BET had to know would happen. Classics are given that distinction for a reason, and generally fans of said classics don’t like it when someone thinks they can somehow do better. What could a reboot do that the original hasn’t already done (and done well)? No one wants a reboot to feel like an imitation that pales in comparison, but that’s a possibility with which the team behind the Boomerang reboot will have to wrestle. Currently, what we know about the reboot is that it’ll be a story exploring “contemporary workplace dynamics, including the changing role of gender, office politics, relationships and the conflicts between Generation X and millennials.” To be fair to the reboot, utilizing today’s conversation about workplace etiquette and gender roles could bring something unique to the story, especially in light of the #MeToo era we’re living in. But even with this glimmer of hope, there’s a lot of worry outweighing the potential positives.
Boomerang is not just a film, it’s a cultural icon and part of the black American collective consciousness. This film is important to many people for many different reasons, whether it was a viewer’s first opportunity to see black professionals excelling in the workplace or whether it’s simply because that hilarious Strangé perfume commercial can never be topped. With fans already being unkind to the prospect of a Boomerang update, BET will either have to get ready to count its losses or work even harder to bring a show that can stand up to the original.