For some reason I was thinking about the remake on the way home from work, and I had a thought: what if they cast Sykes in the Martin role? Casting her in Tomlin's role is too easy, and the scenario they have in mind—"make the woman someone younger who will play off a man who's more of a milquetoast"—is one we've seen many times. It's all too easy to imagine what BHR called the "stumbling around putting on a wacky look-whitey's-talking-black voice" performance we're bound to see from whomever they cast in the Martin role; what's much harder to imagine is what anyone could do with such a performance that Gene Wilder didn't already do better in Silver Streak.
But having her play the Martin part… it could work. Here's what I have in mind: Sykes, like Martin, is a lawyer at a white-shoe law firm. But far from being a favorite of the partners, she's looked down upon by the higher-ups because of her brashness and her, well, blackness. When she gets possessed by her client's spirit, she starts acting more like the partners expect her to act (i.e., more like them), thanks to his unerstanding of how people like that expect others to behave. Then something something something, Sykes realizes that she doesn't want to change who she is to please a bunch of stuck-up prigs, tells the blue bloods to stuff it, and hangs out her own shingle, with the reincarnated Edwin by her side. The end; strike up the hip-hop remake of the Marks & Simon standard and roll the credits. Obviously I need to be more explicit in step two, as it were, but that's a problem for the screenwriter.
Assuming for the moment that they do cast Sykes in the Martin role, who should play theTomlin part? To me, it seems there are two obvious choices. If they want to go the younger milquetoast route, David Hyde Pierce would work well. Alternatively, they could go the opposite route and make the male lead a crotchety old man. And who would be better in a part like than the director of the original, Carl Reiner?
Mind you, even with my spin on it, I still don't think it's a movie that needs to be made. But my way would be more interesting, I think.