Recently, Will Ferrell announced the return of Ron Burgundy and the Channel Four News Team in the upcoming film Anchorman 2. As much as I love Anchorman, a part of me is a little skeptical about this sequel. Comedy sequels are always a bit sketchy, as they mostly turn into a tired rehash of the original's gags and jokes. Plus, it has been several years, and several horrible movies by Farrell (not to mention the rest of the News Team) so I don't know if the magic can happen again. But, if it's half as funny as the original Anchorman, or half as funny as this viral video, I'll be satisfied.
The announcement got me thinking about sequels. I'm not completely against them, and I even think some are superior to the originals; but there is always a risk in returning to sacred ground because a horrible sequel has the power to ruin your perception of the original.
Some sequels are bad because the original is so good that nothing can compare to it; your expectations are so high and the anticipation is so great that nothing can satisfy you. Some characters just do not hold up for more than one movie and become stale in the second incarnation. Some movies are completely plot-driven, and there is no logical continuation of the plot, so the sequel is completely unrealistic. Some movies are perfectly set up for sequels, yet the second pales in comparison to the original, either in story or execution, or both. And some sequels simply should have never been made.
These next few movies have really let me down. We all have that feeling, after seeing a great movie, of never wanting the story to end; but sometimes, when the story doesn't end soon enough, it winds up faltering. It's better to quit while your ahead. So nowadays, I think it's a natural reaction to be hesitant about sequels because so many have been made simply for the sake of profit. And complain all you want about the lack of original stories, but in 2011, 9 out of the top 10 highest grossing films were sequels (and the other was an adaptation of an old Communist cartoon). So get used to it.
In honor of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, I'm going to take a look at some movies whose resurrections were also highly questionable and widely debated. I'm not going to include anything past the 2nd movie, so Godfather 3 will not be here (although that was one of the first obvious incidents of producers tarnishing a movie's legacy in the name of a cash grab). I also won't include straight-to-video garbage, so Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure will not be on here, either. Lastly, if the original was horrible, I won't bother putting the sequel on this list (sorry 2 Fast 2 Furious).
As fans of the Greatest Story Ever Told can tell you, sometimes the Second Coming of a great character is so over-hyped that there's no possibility of satisfaction even if that character does return; therefore, the best thing for everybody is for that character to never return at all.
Here are some films that didn't learn that lesson:
Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day
Boondock Saints is a cult favorite that came out of nowhere during my college years to become a staple of my early 20s. The sequel came out almost 10 years later, and it was a sad, sad parody of itself. The music was probably the worst thing about it, but watching these worn-down B-movie actors try to recapture the glory of their best roles ever was brutal. The cheesy lines were forced, unlike in the first movie where it seemed like nobody was taking themselves seriously because they figured it wouldn't be seen. The action sequences couldn't recreate the sense of detached coolness that the first one so effortlessly exuded, and after the third or fourth time seeing the lead actor's bare asses, you start to wonder whether or not the first movie was actually good or if it just seemed that way while watching it four screwdrivers deep with 10 of your best friends.
There is literally nothing good about this movie except Vince Vaughn's laugh. Be Cool continues the story of Chili Palmer, the reformed loan shark who we all wanted to be in Get Shorty. Chili has conquered Hollywood as a film producer and now he wants to conquer the music industry. Most of the movie focuses on him attempting to get Christina Milian a record deal. There is a 6 minute music video to end the movie, with John Travolta watching Milian from the side of the stage as he does the white guy head nod and overbite. Get Shorty fanned the flames of the comeback fire of Travolta's career that Pulp Fiction ignited, and Be Cool kicked dirt over the dying embers of that comeback.
X-Men: The Last Stand
Fucking Brett Ratner.
(Spider-Man 3 gets dishonorable mention for ruining the greatest comic book villain ever, Venom, and for Peter Parker's emo dance-off.)
Home Alone 2
This is what happens when a family film with a cute kid and an original, some-what believable story becomes insanely successful; movie producers want to cash in on that success and create a sequel that simply repeats the story line (no matter how ridiculous) and move the action to a different location.
Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is, in all honesty, one of my favorite movies of all time. The mix of low-brow with high-brow humor and over-the-top antics with subtle intellect, makes it a timeless classic. There is a lot of meaning behind the shenanigans and quite a bit of hidden religious symbolism. I truly consider it the Quran of comedy movies; that being said, Bogus Journey is like The Satanic Verses. This is the shit that was never supposed to go public. This is the shit that totally contradicts and desecrates all that has occurred in the sacred original. This is pure blasphemy and if the Ayatollah hasn't put out a fatwa on the film-makers' heads, I'm doing it right now.
American Pie 2
That still shot is by far the best part of this required sequel to the risque teen comedy about sexing up mom's pie. In the tradition of Porky's, you know what you're getting with this tits-and-ass shock-comedy, but I still expected a lot more. Maybe it was a matter of timing; maybe I was just a bit too old for it, whereas the first one came at the perfect time. The truth is, I didn't like American Pie that much after the first viewing, so maybe this one never had a chance. The characters are pretty much unbearable (especially the Rookie of the Year kid) and the lack of an original story or likable characters can not be replaced by half-naked young women, though I appreciate the effort.
Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first movie, and I enjoyed this sequel, until about two hours in. When it kept going, and going, and going, I lost interest and actually started to grow resentful. The story does not merit that much screen time, and the longer you have to reflect on the fact that you are spending two-and-a-half hours watching pirates being chased by zombie pirates, the more likely you are to question why they based an entire movie series on a Disney World ride in the first place.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze
Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance
On second thought, I can't wait for this movie!
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
This video of a random guy bad-mouthing the movie has been watched more times than the movie itself.
Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
This is actually a prequel, but it is so bad it needed to be mentioned. Fortunately, the previews were honest and didn't try to pass it off as a good movie, so I didn't spend money on it. In fact, I didn't even see this one. The very idea of Dumb and Dumber without Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels is sacrilege and this movie should be taken as a sign to never do a sequel without the major players of the original.
Which brings us to:
Major League 2
This was another movie that had major casting changes. This wasn't a horrible movie, but there's no comparison to Silence of the Lambs. Instead of intrigue and mind games and tense, dark dialogue, there were shoot-outs, wild boars, a confusing story in Italy, and Ray Liotta eating his own brain (ok that was cool). They took all subtlety from the first film and ripped it out of the characters like Lecter ripped Gary Oldman's face off. Again, it wasn't horrible, but we should have all known something was amiss when Jodie Foster (along with the screenwriter and director of the original) didn't sign on to reprise the role that made her a superstar.
Speed 2: Cruise Control
Keanu Reeves learned his lesson from the disaster that is Bogus Journey and declined to do this sequel to the mega-hit Speed. Who would have thought Keanu knew what he was doing when he turned down millions? This is another one where the success of a movie can not be replicated by simply transporting the entire premise to a new location. Besides, cruise ships don't need to be speeding to be horrifying.
"He's in town with a few days to kill." <--Actual tagline from trailer!
However, there's good-bad 80s action movies, then there's horrible-bad action movies. Predator 2 was the latter. Substituting Danny Glover and Gary Busey for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and relocating from the jungle to the sewer, this movie was so absurdly bad that the studio decided to permanently kill off the predator story line and forget the whole thing ever happened. Just kidding...they made three more! Two with aliens!
Weekend at Bernie's 2
Sticking with the 80's theme...if you lived through the 80's, you know you loved Weekend at Bernie's. And if you saw the first one, you immediately knew that this sequel was a bad idea.
Ocean's Eleven was so cool. You got to see a bunch of your favorite actors basically hanging out with each other while some cool shit happened in the background. Ocean's Twelve tried so hard to be that cool, but it had an even more ridiculous heist scheme, and a horrible attempt at meta-humor with that sub-plot where Julia Roberts' character played Julia Roberts the actress to escape the hotel. Horrible.
All the actors seemed to phone it in (maybe they were too comfortable with each other) and I think the only reason they made a third one was to redeem themselves for this travesty (which they did).
The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2
Harvesting dinosaurs from DNA found in insects in fossilized amber, then placing those dinosaurs on an island for tourists to visit, is an awesomely original idea and an even greater movie. Taking those same dinosaurs and letting them loose in downtown LA is just outlandish enough to ruin the entire concept. Even the third film, which had absolutely no plot (or overall reason to be made) was better than this one because they returned to the island in the third film. As an audience, there's a limit to the amount of bullshit we can accept, and sometimes, a movie premise exceeds it's bullshit-acceptability level when it is expanded to a sequel.
It is our duty to call out that bullshit.
(Interesting note: Julianne Moore, an excellent, gorgeous actress, makes her second appearance on this list [Hannibal, Lost World]; both times, she did not appear in the original.)
So that's all I came up with. I was thinking about doing the best sequels, but it's much more fun to talk about the failures.
Are there any sequels that really disappointed you? Which sequels do you think are the worst? Share them with me, because as much as I deride them, I love every minute of these horrible wastes-of-time!
P.S. Remember, the original had to be a good movie, so no Staying Alive: Saturday Night Fever 2 or Grease 2; if you think those originals are good, your opinion should never be made public...
I Love You All...Class Dismissed.