The hills are alive with the sound of se­quels

Wel­come to a world of trapped Von Trapps and crit­ics not Gaga for a drug-crazed Casablanca, writes TONY JACK­MAN

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

SE­QUELS are bad clones of an orig­i­nal movie, with few ex­cep­tions. As a gen­eral rule of thumb, if a film ti­tle is fol­lowed by a “2” and a “:”, like Babe 2: You’re Ba­con, run a mile. Which is what most sen­si­ble Amer­i­cans did this week on hear­ing that two film com­pa­nies want to make a se­quel to It’s a Won­der­ful Life, the 1946 Frank Capra clas­sic that’s been a Christ­mas sea­son favourite ever since.

The orig­i­nal movie stars James (Jimmy) Stewart as Ge­orge Bai­ley, a fam­ily man who is on the verge of com­mit­ting sui­cide when his guardian an­gel shows him what life would have been like in his small town if he had never been born. It’s so feel-good that while you’re watch­ing it, can­dyfloss seeps out of your TV, your cat’s fur as­sumes a neon glow, and snowflakes fall from the ceil­ing to ca­ress your cheek. It’s pure schmaltz, and it’s won­der­ful.

Now two pro­duc­tion houses have an­nounced their plan for a se­quel, It’s a Won­der­ful Life: The Rest of the Story, which would be about Bai­ley’s un­like­able grand­son.

There fol­lowed, in the cy­ber world, a ca­coph­ony of an­guished screams and splut­ter­ings, from tweets such as, “Maybe Ge­orge Bai­ley should have killed him­self af­ter all”, to “Stop mess­ing with clas­sics, peo­ple! What’s next? Gone With the Wind 2?”

Don’t laugh. Rather weep. There are plenty of peo­ple in Hol­ly­wood mad enough to do it (there was in fact a TV se­quel to Gone With the Wind some years ago).

Here’s how I reckon it could work. In Gone With the Wind 2: Re­turn to Tara, the de­scen­dants of Scar­let O’Hara would re­build the old fam­ily pile in a dis­as­ter film di­rected by James Cameron and fea­tur­ing a theme song sung by Ce­line Dion while the newly com­pleted Tara – a vic­tim of Hur­ri­cane Rhett – burned in the back­ground (again).

There is end­less scope for mak­ing schlock se­quels to fa­mous old movies.

In The Sound of Mu­sic 2: Es­cape From Waziris­tan, the sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Von Trapp fam­ily re­unite for a hol­i­day in Pak­istan, where they stray from their Thomp­sons pack­age tour group and are ab­ducted by the Tal­iban. In a des­per­ate video leaked to CNN, the fam­ily, clothed in rags made from the cur­tains of the moun­tain hut in which they are be­ing kept un­der armed guard, sing My Favourite Things, rewrit­ten to in­clude clues as to their where­abouts (“Rain­drops on samoosas and burqas on kit­tens”).

In Casablanca 2: Psychedelia Amer­i­cain, Rick Blaine’s son Jake (Johnny Depp) trav­els to Morocco in 1967 to take up his in­her­i­tance. He turns Rick’s Café Amer­i­cain into a den of drug deal­ing, il­licit sex and money laun­der­ing.

One day, of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, who should walk in but a woman who claims she’s the daugh­ter of Ilsa Lund (In­grid Bergman in the orig­i­nal). Lady Gaga gets ter­ri­ble re­views for her role, and the movie flops, as does her remix of Again Sam Eh Eh.

In Rebel With­out a Cause 2: Twerk Your Booty, MTV casts Justin Bieber to head­line a new teen se­ries about a

Play it real bad boy rebel pop star who spits on his fans from fourth-storey win­dows and is ar­rested for stalk­ing Mi­ley Cyrus. The se­ries is canned when the view­ers find the plot hack­neyed and, like, soooooo last year.

In Break­fast at Tif­fany’s 2: The Heist, Ni­co­las Cage bursts into the Fifth Av­enue New York store in an ar­moured tank, just as Holly Go­lightly’s grand­daugh­ter CharDonné is about to pocket a $4 000 Cartier neck­lace. The timely dis­trac­tion en­ables her to get away with her ran­dom shoplift­ing, and Cage swoops her up along with swathes of jewels be­fore storm­ing out and charg­ing the tank up Fifth Av­enue. There fol­lows an hour-and-ahalf of blood, gore and very noisy car, tank and he­li­copter chases. Honey Boo Boo fails to get the Os­car nom­i­na­tion she so des­per­ately wanted, but does get some rather un­flat­ter­ing com­par­isons with Au­drey Hep­burn’s role in the orig­i­nal.

If they are go­ing to make a se­quel to a good old-fash­ioned Christ­mas sea­son flick, maybe they should have cho­sen My Fair Lady, repris­ing (yes, Hep­burn’s) role as a gram­mar­chal­lenged Cock­ney girl who is taught how to speak the queen’s English by an iras­ci­ble pro­fes­sor.

Only, in My Fair Lady 2: Fade to Black, they set it in the mod­ern-day East End. A di­rec­tor who wears fin­ger­nail rings and has a tat­too of Sal­vador Dali’s Meta­mor­pho­sis of Nar­cis­sus on her fore­arm elects to make an erotic film noir, re-en­vis­ag­ing El­iza Doolit­tle (ac­tu­ally played by El­iza Doolit­tle, the singer) as a street waif who is bought from hu­man traf­fick­ers by a scrag­gly-haired, wily old vagabond who en­slaves her and forces her to beg on the streets for him.

Ac­tu­ally, I think that’s the plot of Oliver Twist. What­ever.

WHAT”S NEXT? Two stu­dios are con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a se­quel to the clas­sic Christ­mas film It’s A Won­der­ful Life – which makes one think about other pos­si­bil­i­ties.

RAIN­DROPS ON SAMOOSAS: A se­quel of The Sound of Mu­sic might see the Von Trapp fam­ily singing their way out of the Tal­iban’s clutches

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