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
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