Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Am Okay With / Not Okay With: Ill-Advised Sequels Edition.

I mean, in all honesty, most sequels are ill-advised: there did not, no matter what anyone says, need to be 3 Pirates of the Caribbean movies. (Or 97 Land Before Times.) Not only are sequels incredibly difficult to write, even at the level of basic plot construction (unless the original was based on a serial story, à la Spiderman), but to make matters worse, most studios will hire an entirely different writer/director/lead actor & then just throw a dumptruck's worth of money at the project, pasting over heinous gaps by crowbarring in as many groan-worthy references to the original as humanly possible. So now, just for fun, Hollywood has decided to fuck with two of my very favorite movies—which, so the irony goes, were favorites because they were part of the dying breed that is the skillfully written, autonomous comedy. Without further ado, today's contenders are:

Yes, dear Reader, today's choice is a tough one (both of these sound really, depressingly bad), but in an effort to inject my life with a little positivity, I'm forcing myself to decide which one I hate slightly less. So, in one corner, we have a Mean Girls sequel—or, as I would prefer it titled, Mean & Meanerer: Clichés Gone Wild—which, at the moment, includes cast members from the 10 Things I Hate About You TV mishap, a director whose only work of note is a nameless acting part in Clockstoppers (or, her one episode of Lipstick Jungle), & a plot involving friendship incentivized by college tuition. In the opposing corner, of course, sits a continuation of School of Rock—a movie that not only needs no continuation, but which, in fact, stopped exactly at the moment before the joke got old. Really, within the minute. (The joke, of course, being that Jack Black plays himself, as usual—or, that children can act & sometimes play musical instruments.) Even that improvised AC/DC credits sequence was bordering on bad; it was artfully fade-to-blacked & then some. Also, the day I see a movie with "America Rocks" in the title—Schoolhouse Rock callback though it may be—is the day I hang myself.

So, which upcoming sequel inspires slightly less despair? Survey says...

I Am Okay With: School of Rock 2: In Case You Forgot How Jack Black Is.

... But just barely. & only because it has one potential saving grace: it's actually being written by Mike White. Which by no means guarantees its success; I remain of a mind that School of Rock is necessarily sequel-less, & that anything anyone tries, even if they were to seance in Billy fucking Wilder, will be hopelessly awkward & unfortunate. That said, at least they've had the decency to put Mike White in charge: he singlehandedly thought of & wrote the original as a vehicle for his friend & neighbor Jack Black (no surprises there...), so if anyone could come up with a mildly passable script, it would probably be the cross-dressing, blood-sucking incubus from Maggotdeath (that is, him). Also, Richard Linklater—AKA, genius upon genius, stewed in a genius-y broth—will be returning to direct, rumor has it. So, I mean, yes, fine, if they can really reassemble the original White-Black-Linklater (one of these things is not like the other...) team, then at least the movie has a prayer.

Still, with altogether different kids & a premise that involves road-tripping across America for God knows what reason—coupled with the fact that everyone was okay with ending the original story as it was—the future of this film continues to ride the tightrope between "iffy" & "complete fucking disaster that drives Anneliese into a pit of deep, existential darkness, from which she can emerge only to wring the pillowcase of her tears, shake her fists at the heavens & cry Is nothing sacred????" Yeah, somewhere in there.

I Am Not Okay With: Mean Girls 2: Straight to DVD Edition.

(Dear God. Where do we even start? I'm actually dumbfounded—dumbfounded, I say!—by how depressing the thought of this movie is. I guess I'll start with everyone's favorite safe bet: the Wild Generalization.)

Perhaps the greatest sequel flaw—one that has been repeated time & time again, it seems—is the failure of various filmmakers to understand what was great about their movie in the first place, thus causing them to reprise or heighten stupid, inconsequential aspects while losing entirely the flair that made you love the concept at all. (I will never forgive you, Jerry Bruckheimer.) You'll find this phenomenon recurrent in most artists who elaborate on (or even talk about) their own product—& rightly, as it's often difficult to predict/gauge audience reaction. However, you'd think that these movie moguls do enough focus-grouping / read enough reviews / generally get enough feedback on their endeavors that they would understand how to glean the Good factor off a movie for insertion into its sequel. I mean, I understand that Hollywood is a money-making business at its core, but sometimes it's just too depressing to witness the entertainment-bereft depths to which they'll sink for a quick buck from the lowest common denominator.

One such plunge is this upcoming Mean Girls project. Because the absolute last thing that made the first Mean Girls great was its core subject matter; popular girls—even in the traditional, appearance-driven tripod clique—have been getting their comeuppance since the late 80s. What made Mean Girls special was the witty modern approach, the offbeat humor that still somehow rang true with today's teenagers; it was fresh, it was hilarious, & now those who longed for some sort of reprisal are left with low budgets & inexperience—hackneyed references & sad graspings back at the original writer's former glory.

To make matters worse: while it's not explicit in any of the announcement articles that the project will go straight to DVD, the production experience of the cast & crew essentially speaks for itself: The Naked Brothers Band: Nickelodeon's Creepiest-Sounding Show for the director, & Camp Rock: Disney's Singlehanded Poisoning of an Entire Generation Against Actual Music for its star. (Also, as I think I already mentioned, the abysmal nose-dive of a rip-off series 10 Things I Hate About You will be contributing several cast-offs.) In any event, the "V" next to its title on IMDb is a pretty sure bet; we can all look forward to seeing this in the bargain bin in our local CVS is a year or so. Poor Tina Fey—I weep for you today, my lady.

Ugh. No fun, my babe, no fun—that's for sure. Speaking of music, before we move on to the next section, let's all cleanse our mental palettes with the greatest news headline ever, ever, ever, shall we?

Also, this:

Much better. Now...

Today's Headphone Fodder:

All of the Gaga brouhaha (& this. This, too.) around the house lately has got me in a bit of a crap pop funk—doomed to dull my soul along to the poorly rolled Rs of Alejandrrro forevermore—until I re-found this stashed away in my iTunes.

Here's some paradoxical reasoning for you: because I hate the song Telephone so much, I desperately want you to hear this remixed mash-up. See, this track is incredible—truly—& the fact that it was created from such depressingly threadbare material is a feat among feats. The telephone noises, the Metallica (which fits perfectly), the pulse-throbbing beats... It's one of the most fantastically danceable songs I've heard in a long, long time—& so well done on this DJ's part. (Give it until at least the first post-chorus to kick in all the way...)

1 comment:

  1. I'm obsessed with reading this blog. And the fact that you wrote it. And on and on.