Two Isn’t Always Better Than One: When Sequels Go Wrong
By Gabrielle Sirois
Some stories are meant to be told continuously over the span of multiple movies, and some stories are only meant to be told in one. Things get messy when we try to turn the latter stories into the former. Often times when a movie becomes popular, executives look for any way to make more of a profit off of it, even if it means making a sequel when there is no more story to tell. This can leave us with movies that don’t really build on or add any value to the original movie. Here are just some of the examples of sequels that really just didn’t need to be made.
1. Mean Girls 2
There is a reason that the original Mean Girls is as popular as it is today. It starred some of the most popular actresses of their time and was written by Tina Fey, an extremely well-known comedian. On top of that, it was produced by Lorne Michaels, the man behind Saturday Night Live. It is no surprise that with the brain and star power behind it, Mean Girls was able to captivate audiences with its smart and witty humor. It still remains popular and feels fresh to this day, 14 years after its initial release.
Mean Girls 2 was produced as a made for TV movie and released on ABC Family in 2011. I’m not really sure if it can really even be classified as a sequel considering it doesn’t have any actual connections to the original film other than the fact that it takes place at the same high school. The film itself plays like a low-budget remake of the original that lacks all of the talent, humor and charm that made Mean Girls so successful. Predictably, it was not met with good reviews.
2. Any Disney Sequel
Disney movies are a staple of most people’s childhoods. I know there are a lot of people out there that do enjoy the Disney sequels, but the truth is none of them hold a candle to their predecessors. They don’t really take away any value from the original movies since most of them were released straight to DVD, and not actually watched by many people. That being said they don’t really add any value to the original storylines either, which is why they are on this list.
3. Pitch Perfect 2 & 3
The original Pitch Perfect was a sleeper hit. I don’t remember seeing any ads for it on TV or at the movies before it came out. I hadn’t even heard of it until after it came out and my sister suggested that we rent it to watch. After that, however, it suddenly seemed to be everywhere. Everyone was talking about it, listening to the soundtrack and singing the songs at school. My choir even attempted to hold our own riff-off (which ultimately failed) because we loved the movie so much. It had something for everyone: great music, dancing and comedy. Although it was none of its leads first movie role, it did seem to be what launched them all into stardom and made them the big names they are today.
With the Pitch Perfect sequels, it isn’t so much that they didn’t need to be made, its more that they shouldn’t have been made the way they were. When Pitch Perfect 2 was announced, everyone was excited. The first movie had ended in the perfect way to set up a sequel, there were so many possibilities of where the story could go following the first film. My friends and I got tickets to see it the week it was released. However, when we saw the movie, it just didn’t live up to our expectations. It wasn’t horrible, but they could have taken it in so many different, better directions. It had all of the potential and opportunity to be great, but that was all squandered. Overall, the music wasn’t as good as the original, the plot was strange, and the writing and comedy just weren’t where they should have been.
There isn’t really anything to say about Pitch Perfect 3 other than it was flat out not good and shouldn’t have been made at all.
4. Grease 2
I am going to start this off by saying that I actually love Grease 2 (unpopular opinion, I know). Yes, I know it is cheesy, but I think it is fun and I actually do like the songs. Despite that, there is no denying that it is an awful sequel. Much like Mean Girls 2, I don’t really think it can be considered a sequel because it doesn’t attempt to carry on the story from the original movie at all. It attempts to make a connection to the first movie by making the leading man, Michael, Sandy’s cousin and by keeping the character of Frenchy from the first film. Other than that there is no mention of the events of the original film.
For a movie as popular as Grease, when you announce a sequel, people are going to expect and want to see the story of all of their favorite characters continued. Since Grease 2 made no attempt to do this, I had to put it on this list. I personally think it should be categorized as a Grease companion film, and it probably would have been better if it had been marketed as such, rather than as a sequel.
5. Jaws and Jurassic Park Sequels
I’ve lumped Jaws and Jurassic Park together for two reasons. The first being that they are very similar movies. They are both monster(ish) attack thrillers directed by Steven Speilberg. They both had profound impacts on the film industry, and are widely regarded as two of the greatest movies of all time.
The second reason that I have lumped them together, is because I view their sequels in exactly the same way. There are only so many time times you can fight the same monster before it starts to get old, and I think in the case of both of these movies, one time is perfect. All sequel attempts for both of these films seem stale because it feels like you are just watching the same story over and over again, except worse. The original films were so great because everything was new and you didn’t know what was going to happen next or how things were going to end. With the sequels, you pretty much already know what is going to happen because of the original film, so you lose that sense of excitement and suspense that drew viewers into the original films.
Overall, when a sequel is done well it builds upon the original story in a way that is meaningful. It adds dimension and value to the original film. Sequels should only be made if there is still story left to tell, not just to profit off an existing movie.