In a cinematic landscape where every studio is falling over itself to find more already existing IP to make new movies out of, it’s almost rare for films that feature standalone, original screenplays to even get made. In 2019 (the last year that we have accurate data on without COVID-19 restrictions skewing theatrical releases), every film in the top ten highest grossing films worldwide was either a sequel or reboot, and that pattern pretty much held steady throughout the 2010s.
Which is why it’s so perplexing that there are so many successful, hilarious comedies out there that are sitting around without a sequel lined up. Granted, there’s some calculus involved — there’s no point in releasing a sequel to a comedy well after the moment has passed (“Anchorman 2”, we’re looking at you.) But it’s a mystery why filmmakers haven’t yet gone back to the well on some of these films. After all, there’s at least one person working at every studio whose entire job is capitalizing on the success of an unexpected comedic hit and running it into the ground. Well, maybe that’s cynical. While some comedy sequels are a clear cash grab, there are plenty of others that genuinely deserve a follow up.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
When it comes to comedic scamps from the ’80s Ferris Bueller and his friends are pretty much iconic. But there’s an interesting vibe to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when you watch it now. It hasn’t aged badly, per se, and it’s certainly not offensive. It’s just that seeing Ferris Bueller as an entitled man with unearned confidence running around Chicago doing whatever he wants and facing absolutely zero consequences is maybe less charming now than it was three and a half decades ago.
That said, there’s definitely space for a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” sequel, although John Hughes didn’t really want one. It could star Matthew Broderick as a much-older Ferris, a failed businessman who is dealing with the crippling disappointment of being told for the first time in his life that just because he’s charming doesn’t mean that he deserves special treatment. He reconnects with Sloane (Mia Sara), who is shocked to see exactly how much Ferris is stuck in the past, reliving the glory days of high school. Honestly, it writes itself.
We’ve been expecting a sequel to “Beetlejuice” for so long that it sort of feels like we’re in that hellish waiting room from the actual film. The beloved horror comedy has been charming audiences since the ’80s and has spawned both a popular animated children’s show and a 2018 musical, but the cinematic landscape for a sequel has been relatively barren.
Conversations have been happening about a follow-up film since the first one came out: In 1990, Tim Burton shopped around a film called “Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian” which had the initial cast on board, but was shelved when he became involved in the Batman series. Efforts to revive it were unsuccessful. In 2011, Seth Grahame-Smith was hired to write a script for a potential “Beetlejuice” sequel, which never came to fruition. And in the years since, both Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder have expressed interest in reprising their roles. But sadly, despite another effort in 2017 to get a sequel off the ground, Warner Bros confirmed in 2019 that it had once again been set to the side.
Ok, so it’s still early days on this one. The original movie only came out a couple of years ago, so there is actually plenty of time for director Olivia Wilde and stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever to get back together to film a sequel to “Booksmart.” After all, the original captured the incredibly relatable feeling of graduating from high school, only to realize that you missed out on the romanticized high school experiences that you see in all the movies. There’s nothing saying that Wilde and crew couldn’t do the same thing for college.
There’s plenty there to explore, especially considering that most college films tend to fall into the sex comedy genre, rather than showing what it’s actually like to go to a university. Only potential problem: Wilde, Dever, and Feldstein all appear to have extremely busy dance cards at the moment, making it difficult to foresee them finding time to make this happen. At least they have a title ready: “Booksmarter.”
“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” For a film full of such pearls of wisdom (as well as an absolutely stacked cast), it’s honestly shocking that there hasn’t been a sequel to “Dodgeball” yet. Not for lack of trying, though: In 2013, Ben Stiller’s production company hired a writer to pen a sequel script, although nothing ever came of it. The closest thing we’ve gotten is a reunion video from 2017 to raise money for the Stiller Foundation.
But we can still hold out hope, because there are so many potential sequel storylines to explore. It’s always fun to see an underdog team struggle to replicate their success, which would certainly be the case for the Average Joes. Maybe they could get the group back together, and White Goodman sends his son to infiltrate the team? Maybe we do a Steve the Pirate prequel? Look, we’re just trying to get the conversation going.
If there’s a single reason in the universe why it wouldn’t be a good idea to see more of the most engaging comedic performances from Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, we’d love to hear it. The shenanigans of the original game night may have drawn to a close, but that doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be future game nights that get just as out of hand. Or better yet, someone could create a “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”-style scenario that shows the same night from the eyes of Gary Kingsbury (Jesse Plemons, undoubtedly the runaway star of the show), the well-intentioned but deeply strange neighbor who gets caught up in the game night antics with disastrous results.
It’s possible that the fact that “Game Night” slowly accumulated audience good will rather than being a hit right out of the gate prevented it from being immediately concerned for a sequel. But since it came out, “Game Night” has earned plenty of fans, many of whom would love to see the film revisited (the film’s screenwriter is game, too).
In the late ’90s, fans of “Clueless” were treated to a television spin-off that revolved around the further exploits of Cher Horowitz in Beverly Hills and featured many of the original actors, but we’ve never gotten an honest-to-goodness sequel. That’s not particularly surprising, since the source material (Jane Austen’s “Emma”) doesn’t exactly have a follow-up. But come on, there have to be people out there wondering if Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Josh (Paul Rudd), those two crazy kids, end up making it long term, even if there are some vaguely awkward family reasons why they shouldn’t. (But hey, they’re not actually related!)
Interestingly enough, although there aren’t any plans for a film sequel, Peacock was developing a reboot series that would revolve around not Cher, but her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash). It would’ve modernized the story, creating something more in line with “Gossip Girl” than the light-hearted original. Unfortunately, Peacock passed on the project.
Kate & Leopold
“Kate & Leopold” seems like it has a happy ending. Leopold (Hugh Jackman) returns to the past (they do need him there, it turns out, to invent the elevator, among other things), and Kate (Meg Ryan) makes the decision to jump through the same portal and join him in the 1800s, saying goodbye to the 21st century forever. Who can blame her? But it only takes a minute or two of time before the reality of the situation begins to set in. What on earth is Kate going to do in the 1800s?
She’s a street smart, independent career woman, and she’s just signed her life away to go live in a time where she can’t vote or open a bank account, at least not without her husband’s permission. It feels a little depressing, but it also might be the perfect chance for some comedic hijinks. We’ve done the whole fish out of water thing with Leopold in the future, now it’s time to recreate the magic with Kate in the past. Will she get a job as a librarian, slowly growing to resent Leopold for stealing her opportunities? The comic possibilities are endless!
What We Do In The Shadows
Yes, “What We Do in the Shadows” now has two popular TV spin-offs (the American “What We Do in the Shadows” and New Zealand’s “Wellington Paranormal”) that both continue its story. But they’re not quite the same as Taiki Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s charming low-budget vampire mockumentary. After all, these vampires are going to be around pretty much forever (barring any unforeseen sunlight-related incidents) so there’s plenty of ground to potentially cover.
While it would be interesting to see a follow up film of “What We Do in the Shadows”, it might be even more fun for them to make a prequel as a period comedy. They just need to pick a time period that would best allow them to milk the concept for all its worth. Of course, a few years ago, director Taika Waititi floated a different idea: a sequel called “We’re Wolves,” which focuses on the vampire’s lycanthrope rivals. We hope it gets made on the basis of that title alone.
We can probably all agree that it’s well past time for Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig to team up again. She does some of her best work with the director, and never is that more clear than in the underrated comedy “Spy.” In it, McCarthy plays a CIA analyst who is thrown into the field unexpectedly and is forced to learn on her feet in order to avert a global crisis involving a portable nuclear device.
McCarthy embraces the physical comedy of the role (the outrageous disguises! the pratfalls!), but also gradually develops in both competence and confidence over the course of the film. Although this specific mission is wrapped up by the time the credits roll, it’s really just the beginning of her character’s career as a spy, and there’s nothing saying she couldn’t make a sequel featuring Susan on another wild, jet-setting adventure through Europe. (Bonus points if the writers find a way to bring back Rose Byrne, who is perfectly suited to this sort of comedy.)
“Dave” was born out of a general atmosphere of Clinton-era optimism, the idea that an empathetic, hard-working man in the White House could cut through the red tape of Washington and accomplish things that would actually benefit the American people. We live in a much more cynical world now, as “Dave” and “The West Wing” give way to darker satires like “Veep,” which detail politics’ more cold-hearted nature. So, it’s an interesting thought exercise to try to figure out what a “Dave” of the current day would look like.
When we last left the actor and budding politician, he (Kevin Kline) had stepped down from his role of pretending to be the president, leaving the door open for the morally upright vice president to take office, and was in the middle of a campaign for local office. If Dave rises through the ranks in a more conventional way, rather than just moonwalking into the White House by serving as a stand-in after the president suffers a debilitating stroke, would he be susceptible to the same temptations every other political figure faces? Or would he maintain his integrity in the face of an increasingly divisive political climate? Food for thought, folks.
Considering that the ’80s were packed full of family-friendly action adventures, the fact that no one ever attempted to make a sequel to a film as successful and universally adored as “The Goonies” feels like a missed opportunity. Their story wraps up with the kids finding a lost treasure, giving them a chance to save their family homes and, by extension, their community. But although this particular adventure comes to a natural close, there’s no reason why the gang of Goonies couldn’t come back in a year or two for other hijinks.
Apparently, Spielberg and the others attached considered that it would be difficult to meet the high bar of the first film, although that’s never stopped makers of a sequel before — and with the possible exception of Corey Feldman, none of the kids were so in-demand that they couldn’t be brought back on board. It’s not like studios in the ’80s were particularly resistant to sequels, either. More recently, Richard Donner teased a sequel featuring the original cast and their characters’ kids in 2014 (hopefully with some of the original film’s insensitive stereotypes getting a much-needed update), and there were rumblings that a direct-to-video follow-up was in the plans. Neither of those happened.
School Of Rock
There are few comedies more universally appealing than “School of Rock.” It’s a classic tale about an underachieving rocker who finds a sense of purpose while teaching a bunch of gifted but repressed prep school kids how to be rock stars. And although there was a kids’ show that built out the era immediately following “School of Rock,” let’s be real, without Jack Black as Dewey Finn, what are we even doing here?
It would have been cool to see the kids of “School of Rock” a few years later, still performing together, but with cracks starting to emerge beneath the surface. Maybe they don’t want to be tied to a gimmicky kid act. Maybe they want to strike out on their own and experiment with a different musical style. Maybe, at the end of the day, they’ve just decided that their heart isn’t in music anymore.
Shortly after the first film came out, screenwriter Mike White wrote a screenplay featuring the original crew, including Black’s character, embarking on a road trip to learn more about American rock and roll, but Black said that the creative team ultimately didn’t agree on the direction for the sequel, likely dooming the project.
Love Potion No. 9
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: If the sequel to “Love Potion No. 9” isn’t called “Love Potion No. 10”, there’s no point in doing it at all. But otherwise, it might be fun to explore where the relationship between Sandra Bullock and Tate Donovan goes. “Love Potion No. 9” is a fantasy rom-com about two shy, awkward scientists who discover the mysterious properties of a chemical that makes the user incredibly attractive to anyone they speak to. Naturally, they both shamefully abuse it (under the guise of acting as “human subjects”), but also grow in confidence and begin to fall in love with each other.
Nearly 30 years have gone by since the film was released (to, admittedly, fairly poor reviews). Perhaps it’s time to check in on the two lovebirds. Maybe their looming middle age makes them more insecure, leading one or both of them to try to use the love potion again, with potentially disastrous side effects? Really, the crux of this is that Tate Donovan and Sandra Bullock absolutely need to star in another movie together.
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Author: Audrey Fox
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October 14, 2021