Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Question Follow-Up: More Sequels

I really liked Thaddeus’s picks in Thursday’s QftW about sequels, and I couldn’t resist chiming in with a few of my own picks.

Zero Effect – Since Thaddeus loves this film as much as I do, I was surprised it didn’t make his list. Given the big resurgence of Sherlock Holmes stories and variants in the past decade, I'd be more interested to see Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller, and Kim Dickens back together than to see Nick Rowe of Young Sherlock Holmes return. Zero Effect might be one of the worst-marketed films of all time. The trailer:

Made it look like Stiller is the film’s star, and Pullman’s Darryl Zero is some sort of idiot or idiot savant doing a Dumb and Dumber-style performance, when Pullman’s performance and the detective story being told are both much less wacky than we're led to believe. Then again, Zero Effect also had bad timing: when the film was released in January 1998, Stiller was up-and-coming; based on Independence Day and While You Were Sleeping, Pullman was probably a bigger star at the time. In July, There’s Something About Mary came out, making Stiller a super-duper megastar, too late to help Zero Effect’s box office and likely killing any chance of him revisiting the indie detective comedy in the future.

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Probably the best film of 2003,1 M&C was based on the first two books of a 20-book series by Patrick O'Brian. The film even had a subtitle that seemed to promise sequels, but apparently, making any movie that is set on the water is brutally expensive. It’s a shame, since Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany played gorgeously off each other--a 19th Century Kirk and Spock. Part of my regret was that M&C was the end of Crowe’s peak as a great actor. Around this time, Russell's reputation as an on-set pain in the backside and off-set tabloid fodder began to overwhelm his reputation as a perennial Oscar contender.

My Cousin Vinny – Not only is this one of the best films about the law, ever, it always shocked me that after Joe Pesci and Marissa Tomei showed enough chemistry to win Tomei a frickin' Oscar, no one managed to pair them up again. The film made its budget back five times over, so it’s hard to believe that this wasn’t a profitable enough idea to try again. Individually, director Jonathan Lynn (Clue, Nuns on the Run, The Distinguished Gentleman) and writer Dale Launer (Ruthless People, Blind Date, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) made some interesting comedies in the mid-80s and early 90s, but they don’t seem to have worked together again, either. According to Launer, the reason there wasn’t a sequel was because Tomei walked away from it after winning the Oscar. Given that her career wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire between Vinny and 2001’s In the Bedroom, that wasn’t a great idea.

The Patriot -- I don't actually want a sequel to Roland Emmerich's Revolutionary War movie. However, after Braveheart featured Mel Gibson as a legendary Scottish leader fighting the British, and this movie featured him as a lightly fictionalized Revolutionary War hero fighting the British, I felt like Gibson needed one last movie as a heroic figure standing up to the British to complete a trilogy—kind of a spiritual sequel. If you start thinking about historic figures successfully standing up against the British, you can see that there’s only one way we could cap off this saga. That’s right, I was hoping for Mel Gibson’s Gandhi. With Gibson directing himself in a more action-centered version of the famed nonviolence proponent’s life story, the tagline “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” would stop being an admonition and would instead become an awful promise.
It's a logical progression...

1 In previous years, members of the Academy conspired around the idea that Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies should wait until the end of the series to receive Best Picture recognition, resulting in an Oscar win for Return of the King. RotK, while it was a film I love, was the worst and least-disciplined film of the series. Without special consideration for Jackson's film, M&C would've faced a field containing Mystic River, Lost In Translation, and Seabiscuit. Of the films not nominated, the only one that would've challenged M&C (in my humble opinion) would've been Fernando Mereilles' City of God.


  1. DJ, I read this last night before I went to sleep. This is a great post! It's also quite funny. Your picks are excellent, and I agree that Crowe was more of an actor around the time of M&C.

    It might've been a bit of a stretch vis-a-vis my own post and including Aliens, etc, but the promise of those series collapsed into dismal failure. There should be more ignominy tied to those projects (though Fincher was just boned by the studio, I know).

    Zero Effect - Way to hoist me on my own petard, man! That movie is phenomenal, and I would love to have seen a sequel. Actually, we must have some weird synchronicity thing going on as I looked at the entry for ZE just the other day and I decided I want to do a double-dip for it. It deserves so much love!

    1. Thanks. I would love to see a more in-depth review of Zero Effect--it's one of those movies I consider "genius films" where they're really smart and eccentric, and out of line with what's in theaters at the time.


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