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Comedy Sequels: The Few Good, The Plentiful Bad & The Genuinely Weird

Comedy Sequels: The Few Good, The Plentiful Bad & The Genuinely Weird

With the release of “Grown Ups 2” this weekend (review here), Adam Sandler enters rare territory: this is the first-ever sequel for quite possibly the most bankable comedic personality of his generation. Other actors would have found a way to continue the saga of “The Waterboy” or allowed a triumphant return for “Happy Gilmore,” but Sandler, until recently, has built his career on savvy choices and (debatably) original characters and stories.

Of course, maybe Sandler realized the real truth: the history of comedy sequels is pretty disappointing, and in some cases horrifying. Everyone wants the band to get back together after a successful first film. But unlike in action, sci-fi or standard dramas, you can watch a comedy sequel and understand that the only reason anyone returned was for the cash. Comedies rely on their power to surprise, with audiences laughing at the unexpected but the idea of a comedy sequel is practically an announcement that “You Will Laugh!” Not exactly a charming recipe for entertainment.

At The Playlist, we wanted to compile a list of strong comedy follow-ups, limiting it to part II’s. But the pickings were so slim, and the number of outwardly terrible comedy sequels was so intimidating, that we decided to balance it out. On another level, there were a series of comedy sequels that just seemed strange, with no real purpose to exist, that were terrible in all new ways, or used the story of the first film as a Trojan horse to take audiences to a bizarre, totally surprising different place. There’s the sense that Hollywood still hasn’t solved the “formula” of a comedy sequel, but perhaps it’s for the best: sometimes you need a “Zapped Again!” to appreciate the good stuff.

Here are five good ones, with good in some cases being a generous term…

“A Shot In The Dark”
The “Pink Panther” series has undergone several permutations, but few know that “A Shot In The Dark,” the second film in the series following “The Pink Panther,” was never intended to feature the audience favorite Inspector Clouseau. The first film was actually designed around David Niven’s cunning thief, who attempted to steal the Pink Panther diamond that guided the plot. However, Peter Sellers’ bumbling inspector won favor so strongly with director Blake Edwards that he and William Peter Blatty re-wrote the stage play “L’Idiote” to accommodate him, placing Clouseau in the middle of a murder mystery where he was the main character. “A Shot In The Dark” helped set the table for all the elements of the “Pink Panther” series we know today, including his violent man-servant Kato and the near-homicidally angry boss, Commissioner Dreyfus. While Sellers was more of a straight man to Niven’s antics in the first film, he is front and center in this sequel, and Sellers’ is less hammy (as Steve Martin was in the latter-day “The Pink Panther”) and less imbecilic (as Roberto Benigni is in “Son Of The Pink Panther”) than he is endlessly distracted, a man lost in his own head. Like all great Sellers performances, it’s distinctly him, but you can also see shades of Chauncey Gardener in “Being There” in Sellers’ Clouseau, who would inevitably become a bit broader over a series of sequels.

“Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey”Even fans of “Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure” would have to admit that Stephen Herek’s surprise hit comedy felt like more of a fluke. The charm of Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as the brain-dead teenage duo who just wanted to “party on” carried that film a long way, buttressing the wackiness of a ludicrous time travel plot with a dollop of lunkheaded sweetness. Finding an excuse to get the pair back into the phone booth would have just seemed strained, but somehow, Peter Hewitt’s gonzo follow-up manages to maintain the charm of the first effort while going even weirder. The set-up is fairly flimsy, involving a villain from the future returning to the past to kill the duo before their rock saves the universe. It’s after Bill and Ted are actually killed when the film begins to showcase it’s naughty wit, allowing for an extended riff on “The Seventh Seal.” Instead of chess, Bill and Ted clash with an evil Death (William Sadler) in a series of board game matches that represent only a portion of their underworld journey back to the land of the living. While the original film benefitted from moving the spotlight away from Winter and Reeves to emphasize a cast of various time travelers, here the emphasis is on the chemistry of Reeves and Winter, and while it doesn’t necessarily prove a case study of why these two were preferable to analog matches like Beavis and Butthead and Wayne and Garth, it still charms and entertains in equal doses.

“Hot Shots! Part Deux”
Most of the success of comedy sequels comes from a preference of gags over characters, so it’s no surprise that “Hot Shots! Part Deux” seems entirely divorced from the continuity of the first picture. While the first film was a nearly note-perfect mockery of “Top Gun” and macho eighties romances, the sequel uses the Gulf War as a jumping off point for a goof on the excessive, oiled-up Cannon-era fodder produced by superstars like Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris. Following the events of the first film, pilot Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) has retired to a monastery, which has not prevented him from developing a brutish action figure physique. This tips the audience off with the sly acknowledgement that these films pay insincere tribute to the idea of living in peace when the audience is there to see bloodshed, and that’s further emphasized by the amusing casting of “First Blood” star Richard Crenna as a kidnapped general. The best moments of ‘Part Deux,’ which can be argued as superior to the original, bring back the spirit of “Airplane!” coming from that film’s co-director Jim Abrahams. With a savvy topicality that today reminds us of the dubiousness of the early nineties Middle East conflict, it’s a sequel that never fears going silly enough to provide an action sequence with a running death toll, marking “Robocop” and “Rambo II” as benchmarks to pass in order to reach a certain violent legitimacy. Probably the very last gasp of the “Airplane!” gang, though the legacy they left was considerable.

“OSS 117: Lost In Rio”Before there was “The Artist” there was OSS 117,” a two-film series that teamed Oscar winners Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin. But even before there were these two films, there were a series of films in the ’50s and ’60s based upon novels by Jean Bruce. Considered to be a character similar to James Bond, the hero of Bruce’s 88 (!) “OSS 117” novels was a dashing, heroic French secret agent. But Hazanavicius and Dujardin opted to take the character on a different path, using “OSS 117” as a brand to explore an era-appropriate spy spoof that puts “Austin Powers” to shame. Looking like a young, dashing Sean Connery in a suit, Dujardin is a dim dreamboat who, fires first, and asks questions later, usually of a racist or sexist nature. The two films don’t lean on stereotypes as much as they explore certain biases held yesterday and today within this genre of films and of the spy genre’s own enabling of xenophobia and paternalism. The second film, which is slightly sillier and funnier than the earlier effort (though both are breezy summer viewing), involves OSS 117 battling his own hatred of Arab customs by teaming with the Mossad to bust an escaped Nazi scientist hiding out in 1950s Rio. Hazanavicius’ period details are immaculate, and Dujardin’s smiling, oblivious charm epitomize moviestar mystique even as he’s playing an idiot blowhard. 

“Back To The Future Part II”
No, the magic of the original picture can’t be replicated. But in shooting two back-to-back sequels to a landmark in eighties pop cinema, director Robert Zemeckis was really pushing the limits of what we knew to be the ingredients to a successful follow-up. While the first film balanced slapstick action with rose-colored nostalgia, the direct follow-up takes us into the distant future, where Marty must save his family line from intertwining with the villainous plots of the Biff Tannen family, his contemporary bully turned elderly suburban antagonist. The future sequences are carried by loads of smaller, more abstract gags (some of which are no longer funny due to their modern day accuracy), but the picture really takes off when it folds in on itself, and Marty lands back in 1955. In a gamble not seen before, Marty finds himself interacting with the events of the first film, almost as if he’s climbed back inside the narrative of the previous movie, all while trying to avoid his time-traveling counterpart. The picture doesn’t have the laughs of its predecessor (in fact, the laughs mostly take a backseat to the effects), but Zemeckis still keeps the pace whizzing by, creating a unique science fiction adventure that keeps commenting upon itself as the narrative spins into new, improbable directions.

HONORABLE MENTION:Going back into history, “Father’s Little Dividend” finds Spencer Tracy adding an extra gear to his exasperated dad act in “Father Of The Bride,” one that Steve Martin couldn’t find in the remake and its own sequel. “Addams Family Values” certainly has its fans, going darker and weirder than the first picture. One could argue “Jackass Number Two” outdoes the first film, though “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” suffers when compared to its own follow-up, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” While it’s not a patch on the original, there are a lot of laughs in “The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell Of Fear” to match some of the best of the Zucker-Abrahams body of work, while “In Like Flint” did the goofy swinging superspy thing decades before “Austin Powers.” And while we purposely excluded children’s films from the list, we’d be remiss in not mentioning the strange, wonderful “Babe: Pig In The City” being an unforgettably strange and sweet detour from the first movie.And here are ten terrible comedy sequels that prove it’s best to leave well enough alone:

“The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps”
Give Eddie an inch and he’ll take a mile. Remaking “The Nutty Professor” seemed like a smart idea creatively and financially, and it resulted in one of Eddie Murphy’s biggest and most well-liked hits. However, Murphy and his producers eventually realized that the audience responded strongest to the brief segments where Murphy played each member of the corpulent Klump family, and didn’t seem to realize that less was more. So began this spinoff sequel, which takes most of the focus off Murphy’s shy, overweight Sherman Klump and puts it instead on his flatulent brood. ‘The Klumps’ ends up being a flimsy excuse to continue this series, using Sherman’s new youth potion to allow the family members to go off on their own adventures while all sense and narrative cohesion goes out the window. ‘The Klumps’ is a textbook lazy sequel, not even beginning to come up with an excuse for how Sherman is now dating Janet Jackson’s fellow scientist without explaining what happened to the first film’s romantic pursuit (Jada Pinkett Smith). The over-reliance on painful slapstick, aided by the outlandish makeup on each member of the Klumps, led the film to become an item of mockery, even savagely skewered by a fake trailer in “Tropic Thunder” promising a similar film called, “The Fatties Fart Two.”

“Ghostbusters II”
Expectations could not have been higher for this follow-up to the 1984 comedy classic, but could anyone have expected the picture would be so openly opportunistic? “Ghostbusters II” opens with a complete retconning of the first film, where the citywide heroes have now been reduced to urban legends, sued for the property damage and reducing them to performing at birthday parties. This artificial story block is a transparent attempt to prolong what is essentially a one-film story, forcing the characters, who spent the first film establishing themselves, to have to prove their bonafides once again even if we know of what they’re capable. The film makes a spirited go of it in topping Zool from the first film, this time matching the ‘busters against the mighty Vigo, an ancient wizard who speaks to his minions through a painting. But it’s all mostly an exercise in brand extension, to the point where the Ghostbusters’ own logo inside the film mirrors the image in advertisements, featuring a ghost smiling and holding up two fingers, though what this signifies inside the film doesn’t seem clear. The new uniforms and proton pack modifications also seem overly toyetic, a tactic that promises double the amount of toys and merchandise sold, but matters very little to the story. And sorry, Bobby Brown, but your tunes are no match for Ray Parker Jr.’s classic Huey Lewis-jacking theme.

“Airplane II: The Sequel”
The Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams wisely jumped ship after “Airplane!” leaving the job of essaying the sequel to Ken Finkleman, who previously picked up some sloppy seconds by writing “Grease 2.” And the secondhand nature of the film seems to be no secret, as the rhythm and vibe that buoyed the first film just seems off. The humor here zings with more of a tacky Borscht Belt zaniness than the smart genre inversion of the first film, placing importance on adding the jokes into a story framework rather than creating an amusing, layered storyline. Back are star-crossed lovers Ted (Robert Hays) and Elanie (Julie Hagerty) but the picture’s manner of bringing them back together is a distraction due to a combination of being absurd and, intentionally, not a joke. It almost feels as if while “Airplane!” was a mockery of films like “Zero Hour!” “Airplane II” feels like one of those scripts of that era, retrofitted to allow for gags in between its ante-upping story involving a space shuttle launch in an attempt to outdo the original picture. Most of “Airplane II” seems to have no clue as to why audiences enjoyed the first film; the rest of it just feels like plane-related gags rejected from the first film for being too obvious.

“Be Cool”
If there’s any film that seems completely contradictory to its own title, it’s this square, lame, years-too-late follow-up to “Get Shorty.” Based on the book by Elmore Leonard, and filled with what feels like an accurate amount of side-characters and digressions, “Be Cool” is like a workshop in how one director (the first film’s Barry Sonnenfeld) understands comedy, while the other (F. Gary Gray pinch-hitting) just assumes it will all add up in post-production. The film now follows former mobster turned Hollywood producer Chili Palmer (a no-longer-hungry John Travolta) as he attempts to break into the music industry, slowly realizing it’s a similarly back-biting world of treachery and double-cross. Part of “Be Cool” is hindered by the restrictions of the PG-13 rating, pulling back where the first film could be fierce and filthy with language. Another is that the milieu seems far less attractive that the first film, with Palmer’s ingenue played by a charisma-less Christina Milian, destined to bellow shallow torch songs that the movie pretends are actually meaningful. “Be Cool” has a loaded cast of home run hitters, but most of them come across like they’re hamming it up in a “Saturday Night Live” skit; only Dwayne Johnson retains his dignity in a surprisingly-nuanced turn as a bodyguard who seeks stardom. But once he flashes The Rock’s signature eyebrow curl, it’s clear that “Be Cool” wants to insincerely make fun of the industry, but it also secretly loves it.

“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”
The excitement had reached fever peak as the second “Austin Powers” approached, as the first one had quietly become one of the most quoted films of its era despite a middling theatrical run. Credit the ad campaign, which memorably mocked “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace” while also, coincidentally, piggybacking on the resulting publicity of mocking George Lucas’ baby. Audiences were also primed for Mini-Me, an inspired-seeming creation that would follow Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil and silently mimic his behavior, an absurdist conceit that recalled Myers’ gonzo “Sprockets” sketches on “Saturday Night Live.” Unfortunately, the end product simply revealed what we knew all along: that the “Austin Powers” concept could barely hold up for half a movie, let alone the eventual trilogy. The gag of the first film was that the sixties were a “groovy” time for backwards politics, unclean living, and uninformed, reckless lifestyles, but the second film merely doubles down on that joke with a trip back to the era, where those gags are magnified and repeated. Varying degrees of repetition here: not only were Myers and director Jay Roach content with recycling the same exact punchlines and catch-phrases from the first film, but Myers readily plucked from his body of work on “Saturday Night Live,” revealing the one-time Peter Sellers wannabe as a guy with very little in his toolbox.“Caddyshack II”
Imagine if the studio announced they were putting the pieces together on “Anchorman 2,” but it was centered around a completely unrelated news team at the same Channel Four as the first picture. That’s essentially what happened when they opted to bring none of the gang back for “Caddyshack II,” instead figuring that director Allan Arkush (“Rock ’n’ Roll High School”) could make hay out of a cast that included Jackie Mason, Dan Aykroyd and Randy Quaid, figuring the golf-related jokes would carry the audience’s interest. The slobs vs. snobs parallels are still present, as “Caddyshack II” carries the feeling of a film that went through many different itinerations, with Mason ostensibly filling in for a once-thought-to-be-returning Rodney Dangerfield. The story carries on as such, with a war being fought to get the wealthy average Joe played by Mason into a membership slot, a scenario so dull they needed to bring back the gopher from the first film and actually allowing him to talk in order to fill screen time. While Chevy Chase is the single cast member that returns from the original, it’s telling that the lawless troublemaker of the first film is now the majority owner of the clubhouse: the geeks have inherited the penthouse, and no one is really minding the door. Famously, Chase was open about regretting his return trip to the ‘shack; considering Chase’s many dubious career choices, that’s saying something.  

“Arthur 2: On The Rocks”The best (read: worst) way to continue a story inorganically is to roll back all the character growth that occurred in part one. It’s why the end of “Arthur” seemed to suggest the titular drunk was turning over a new leaf and attempting to build a new life, but the sequel begins years later with no one worried he’s fallen back into drinking. Dudley Moore fits this role like a shoe, which is why it’s depressing to see him roll around and drawl through the part as he and his new wife (Liza Minelli) prepare to have a child. Seeking revenge, however, is Susan, the spurned lover of the first film (recast as Cynthia Sikes), and with her father, they scheme to wrangle Arthur’s inheritance from him. Our title character is now implausibly rendered homeless just as he’s attempting to prove to the adoption agency that he and his wife are a suitable couple. It’s a whole lot of rings to jump through in order to provide this film with a softer touch than the first film, a gesture that seems in-line with society’s growing worry about alcoholism as a disease, and not the charming attribute from the first film.  By the time the ghost of his old valet Hobson (Sir John Gielgud) appears to help get Arthur over his troubles, the film is very visibly running on fumes in an attempt to reach a suitable runtime.

“Meet The Fockers”

There’s a dulling inevitability to success of a contemporary film, in that the formula is about to resurface a few more times, and if the first film isn’t any good, they’ll be content with success and port the formula over for part two. Such is the case from most bottom-feeding studio comedies of this period, which is how “Meet The Fockers” somehow, for a brief time, became the highest grossing live action comedy in history. Chew on that for a moment. The sequel finds uptight patriarch Robert De Niro meeting the Focker folks, played by a free-loving Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand in performances that redefine shtick. What’s startling about “Meet The Fockers” is about how unadventurous it is, with Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) constantly finding humiliation from the interactions of daffy liberal Hoffman and ramrod-straight De Niro (not like there’s a real political divide of any type dividing these characters). In the seventies, if you said there would be a movie coming in thirty years starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, we’d think it was a slow burn must-see character piece. Once bright writer-director Tim Blake Nelson shows up in the final act in his day job as backwards yokel for big studio films, it’s clear this is as far from that hypothetical movie as you could get.

“The Hangover Part II”
“Get this… they get hung over again!” After the absurd success of the first film, it only makes sense that director Todd Phillips essentially walked into the Warner Bros. offices, shrugged, and presented an outline that would essentially mimic nearly every plot point from the first film. It’s an act of unusual, borderline amusing self-sabotage, and it would almost count as transgressive had it not worked so well, with the film outgrossing its predecessor. This time around, the Wolf Pack is in Bangkok for a wedding, only for childlike Alan (Zack Galifianakis) to drug them all again in an attempt at prompting Ubuntu between the group. What follows is yet another prolonged search for poor, missing Doug (Justin Bartha) while the film keeps hinting at a darker, more dangerous film that never manifests. By the time Phillips got to the nearly jokeless “The Hangover Part III” the revelation was that Phillips never cared for these characters in the first place, and the many motifs and characters inexplicably returning for this relocated second film suggest a director with little regard for his bankrollers or his audience. It’s too bad, because Phillips here is wasting a great trio of comedic performers, allowing them to go through the motions one more time for the sake of a paycheck, with nary an acting challenge in sight. Their pockets certainly got fatter, however, and that’s likely the lasting image anyone has of this sequel.

“Son Of The Mask”
Jim Carrey seemed to figure out the score after “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls,” bowing out of sequels to his most popular fare. The end result was only proof of his stardom: prequel “Dumb And Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” was quickly forgotten, while “Evan Almighty” was a tremendous financial sinkhole. But eleven years after “The Mask,” New Line Cinema got back on the horse with the ‘Mask’ mythology, crafting an unusually unpleasant, remarkably bizarre, ultimately artless endeavor. While the first film notably softened the original comic books’ madcap gruesome violence, “Son Of The Mask” goes even farther, grounding the story in family film territory with the tale of a mild-mannered cartoonist who gains possession of the mask, but must keep it out of the hands of flamboyant God of Mischief Loki (Alan Cumming). Non-entity Jamie Kennedy was such an underwhelming replacement for Carrey that they purposely kept the image of him in the mask out of ads, instead emphasizing sequences where the baby and family dog wear the mask and become horrifically-animated CGI monstrosities. “Son Of The Mask” piles through Tex Avery homages like a runaway train as Kennedy and Cumming attempt to out-mug each other in an effects tornado that reaches Dadaist levels of incoherence. Kennedy would later be so consumed with the negative reactions to the film (of which he is far from the worst element) that he would devote an entire portion of his documentary “Heckler” to insulting critics of the picture to their face, a silly tactic that nonetheless is likely the lasting legacy of this overbudgeted disaster.And here are five weird, unclassifiable ones…

“Gremlins 2: The New Batch”/”Son Of The Blob”/”C.H.U.D. 2: Bud The Chud”
It’s rare that a sequel changes genre from the original film, but it appears to have happened thrice here. Joe Dante infused the first “Gremlins” with a number of laughs, but it was primarily a beware-of-night scarefest first, and the little beasts of the title were fearsome buggers. Not so in the sequel, which violates the fourth wall frequently in allowing the critters to invade an entire skyscraper, wrecking all sorts of Looney Tunes-inspired damage all over the place. The menace remained, as Dante is one of the few geniuses at balancing horror and comedy, but this was a much lighter affair that blindsided audiences expecting differently. The picture thrives with a number of inspired comic performances and effects work, though moments when the gremlins tear through the actual physical film don’t exactly show consistency with the little-monster-story of  the first “Gremlins.” Meanwhile, the wacky Larry Hagman-directed (!) “Son Of The Blob” brings back the silly goop from the early Steve McQueen-starring vehicle in a film where an entire bumbling town of goofballs can’t help but fall face first into the slow-moving organic death-trap, quipping and joking all along the way. Finally, in “C.H.U.D. 2: Bud The Chud,” the politically-charged subterranean thrills of the first film give way to a wackier story where a single mutant cannibal wildly different than the beasts seen earlier (and played by Gerrit Graham?) forms a small army and par-tays, becoming buddy-buddy with a group of partyhound teens.

“Evan Almighty”
Because nothing is funnier than a Biblical flood! Overtures were made to Jim Carrey to reprise his role for a sequel to megahit “Bruce Almighty,” but when he turned down the opportunity, producers rushed to make a sequel that would in almost no way be recognized as a follow-up to the first film. “Bruce Almighty” did feature Steve Carell, who had since achieved leading man fame with “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” so the plan was to bring his minor newscaster back in a lead role. Now running for political office, Carell is struck by a bolt from God (Morgan Freeman), and told that only he can help rebuild civilization, building an ark to withstand a horrible flood that would wipe Washington DC off the planet. Somehow, no one blinked at the idea of an over-expensive ($200 million, reportedly) comedy in which millions of people died offscreen to prove a lead character’s visions were accurate. The film famously soft-pedaled this troubling conflict with jokes about Carell’s ever-increasing beard growth and the superstitions and disbelief of his family, turning the picture into more of a supposed “heartwarmer” than its predecessor. Somehow, Carell survived this flop, as it’s been nearly wiped off his resume, though it did turn director Tom Shadyac into retirement in reaction to the film’s questionable moral code, leading him to make a New Age documentary about spirituality.

“Blues Brothers 2000”
Long after the passing of original “Blues Brother” John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd attempted to keep the flame alive in a way that grossly seemed like more of an opportunity to hawk product and merchandise than to honor his dead friend (see: “Ghostbusters 3”). What’s striking about this decade-too-late cash grab, which feels like even less of a film than its shaggy-dog original, is how absolutely strange the film seems. The gag of the Blues Brothers died as the characters became accepted into the cultural lexicon as legacy creations, earning respect and reverence where jokes should have been, and as a result, new Brother John Goodman seems hamstrung by the entire experiment to create something new and meaningful. While the earlier picture showcased an enjoyably ridiculous amount of car chases, here the guest stars overshadow anything else, and the film attempts to tie the story and (often lackluster) performances together through methods nonsensical and, at times, supernatural. When a late-reel evolution shows that co-star Joe Morton’s arc involved him understand and realizing his “blackness,” it’s clear that this was just a gumbo of ideas tossed together, and not an actual film: they should have just filmed a concert and moved on.

“Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo”Most were already shoveling the dirt on Rob Schneider’s leading man career by the time the sequel to “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” hit theaters to muted interest. It’s true the funnyman had exhausted most of his goodwill with a series of crude star vehicles that made David Spade look like Monsieur Hulot. ‘European Gigolo’ is in much the same vein for the most part, with Schneider’s unlikely lady-pleaser headed east to romance a different breed of woman. What most failed to notice, however, was Schneider and company turning this film into an unlikely “Dressed To Kill” homage, involving a murder mystery where Deuce becomes involved in the chase for a killer of male prostitutes, eventually getting implicated himself and leading to a plot involving Bigalow outwitting the cops as he plumbs the depths of an icky sex crime spree. ‘European Gigolo’ manages to outdo its predecessor with a maze of sexual deformities on the list of suspects, stooping fairly low in the process. But it is inspired that Schneider and director Mike Bigelow (no relation) took such a low-anticipation smut-fest and attempted to reveal a weirdly highbrow sensibility, even if the streak of homophobia shared by the film and its De Palma-directed predecessor remains off-putting and outdated, and it remains the only film that both references De Palma and features a woman with a penis for a nose.

“Weekend At Bernie’s II”
Sort of a modified “Waiting For Godot,” the original “Weekend At Bernie’s” was a madcap caper involving two would-be businessmen who must pretend that their deceased cokehound boss is still alive, stringing along his corpse like it were a doll in order to prove to the dubious that they were his best friends and associates. There’s a dark morbidity to this premise, one that you’d think could be remade today as a Bret Easton Ellis-type commentary on consumption and capitalism. However, in the nineties, somehow the impulse was to sequelize the film in a way that made Bernie’s fate a comic misunderstanding for family audiences. The wacky, tacky sequel finds a convoluted way to get Bernie back into the story, as his body is abducted to lead to a large sum of money, and later resurrected by voodoo. Credit to actor Terry Kiser, who plays Bernie’s corpse with an unsung abandon, even in the most ridiculous circumstances. However, he’s only one guy, and most of ‘Bernie’s 2’ hangs on the shoulders of returning preppies Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy, both of whom saw this sequel as a possible ticket to the big time, and not a tremendously embarrassing punchline they erase from memory. If you were ever wondering, “how many jokes can you get out of a corpse?” then “Weekend At Bernie’s 2” just might be your life-saving Wikipedia.

What do you think? Do comedy sequels usually miss the mark by having to live to up the high standards of what came before? Any sequels you think worked or were even better than the original? Let us know below.

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