Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Toaster's Ramblings - "It's a Wonderful Life: The Bastard Sequel" Edition

It is a tradition with me. Every Christmas Eve at 8 pm, I plop down in front of the television and watch It's a Wonderful Life. I love the film for everything it represents and the feelings it creates within me. It's a Wonderful Life is like this time capsule of a world I will never know. Before television or computers or smartphones... its a small quaint town where the people were a close-knit community and where, for some reason, many spoke in that 1930's tough guy vernacular. It was a place where people were genuinely good at heart... except for that one evil guy that represented everything that the "Norman Rockwell" picturesque America opposed. I often wonder how much of this world really existed, but it didn't have to be real at all. It was Frank Capra's world and as long as his films are still able to be seen, that world is just as real as you want it to be.

And then today I read this headline on Yahoo: http://movies.yahoo.com/news/wonderful-life-sequel-coming-2015-213200658.html

Seriously, is nothing sacred? I am used to Hollywood bastardizing its own legacy in the pursuit of easy money (which is kind of ironic seeing as how It's a Wonderful Life was a box office bomb when it was released in 1946!). A few of those remakes aren't even that bad. But I always figured there were a few works that were off limits... films like Orson Wells' Citizen Kane, Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, Fritz Lang's Metropolis and The Wizard of Oz (which I am very fearful will be remade with the success of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and the recent Oz the Great and Powerful). I had thought that Frank Capra's holiday masterpiece would have been on that list as well. Oh wait, you say it's a sequel and not a remake? BULLSHIT! The article says its the same damn plot! I don't care how many of George Bailey's kids are cast in the movie, it might as well be a remake!

This is just plain cash grabbing greed! What's the damn point? The plot of It's a Wonderful Life has been parodied countless times in television... almost as much as A Christmas Carol! Did we really need a movie to give us the exact same plot? I can only imagine how bad it will be. Actually, its not hard to imagine. Just look at A Christmas Story 2. (Don't look directly at it, you may go blind.)  I knew to avoid that movie like the plague, but I did catch a review that confirmed my fears. The sequel (which by the way was technically the second sequel to the original classic) basically attempted to emulate the original like a bad impersonation rather than try to create anything new or original. Lost was any of the genuine concepts of childhood such as the wrath of a mouthful of soap and the wonder of a Christmas tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped gifts or even the memorable quirkiness of the Old Man's "Major Prize." Those ideas were referenced abundantly throughout the movie, in lieu of creating anything remarkable of their own. Instead, the filmmakers decided to show the audience a sub-par movie while constantly referencing a better one.

Likewise with this bastard sequel of It's a Wonderful Life, the magic will not be there. Movies are not written or directed like they were back in the 1940's, so it will clearly feel different... not to mention almost certainly in color. You won't have the lovable, honest and amazing performance of the late great Jimmy Stewart, which was a major reason for the success of the film. In fact, none of the notable actors are still around. One of the great aspects of the original is that you explore George Bailey's life leading up to his moment of crisis, further encapsulating the look of the film as from a bygone era. Is this new one going to explore George Bailey II's life through the 80's, 90's and 00's? It just won't be the same... or even close for that matter.

I can only hope this movie goes direct to video and disappears like other bastard holiday sequels like the aforementioned A Christmas Story 2 and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2. You know, I wouldn't bitch as much (or at all, really) if Hollywood decided to remake or sequelize Santa Claus Conquers the Martians! But no, they have to bastardize the time honored classics... I guess as opposed to the cult classic MST3K mocked film.

I can only hope the filmmakers are visited by guardian angels who show them how much better off the world would be if they didn't make It's a Wonderful Life 2.

Only Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry can cheer me up now:

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