Entertainment column: “Stars shun sequels for good reason” (The Province, Aug. 10, 2007)

“Stars shun sequels for good reason”

by Gillian Burnett

Oh, what a fickle mistress fame can be. Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., who made “Show me the money!” famous in 1996’s Jerry Maguire, must have been in grave need of cash when he took on the role formerly known as Eddie Murphy’s in Daddy Day Camp, the sequel to Daddy Day Care that just landed in theatres with a resounding thud. In a nice kind of symmetry, Murphy just climbed out of his own slump to garner an Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls; maybe he thought Norbit was enough big-screen humiliation for one decade.

But Cuba Gooding is certainly not alone. There is a long, humbling tradition of sequels without stars — ahem, I mean sequels without their original stars. To wit:

Son of the Mask: This 2005 followup to 1996’s The Mask, featuring the rubber-featured Jim Carrey, “stars” Jamie Kennedy and received one of the lowest user ratings I’ve ever seen on the Internet Movie Database. (Two stars. That’s out of a possible 10.) Kennedy’s finest work can be seen in such classics as the recent Kickin’ It Old Skool. ‘Nuff said.

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Jeff Daniels and (again) Jim Carrey are nowhere to be seen in this 2003 sequel to Dumb and Dumber. Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen (exactly: who?) take on the roles of the teenage Harry and Lloyd in this forgettable flop. Here’s hoping the producers aren’t planning on a Dumb and Dumbest: When Harry Buried Lloyd.

Evan Almighty. Hmmm. Are you noticing a trend here? It seems that a rule has emerged: when Jim Carrey won’t go, just say no. Not even the hilarious Steve Carell could save this 2007 Waterworld of comedies from sinking.

Home Alone 3. Child star Macaulay Culkin wouldn’t touch this sequel, which came in 1997, five years after the success of the first two. (To be fair, at the time he was off developing a coke habit in response to his parents’ ugly wrangling over his fortune.) In fact, even John Hughes, who directed No. 2 and wrote all three, had the good sense not to direct the third, which cast Alex D. Linz in the starring role and boasted the official tagline, “It’s bad news for bad guys. Again.” Even the tagline knew there was nothing to see here.

Speed 2: Cruise Control. Keanu Reeves starred in Speed as a cop who has to save the passengers of a bus in which a bomb will explode if the bus goes below 50 m.p.h. (That’s about 80 km/h for Canadian actors.) The sequel stars Jason Patric as a cop who has to save the passengers of a cruise ship that will collide with an oil tanker … you get the picture. Sandra Bullock, however, had no such reservations about returning. And then she made Hope Floats.

Wild Things 2. Neve Campbell and Denise Richards’ upper torsos were the real stars of the first Wild Things (1998), whose ill-advised plot involved two high-school students framing their guidance counsellor for rape. Too bad Leila Arcieri and Susan Ward didn’t seek guidance before they signed on for the 2004 sequel.

Cruel Intentions 2 and 3. The first Cruel Intentions featured Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon, among other big names, not one of whom returned for the sequel. In fact, even the no-names who starred in No. 2 turned down No. 3. You know you’re in trouble when …

Batman Forever. Michael Keaton might have stunk up the joint a little as the caped crusader in Batman (1989) and a lot in Batman Returns (1992), but he was no sucker for punishment. Val Kilmer was a slightly more credible hero in 1995’s Batman Forever (not an apt title, in retrospect), but the pair who swept the Razzies in 1997, George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell as Batman and Robin, indelibly stained the franchise. It would be seven years before brave Christian Bale would attempt the role again, in Batman Begins.

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