A salute to the incredible work ethic of mediocre stars
One day, Eddie Murphy will launch into space in a dazzling emerald rocketship powered by ‘80s anecdotes and melted copies of The Adventures of Pluto Nash.
Jim Carrey will also be on board reading scripts for movies about animals finding love by doing people things and Sean William Scott rocks back and forth muttering: “I’m not Stifler, I’m a real person named Sean”.
And that ship will punch through the atmosphere and take them to a world beyond the reaches of time, where middle-aged stars grappling with relevancy issues are free to make sequels without feeling the scorn of the Internet drilling into their brains.
I recently saw the latest American Pie, a movie created by kidnapping the people from the original with the fewest IMDb entries, locking them in a Saw-esque torture room and forcing them to act out a series of scenarios involving excrement and penises in exchange for their lives.
With franchises such as American Pie, it’s little wonder sequels are so widely despised. Men in Black III is also due to hit cinemas soon and there’s been recent talk of sequels to Jim Carrey’s Dumb and Dumber, Independence Day and the Schwarzenegger/DeVito vehicle Twins (starring Eddie Murphy, because he hates you). Audiences seem decidedly unenthused.
There was even rumours of a Ghost Busters 3 at one stage - which was supposedly to focus on an aging Bill Murray’s attempts to find meaning and serenity in a busy Tokyo street, while the ghost of a beautiful, but restless young woman writes mysterious haikus in the journals of businessmen gripped by mid-life crises (spoiler: Rick Moranis is a nerd).
Every time a new Die Hard or Mission Impossible or Lethal Weapon is announced, everyone rushes to proclaim how it will “ruin” the series and spoil their cherished childhood memories of noisy explosions and one-dimensional racial stereotypes.
But we should really be applauding those big names smiling and twitching their way through lousy sequels. They display a true work ethic - a willingness to put in several joyless, soul-incinerating months of labour with the hope of receiving a sum of money large enough to purchase numerous luxury items and sink further into debt.
It’s in these moments, that they are closer to us than ever. If anything, we’re lucky. When our boss asks us to unclog the kitchenette sink, nobody sees it. Imagine having to acknowledge Tara Reid’s existence for two hours in front of millions of people.
If I were a movie star, you wouldn’t be able to stop me doing sequels. They’d run out of sensible numbers in a matter of months and would have to start resorting to those nonsensical titles with a colon and a random, epic “R”-type noun like “resurrection” or “redemption” or “resurdemption”.
If I were Johnny Depp, I’d never even take off the Jack Sparrow make-up. I’d force a camera crew at gunpoint to film me grocery shopping and drunkenly spreading avocado on toast and release it as a feature called “Pirates of the Caribbean: At week’s end”.
And there are thousands of people who rely on folks like Sylvester Stallone to keep on pumping out Rambos and Expendables. Grips and set designers and whatever the hell a “best boy” is (the one that gets paid more than the “adequate boy”) all depend on Sly getting oiled up and shooting ethnic people in the jungle.
But the best part is you don’t have to watch them.
The mysteries of the Cosmos have granted us the joy of functioning eyelids. With practice, and strong concentration, these seemingly useless flaps of skin can be extended over the pupils to block incoming light, rendering images projected by large screens relatively harmless. If, for some reason, you are lacking these marvelous pockets of stretchy stuff, you can set aside the money you would ordinarily spend on seeing a sequel and use it to buy several copies of the original films of DVD.
Studio execs do not make these sequels to personally upset you. Your face was not stapled to an easel during a Hollywood sales pitch. Stars like Murphy and Carrey make them because they make money. They make them because, like the rest of us, they need to keep working.
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