Does It’s a Wonderful Life really need a sequel released in 2015?
Every time a bell rings, a classic is needlessly remade or sequeled. Do you think a sequel to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is really a good idea or just another sign of greedy capitalism when it comes to modernizing the classics? Bah, humbug!
Is nothing sacred in this world anymore? I read the recent news that movie execs are thinking about making a sequel to Frank Capra’s beloved Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life in time for the 2015 holiday season. Why is this necessary and what more can they possibly “add to the rest of the story” that wasn’t already covered in the classic 1990s Saturday Night Live skit in which they claimed to have found the “long-lost ending?”
As a lifetime admirer of It’s a Wonderful Life, I especially love that skit. You know the one I’m talking about, or perhaps you don’t. In the long-lost skit, Uncle Billy remembers it was actually Potter who pocketed the Bailey Brothers’ Building & Loan Association’s deposit money at the bank and all the well-wishers who had gathered at the Baileys’ house all go and kick the old man’s ass. (“Why, you’re nothing but a fraud! You’re not even a cripple, Potter!”) Sheer brilliance. Dana Carvey was hilariously on-point with his Jimmy Stewart impersonation as George Bailey, as was Jon Lovitz as Potter, Jan Hooks as Mary Bailey, Phil Hartman as Uncle Billy and Dennis Miller as Harry Bailey. If you’ve never seen this skit before, I highly recommend you look it up right now!
The Variety news release says the sequel will be about George Bailey’s grandson and the actress who portrayed Bailey’s daughter Zuzu in the original film will star as an angel this time around. While I think it’s wonderful that Zuzu is still alive and well and wants to be included in the sequel, I don’t understand why it’s being made other than to capitalize on a winning formula in Hollywood – prequel it, sequel it and/or remake it if it’s a beloved story. It doesn’t matter if you butcher it in the process, as long as you sell a few tickets and/or DVDs. Isn’t that the Christmas spirit and the American way? Bah, humbug!
I actually had a mini-debate with an old college friend regarding the sequel news. He claims every generation deserves the right to see if they can enhance the richness of a legacy by adding on their own touch or story arc to a classic. While I understand what he was saying, I don’t necessarily think this is true. Maybe I’m a skeptic, but I don’t see what my generation could really add to it that would enhance it all that much. Are we going to show George Bailey’s grandson reacting to his presence or lack thereof on social media? It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic for a reason. Millions of people worldwide have embraced this film, accepting it into their hearts and many a holiday tradition since it came out in 1946. The only thing that astounds me more than talk of a sequel is the fact that this film wasn’t as widely accepted at the time of its release as one might think.
And I believe there’s a reason why a sequel hasn’t been made in 60+ years. The original story captures the perfection and beauty of life and the human spirit as-is. It’s a Wonderful Life is a film about a man who learns just how valuable the precious gift of life is and how many people you can impact whether or not you even realize it. We’re all connected in this life – every action sparks a reaction and so on and so forth. If George Bailey hadn’t existed, his brother Harry would’ve drowned as a child and the effects were even far more outreaching than that. The very fabric of Bedford Falls seems to unravel without the presence of George Bailey. Maybe not all of us would have had as huge of an impact as George, but I’d like to think my own life would have some sort of significance had I never existed.
Do I really need a modernized update with another generation in the same family discovering this importance of intertwining lives and friends? I don’t think I do. I’ve already seen the story arc used on countless other programs and animated movies since I was a kid. There are some who would argue this formula has been overplayed so much we don’t even always recognize it for what it is. I once read somewhere that even Back to the Future II could be called a loose interpretation of the It’s a Wonderful Life story, since Marty McFly discovers his town of Hill Valley has been transformed into something unrecognizable as the result of his tampering with time travel.
And as for their brilliant “twist” of making the main character unlikable and imagining a better world without him, according to Entertainment Weekly’s news report, haven’t we sort of already seen this done through Scrooge in A Christmas Carol? I don’t want another update on that Christmas classic either. If we’re going to sequel anything, can we at least get an Elf 2? After all, that movie was pretty heartwarming and is like a decade old now! Better yet, I’d rather see my Hover Board come to fruition in 2015!
I suppose I should be most thankful this holiday season that they are at least calling this proposed project a sequel and not a remake. After hearing that NBC was remaking The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood for a live broadcast next month, I’ve just about lost hope for my generation.
It’s A Wonderful Life was named the 20th best movie of all time by the American Film Institute in 2007 – doesn’t that mean anything to anyone? Let’s cherish the original for its pure, unadulterated storytelling at its best with a generation of actors that really honed in on their craft. Maybe I’m as idealistic as the young George before the weight of the Depression-era world came bearing down upon his lanky shoulders, but there will never be another actor capable of playing a George Bailey-esque role in quite the same manner as Jimmy Stewart. There is a reason I fell in love with his character as a child and I just don’t know that anybody else can fill that spot in my heart, especially if they end up casting someone like Robert Pattinson or any of the other leading “Hollywood hunks” of today.