4 Sequels That Messed Up Their Own Legacy
2.) Meet the Parents
Probably the biggest dip in quality from first film to the last film. The original (or rather the 2000 film) most have seen or heard of was a big hit with audiences and critics (it’s actually a remake of a 1992 film that seems to be only slightly easier to find than the ark of the covenant). Now if you mention it, you’d probably get someone to roll their eyes. It’s about a guy named Greg Focker meeting his girlfriend Pam’s parents for the weekend and all the accidents and problems that arise (Fun Fact: Jim Carrey was originally attached to the role, but before he left he did contribute that name joke and since it’s also the same director as “Austin Powers” I can only assume Jay Roach REALLY wanted to work with Carrey). Not helped by the father’s (Robert De Niro) paranoid nature and being an ex-CIA agent. It’s a film full of funny scenes made even funnier by just how awkward they can make them. It’s kind of like the principle of “breaking the pain barrier” used by “Pink Panther” director Blake Edwards. In those you have scenes where someone on a lower floor sticks his finger through the floor and it accidentally gets stepped on. That’s funny, but it becomes funnier if you make it even more painful by having that same character being suspended in air by having his finger being stepped on. That seems to be how this film goes about its comedy by showing how Greg screws up more and more embarrassingly. It was a good film that for many introduced them to the idea that Robert De Niro could be really funny in a comedy.
So as the ending teased we got a sequel called “Meet the Fockers” which went even further with the joke. While the first film was silly and the idea that the father would be an ex-CIA agent is probably unlikely, it was still in the realms of possibility. “Meet the Fockers” went even sillier with Greg’s parents and awkward situations. It no longer felt real like the first film, but funny is funny and seeing Dustin Hoffman as a spaced out hippie dad was funny. Now years later we got another sequel called “Little Fockers” which was certainly the worst. They couldn’t even get the same director. Not only that, but in addition to the similar “MIB” problem of “wow you guys had THIS long to plan a sequel and THIS is what you came up with?” it’s also just an incredible slog to get through with none of the actors looking like they wanted to be there. Definitely the worst of the series and again seems to make everyone forget how much they enjoyed the first film. The first film is almost unrecognizable from this. It kind of reminds me of the principle of Ivan Reitman in “Ghostbusters” of building one crazier idea on top of each so the audience doesn’t question how we got to such an absurd place. I guess seeing how crazy and far the films got away from the original idea made it hard for some to re-watch it knowing it exists in the same world as Barbra Streisand’s therapist mouthing Robert De Niro and… EVERYTHING that happened in “Little Fockers.”
1.) Rush Hour
The main thing I can always say for this film is that it introduced me to Jackie Chan. I know on the internet it’s much cooler to have been into something BEFORE it went mainstream, but it’s true “Rush Hour” was where I first became aware of him. The story is about the young daughter of a foreign diplomat being taken hostage during rush hour traffic and held for ransom. The diplomat calls an old friend/Chinese cop (Chan) to find his daughter, but the FBI doesn’t think he can possibly help. So, they get someone from the LAPD to keep him busy. They get a cop (Chris Tucker) who is already on thin ice with his department. Due to them patronizingly tricking him into the assignment, he decides to try to solve the case himself. Fish out of water/odd couple/buddy cop silliness ensues. Not the most original idea, but very well executed. What I find interesting in re-watching it is how much its tone and visuals try to make it look and feel like a regular cop film. There’s just funny jokes that happen to be going on.
Now each sequel was highly anticipated. It seemed like every interview with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker had to address it. However, it’s funny how much this follows the “Meet the Parents” sequels track of the 2nd film is actually a decent sequel. It’s funny, a little goofier, and farther away from the original premise but still decent. The third film is the “not only is this bad but it’s amazing it’s this bad” when they had THIS much time to figure out what it would be about. Also, that look and tone I mentioned earlier completely disappeared in the sequels as they got more colorful and for lack of a better term… comedy looking. The director Brett Ratner has also majorly gone down in the years since the sequels. Which is a shame as he used to make good movies and in interviews seemed to really know what he was talking about which makes his descent all the sadder. This all goes for cases where a filmmaker used to make great film after great film, but nowadays makes crap (I’m sure you have an example in your head). But no matter what, those later films can’t and shouldn’t affect the earlier films. That’s ultimately the reason for writing this article. I hope I reminded readers of this idea.