Back in 2009, this critic drew the short straw and was assigned by my cruel editor to cover the movie “Paul Blart Mall Cop.” The film featured “King of Queens” star Kevin James as an overweight, simple-minded, Segway riding mall security guard with delusions of grandeur who ends up foiling a bank robbery and getting the girl. The film is as flat as can be: a laugh-free, dim-bulb wallow in “fat guy” humor and tacky action set pieces. After the press screening, I found myself in a hotel room interviewing James and he was such a sweetheart that I truly felt sorry for him having to be trapped in such cinematic slop.
That pity was unwarranted, however as “Blart” when on to become a surprise box-office hit. And now, five years later, James is back in his button-straining white work shirt, wheeling through the running time of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.” But instead of riffing on the film itself, we’ve opted to turn our attentions to a slew of other studio sequels that nobody really asked for. Some are follow-ups to iconic films that should have remained one-shots; some are companions to pictures that weren’t very good to begin with. But one thing’s for sure: all of them stink!
The original “Grease” was based on a beloved musical and the film was and remains an immaculate confection, with high-energy, endlessly singable tunes, John Travolta in peak form and groovy dance numbers. The woefully inept, Travolta-free, “Grease 2” has a young Michelle Pfeiffer doing her best to make songs about bowling work. She can’t.
Travolta may have sat “Grease 2” out, but he showed up for director Sylvester Stallone’s wildly awful follow-up to “Saturday Night Fever.” In it, Travolta’s macho doofus Tony Manero is still strutting around NYC and still angst ridden, but this time he’s gunning for his big Broadway break. Said break is an operatic dance number called “Satan’s Alley” that is perhaps the most bloated and ridiculous spectacle you’ll ever see. Stallone’s brother Frank wrote the music. And it’s not good.
‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’
Look, you cannot improve upon William Friedkin’s landmark 1973 shocker, everyone knows this. Everyone except Warner Bros. who hired director John Boorman and actor Richard Burton to make this epic and awful follow-up that defies all comprehension. Great Ennio Morricone score, however…
‘An American Werewolf in Paris’
John Landis’ 1981 classic “An American Werewolf in London” is a fascinating horror/comedy hybrid full of stark terror, imagination, eroticism and heart as well as revolutionary Rick Baker-designed make-up gags. This limp, belated and virtually unrelated sequel has none of these qualities, armed as it is with a chemistry-free cast (including Julie Delpy, actually), shoddy digital effects and no atmosphere whatsoever. Blech!
‘Pink Panther 2’
I’m confident that Peter Sellers is still doing jumping jacks in his grave because of this embarrassing fiasco which sees Steve Martin once more insulting the memory of Sellers’ patented Inspector Clouseau from the original, classic (and funny!) “Pink Panther” films. And as bad as Martin is here, the direction and criminal waste of a great supporting cast is far worse. The scene in which Martin and French legend Jean Reno dance around the kitchen singing “jojoba” wil having you pining for the comedic heights of Paul Blart!