I get it, of course. If you run a studio and do a movie like "Smurfs" that makes money, you have to do a sequel. Our nostalgia for the classic cartoon and desire to protect the sanctity of the freaking Smurfs for crying out loud is naturally going to take a backseat to making millions of dollars.
Besides, and I can't stress this enough, it's the freaking Smurfs.
Still, there are times when a sequel is warranted and a time when it isn't. Like so many others before it, a "Smurfs 2" sequel wasn't really necessary beyond getting everyone involved a nice paycheck.
Unfortunately, there are many sequels that don't even manage that.
With that in mind, I've compiled a list of the most unnecessary sequels in the history of Hollywood. Please note that films like "Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and "Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows" are disqualified. Those were poorly done sequels due to how they were executed, but the idea of doing a sequel in and of itself wasn't preposterous. In fact, in both cases the ideas were welcomed before we saw the final product. Also disqualified: "Chipmunks 2: Chipwrecked," because as far as the Chipmunk Universe is concerned, it was every bit as necessary "The Empire Strikes Back" was to "Star Wars." That island was either Dagobah or Bespin, or both, and Alvin is Luke Skywalker. Deal with it.
Now, on to the list.
#20: THE HANGOVER 3
I think we can all agree that "The Hangover" was great. I think we can also agree that the second one was fine. Unfortunately, a third go around makes the whole thing a little problematic. It's sort of like the friend you have who tells a hilarious drunk story. It's really funny the first time, but the second time it's less funny and a tiny bit troubling. By the third time you're either tired of hearing about it or concerned your friend might have a problem.
#19: THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY
The original "Three Men and a Baby" was pretty high-concept, existing in a world without the medical know-how to determine paternity. "Three Men and a Little Lady" posited an even more preposterous scenario by asking us to imagine a world where we wanted to see a sequel to "Three Men and a Baby." It completely crushed our suspension of disbelief. We were willing to believe that a cardboard stand-up of Ted Danson in a tuxedo was the ghost of a young boy who died during filming. But a sequel? C'mon, guys.
#18: CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES
It's not hard to see why this film was made: at the time, Steve Irwin (R.I.P.) was drawing crazy high ratings by yelling "croikey!" and wrestling alligators, 1980s nostalgia was coming into vogue, and films like this are really cheap to make. On the other hand, we'd already seen the Australian-fish-out-of-water premise twice already. Changing the locale to Los Angeles did nothing to enhance the experience. It just made things busier, more hectic, and less enjoyable. In fairness, that's also what happens when someone moves to Los Angeles in real life.
#17: PRETTY MUCH EVERY INSTALLMENT OF THE "AMERICAN PIE" FRANCHISE
I can't wait for the eventual "American Pie" movie where the gang reunites to talk about their grandkids' sex lives and getting prostate exams.
#16: BASIC INSTINCT 2: RISK ADDICTION
In this movie we learned that Sharon Stone ages remarkably well, like a fine wine. Too bad the same can't be said for "Basic Instinct," let alone the idea of doing a sequel. It'd be one thing if the main character was an action heroine, because of course we'd want to more of her kicking the bad guys in the posterior and traveling around the world. But there isn't a single person out there who was clamoring for The Further Adventures of a Sexy Murderer. By the way, what does "Risk Addiction" mean? Is it an addiction to risk? If so, "Addiction to Risk" would have been a much better title. Better yet, how about "Addicted to Love?" Then you can have the Robert Palmer (R.I.P.) song and everything. "Basic Instinct 2: Might As Well Face It She's Addicted to Love" would not have made this list, I can tell you that much.
#15: I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
Guys, remember that time you did a hit and run on that guy and killed him and promised to keep it a secret? Remember too how I was like "I know you did it!" Well guess what – at no point in the ensuing three years did I either forget or was submitted to some sort of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" treatment where the moment was removed from my mind. I still know what you did last Summer. Too bad I don't still care.
#14: LOOK WHO'S TALKING NOW
Long before the folks that work on Madison Avenue had flooded the market with CGI talking babies, "Look Who's Talking" took the country by storm and became a surprise hit. It should be noted, though, that the film didn't suppose that babies talk, but rather that they have a sophisticated inner dialogue that they can't verbally express and slowly dissipates as they become toddlers. Pretty heavy stuff if you think about it. Then came the third film, where we were supposed to be amused at the inner-thoughts of dogs voiced by Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton.
#13: TEEN WOLF TOO
Known by its alternate title "Teen Wolf As Well," this sequel decided to just re-tell the story with a completely different actor in the lead role (Jason Bateman replacing Michael J. Fox). Also, instead of basketball, this werewolf competes in boxing. Who wouldn't root for a werewolf to maul and nearly kill his teenaged opponents? Traditional, heartwarming family fare.
#12: MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI
Here's the thing with "American Graffiti" – it's a coming of age story, and at the very end they tell us exactly what happens to the characters after the events of the film. There's no mystery or speculation. So with the prospect of a sequel, you have to either show and tell everybody stuff they already know, focus on characters they don't care about, or completely disregard the ending of the first film. It was a recipe for disaster, punctuated by the fact that they barely bothered to name the thing.
#11: A CHRISTMAS STORY 2
I had put the existence of this film out of my head until someone else brought it up in a recent conversation. Here we have yet another example of a narrative faux pas: the first film had a very distinct, specific conclusion and resolution to the protagonist's quest. Ralphie wanted a BB rifle, but they said he'd shoot his eye out. He got one anyway, shot his eye out, and ate Chinese. End of (A Christmas) story. This sequel, which came about 25 years after its expiration date and visually resembled an attempt at a viral video satire, seemed so off the mark as to be offensive to the spirit of the original.
#10: SEX AND THE CITY 2
Arguably, the first film itself wasn't necessary on a creative level, since the series tied up all the loose ends pretty well. While the film wasn't offensively bad, it didn't really match the spirit of the show and seemed to dumb down everything that made it enjoyable. Yet it was topped by this ridiculous, contrived sequel, where the girls go to Abu Dhabi and alternately celebrate everything that makes that country controversial while also managing to come off as racist in the way it addresses those controversies. "Sex and the City 2" was the perfect movie in that it managed to disappoint and offend everyone.
#9: THE LAST EXORCISM 2
Wait a minute: The Last Exorcism 2? I don't think this film's producers know what words mean.
#8: BLUES BROTHERS 2000
The original "Blues Brothers" is a comedy classic and an ode to classic blues music and early rock and roll. This movie was more of an ode to…well, itself. It contained shoe-horned cameos, the introduction of a replacement Blues Brother, and the inclusion of a small child. It was as if they were making a conscious effort to create the most unnecessary, cliché sequel of all time. They nearly succeeded.
#7: CRUEL INTENTIONS 2
SPOILER ALERT: the first film ends with one of the main characters dead, a second exposed to the world as a terrible human being, and a third driving off into the sunset to find herself. The only way this film's existence could be more inexplicable is if Reese Witherspoon driving to The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" cut to a shot of the planet Earth exploding.
#6: JAWS: THE REVENGE
The fourth installment of "Jaws" found a way to be even more unnecessary and contrived than its immediate predecessor, which existed solely to put "3D" into the title. In this film it's not the humans out to avenge the deaths of loved ones and capture that damn killer shark. No, it's the shark that's out for revenge, like a bizarro Moby Dick. Imagine if Herman Melville had written the great American novel about a whale that was obsessed with a ship captain. Wouldn't that be kind of stupid? EXACTLY.
#5: STAYING ALIVE
"Saturday Night Fever" was a cultural phenomenon, briefly a punch line, and then (with the gift of hindsight and onset of 1970s nostalgia) once again a cultural phenomenon and time capsule of its era. It's also a damn fine movie in its own context. This sequel, however, decided that we not only weren't done with the story of the guy who liked to disco dance, we'd be even more excited for his entry into the world of artsy-fartsy interpretive dance. So everything that made the first film fun and gripping was thrown out the window so that we could be treated to the most ridiculous, 80s-tastic dance sequence in film history. The only good thing to come out of this was was Frank Stallone's "Far From Over," which is the first thing I play every morning to get myself pumped for the day.
#4: BABY GENIUSES 2
For the most part, audiences had one of two reactions to this film: "why in the Earth would they make a second one" and "wait a minute, there was actually a movie called Baby Geniuses and Kathleen Turner said yes to it?!"
#3: GREASE 2
This is another movie where the original didn't really leave much room for a sequel. We all know what happens: Sandy decides to change everything about herself and her personality in order to appease the short attention span of Danny Zucco (GIRL POWER!), their high school has an amazing carnival that made me hate my own high school for not having anything nearly anything as cool, and then they drove off into Heaven and died. At least, that's how I interpreted the final shot of the film. At no point did anyone see the original film and think "man, if only there was bowling and considerably less enjoyable songs." Whatever money Michelle Pfeiffer earned for singing and dancing to "Cool Rider" wasn't enough.
#2: TOOTH FAIRY 2
The original "Tooth Fairy" was bad enough, but at least it had The Rock in the titular role. Seeing a guy that big and jacked as a tooth fairy is at least visually funny. The idea of a dude that looks like Larry the Cable Guy sneaking into children's bedrooms and taking their teeth is a better pitch for a horror film than a family comedy.
#1: S. DARKO
The less said about this the better. Again, no reason for it to exist in that the story of "Donnie Darko" was wrapped up pretty neatly, even if it was confusing and doesn't really seem all that deep or interesting once you become an adult.
Are there any sequels you think are more inessential than the ones on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Also, check out our most recent episode of All Access Weekly with Elijah Wood, who has appeared in some of the best and most essential sequels of all time. After all, without the second and third movies, "The Lord of the Rings" isn't nearly as satisfying.