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The news that Universal is toying with the idea of going forward on a 'Bridesmaids' sequel even without the original's star and writer, Kristen Wiig, should not come as too big of a surprise, given the hit comedy's gargantuan worldwide box-office haul of nearly $300 million. True, the dribs and drabs of information we've been hearing could all be part of a negotiation strategy on both sides, but here's why it may not be: Kristen Wiig is smart and realizes that a sequel to a comedy is not a great idea. Sure, she'd make a lot of money. But at what price to her reputation, which happens to be glowing with the radiance of 1,000 suns at this moment?
Look, it's hard enough to name a great sequel -- yes, there are a few: namely the quite obvious 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'The Godfather Part II' -- but try naming a great comedy sequel from the past 30 years. Even if you can, there's usually a catch: "Well, I thought 'Ghostbusters II' was funny, but I know I'm in the minority," or "The critics hated 'The Hangover Part II,' but screw the critics, I laughed." Fine, then. But do you know who deep down cares what the critics think (even if she won't admit it)? Kristen Wiig. And who wouldn't? 'Bridesmaids' is the comedy darling of 2011. Why would anyone want to ruin that with a hastily made money grab? Put it this way: Kristen Wiig came up with the concept of 'Bridesmaids' in 2006. 'Bridesmaids' is a baby that she nurtured for five years. It's abundantly clear that Universal is not going to give her five years to write a second film. Therefore, Kristin Wiig is 100 percent right to not want make a sequel.
Let's assume, then, that Wiig doesn't return. Now we're dealing with an entirely different animal: not just a comedy sequel but a comedy sequel that is missing its star.
How bad of an idea is this? Let's look at the historical record.
It is highly unlikely, for an assortment of reasons, that a "Bridesmaids 2' will go the route of 'Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd' and focus on younger versions of the original film's characters. So that leaves us with two categories: "Rehash the First Movie, Just Without its Star" or "Focus on a Supporting Character."
If Universal decides to make the unfortunate decision to rehash the first story, only without Kristen Wiig, we've got ourselves a really bleak forecast. Here are your examples:
Instead of a movie about a golf tournament starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray, the sequel to 'Caddyshack' is a movie about a golf tournament starring Jackie Mason and Dan Aykroyd. Chevy Chase does show up for an unfortunate cameo. Bill Murray -- who, eight years later, would star in a movie about an elephant before becoming a respected actor again -- wouldn't touch this movie with an any-foot-long anything.
'Teen Wolf Too'
This is pretty much the same movie as the original 'Teen Wolf,' only instead of Michael J. Fox we meet his cousin, played by Jason Bateman. And instead of basketball, it's about boxing. Also, it's not a good movie.
'Smokey and the Bandit III'
Burt Reynolds did make a very brief cameo at the end of the film, but this time The Bandit was played by the former Snowman, Jerry Reed. This movie is terrible in every possible way. An argument can be made that 'Smokey III' belongs in the "Focus on a Supporting Character" category, but in this case they took a supporting character and transformed him into the old main character, thereby rehashing the first film -- which is much worse.
'Mannequin: On the Move'
For as long as I live, this film will have a place on my list of "movies that I can't believe exist." The first one is fine. But I guess when the producers couldn't get Kim Cattrall or Andrew McCarthy to return for a sequel, they just said, "You know, let's just do the first one again with different people and see what happens."
OK, so Option 1 does not appear to be viable at all. Realizing this, Universal will take the route of "Focus on a Supporting Character," which we all know will be Megan, who was played Melissa McCarthy (no relation to Andrew McCarthy). This has been tried before, too.
'Short Circuit 2'
Gone are Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy, as the story now focuses on Fisher Stevens' Ben Jabituya. I'll never forget that both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave this film a thumbs up. I remember the look on their faces as they stared at each other in stunned disbelief that they both agreed. Unfortunately, 'Short Circuit 2" has aged very poorly. The reasons are numerous ... OK, no they're not: It's 100 percent because Fisher Stevens, an actor who is not Indian, speaks with a thick Indian accent for the duration of this film.
'Get Him to the Greek'
'Get Him to the Greek' is technically a sequel to 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall,' even though Jonah Hill appears in both films, playing a completely different character in each. Admittedly, this movie is decent enough. The reason being is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the first film (a strategy that Judd Apatow is also following with this December's 'This is 40') apart from Russell Brand's involvement. And it was wise to limit Brand's eccentric Aldous Snow to a supporting role – a template that might be wise to follow if we absolutely must have a 'Megan' movie.
See, this almost falls into 'Smokey and the Bandit III' territory by taking a supporting character from 'Bruce Almighty,' Evan (Steve Carell), and changing that character just enough to make him interchangeable with the main character from the original. It's just handled better in this case -- not that this movie is any good. I mean, it's sure better than 'Smokey III,' but losing Jim Carrey and changing the format from "screwball romantic comedy" to "family film" was too much to overcome.
So, yes, if Kristen Wiig doesn't return for 'Bridesmaids 2,' your best-case scenario is 'Get Him to the Greek.' If she does return? Your best-case scenario is probably still something along the lines of 'Get Him to the Greek.' (Good lord, Universal, please don't make 'Bridesmaids 2.')
(Or you, too, Warner Bros., with 'Horrible Bosses 2' -- a story that broke as I was writing this.)
Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter
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