I am an unabashed lover of young adult fiction, even as I head further into not-so-young adulthood. One of my favorite series from back in the day was The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books. Over four books, I watched four friends and their magical pants grow up, until in book four they lost the pants, and that was that, or so I thought. Browsing through a bookstore the other day, I found out that there was a fifth book (Sisterhood Everlasting), one being sold in the regular adult fiction section, with a normal looking cover, which meant I could read it on the Metro without embarrassment. (Yes, I know this is why e-readers were invented, but I’m old school.)
I don’t want to say too much and give the story away if you’re going to read it, but I found the book to be somewhat unnecessary. I didn’t finish book four of the original series thinking “Gee, I would really like to know what happens to these characters when they’re 30.” And the things that did happen to the characters at that age sort of took away from my memory of the previous books. So that got me thinking…do sequels ruin everything?
Just to clarify, I’m not talking follow-ons to books that were clearly meant to be a series, where loose ends are clearly left hanging that are going to take more books (or movies) to resolve. No, I’m talking about sequels to things that were perfectly good stand alone pieces of entertainment. Rare is the sequel that really adds something to anything that was already good; the best it can do is let the original remain the same, even worse if it makes you think less of the first one. Some of my least favorite examples:
Legally Blonde 2: There is nothing sadder to me than when a sequel commits serious character assassination. LB2 asks us to pretend that Elle, who matured so much during the first movie, would rise quickly to be offered partnership in a law firm, only to throw it away by giving a presentation about her dog’s mom. The first movie was pretty much perfect; I prefer to pretend this one never happened.
Mean Girls 2: I want to meet the exec who was like “Well, we don’t have Tina Fey, or Lindsay Lohan, or anyone from the original cast except Tim Meadows; we’re not even shooting at the same high school, but…let’s do this sequel!” Granted, this movie isn’t even worth the label of a ‘sequel’ so much at it is an awkward rehash with a less talented cast and less snappy writing. It didn’t make me think less of the first movie per se, but I do want back the two hours of my life I spent watching this.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason: I love Bridget Jones. So you can imagine my delight when I realized the book had a sequel. You can also imagine my disappointment when the book was not nearly as funny as the first and got very muddled in a rather un-plausible subplot about getting stuck in a Thai prison. I hear the same thing happens in the movie, I would not know as I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.
Any Disney Movie 2: Did the Brothers Grimm write sequels to their fairy tales? So why must Disney? Every sequel I’ve seen has been not great, with the exception of…
Toy Story 2: I like this better than the first one. And better than the third one. I might be the only person in America who feels this way. Speaking of animated sequels, I also quite enjoyed Shrek 2. I would have loved this movie just for introducing me to Puss in Boots, but as sequels go, it’s quite solid plot-wise, as well.
I believe the conclusion to be drawn is that sequels ruin a lot of things, but not computer animated movies. At least that’s my conclusion, but I could be wrong. What are your thoughts? Are sequels unnecessary? Are they dastardly moneygrabs out to ruin our memories of great movies? Or are there actually a bunch of awesome sequels out there that I just haven’t seen (or read)?