In any event, recently I noticed that there were certain movies which, although not designed to be, are like sequels to earlier, unrelated films. Movies that show you what would have happened years later if only you use a little imagination and poetic license, and I thought it would be fun to pair some of them up in a list.
Know what else I noticed? There are a whole bunch of people who like to comment on articles who don't actually read them. They miss the conceit of the entire article that's set up in the introductory paragraphs and jump from the title to the entries. I'm also not sure they read the entries. It's basically title, entry title, pictures, comment. So yeah, for them, this column will be a bit of a confusing train wreck. And even though they are the worst people in the world afflicted with all manner of masturbatory-induced venereal diseases, maybe you'd be good enough to point them to the first two paragraphs above. And don't worry about them getting offended by the preceding sentence. They won't read it.
OK, so here we go:
Say Anything/Blue Valentine
In 1989 Cameron Crowe released what I like to call his best film about a simple, but kind-hearted, lower middle-class 19-year-old high school graduate named Lloyd Dobler. Lloyd has a crush on Diane Court: a smarter, highly motivated, upper middle-class girl. Lloyd has no true ambition in life other than being with Diane, and he treats her well. Ultimately, she bows to family pressure and breaks up with Lloyd. Do you remember how he wins her back?
Yeah, not like this. This just pissed off the neighbors.
Although a memorable scene, Lloyd's Peter Gabriel-infused serenade does not save the day. Instead, after breaking Lloyd's heart, Diane comes back to him when she is struck by a family tragedy - her father (and basically only friend) is arrested and imprisoned for stealing money from the old folks at his home for the aged. She is alone and turns to Lloyd for help. Lloyd admits he loves her so much that it doesn't matter if she's back because she wants him or just because she needs someone, and they go off to a new life together.
Unless of course they crash and burn in a fiery death. We just don't know.
Well twenty one years later director, Derek Cianfrance explored similar themes with his ultra-depressing and ultimately half-baked movie called Blue Valentine. (Although Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are so talented, and improvise some great moments. So you can almost overlook all of that). The movie takes place in two times about ten years apart. How it starts is a little familiar.
Dean (Gosling) is a slightly older, simple, lower middle-class guy who doesn't care about anything other than being with Cindy (Williams). She is a motivated high school student who wants to be a doctor. When problems arise - in the form of her dbag boyfriend knocking her up-she turns to Gosling for help. He agrees to marry her and even raise the other guy's kid. Like Lloyd Dobler, he has no ambitions other than being with his girl, and like Lloyd he is a genuinely good man.
"I don't know, sir. I can't figure it all out tonight. I just want to hang out with your daughter."
So What Happens Next?
Where Say Anything implies a happily ever after ending (barring an unforeseen plane crash), Blue Valentine flashes forward ten years. Dean is a devoted father. He also remains faithful and sexually interested in his wife. He does, however, chainsmoke, drink a bit too much, and has no other aspirations in life. He works as a house painter out of necessity, but is otherwise at home with the woman and daughter he loves.
And guess what? It's just not enough. Cindy grows to resent him. She hates her life. And even though he was exactly what she needed at the desperate moment at 18, she is not what she wants or needs ten years later. He is exactly the man he promises to be and it does not matter, because that is not the only factor in a successful marriage.
Some might say I'm being too hard on Cindy. I have three replies to that:
1) I'd love to be "hard on" Cindy. Michelle Williams. Mrowr! Zing! (Okay, we got that out of the way;
2) The semi-retarded screenplay is even harder on Cindy. Dean's tattoo? The giving tree. Yeah, the giving tree. The book about that tree that gives and gives and gives and the boy who takes and takes and takes until the tree is reduced to nothing. Most overt and functionally retarded symbolism ever.
How many blue collar Italian guys from New York do you know sporting this tattoo?
3) I'm not really criticizing Cindy. It was inevitable. She should have never married Dean in the first place. Being a solid guy was the only thing she really liked about him and it just wasn't enough. She made a mistake, but she was scared and 18.
Kind of like Diane Court. Kind of exactly like Diane Court, just with a baby on the way. 1980s favorite sweethearts Lloyd and Diane don't stand a chance. Thanks Blue Valentine!
This one's easier to explain. Goonies stars young Sean Astin as Mikey Walsh, a young boy with a love of old historical pirate tales. Some of this love was fostered by his now-absent father who has left treasure maps behind. With the help of his politically incorrect friends (the English-butchering Asian and the fat Jew), Mikey finds a cave of secret treasure to save his town from demolition.
So What Happens Next?
Well based on casting alone you might be tempted to think Mikey grew up to be . . .
"I'll find Precious by following the clues on the back of the Hobbit Articles of Confederation!"
But free your mind. The actor is irrelevant. We're talking character. And it's not so hard to believe that a thrill-seeking kid who loves history, adventure, and pirate gold would grow up to be. . . Well you see where I'm going with this, right?
"I'm still haunted by Chunk's Truffle Shuffle."
Yep. Nick Cage as Benjamin Gates in National Treasure. He's a guy who loves history, and adventure, and is motivated by treasure. And much like little Mikey Walsh, he got the bug from his dad. Both characters use antiquated maps to find treasure underground.
But the similarities don't end there. Mikey Walsh has asthma. Benjamin Gates has some sort of disorder that makes him speak in an unnatural breathy manner, like he's trying to shout, exhale, and whisper at the same time. It also helps that Cage's character is so simplistic and emotionally one-dimensional that there's hardly anything besides the ability to shave separating him from an earnest, intelligent 12 year old boy.
There is, however, one revealing difference. While the Goonies' treasure hunt is pretty far-fetched, Gates's are impossible, both historically (the first movie gets the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence wrong) and logically (the first movie is about a treasure map that is hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence). When viewed as a latter-day Mikey, Gates actually makes more sense. He's a crazy person.
After experiencing the unlikely payoff of One Eyed Willie's gold, Mikey has retreated to the only place that he could possibly replicate that success: An imaginary world of his own design, where, to quote Gates in National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets, "The past is filled with incredible mysteries. The clues to solving them are all around, hidden in plain sight." The National Treasure films all take place inside Gates' head, like the first half of Beautiful Mind if that movie never acknowledged that John Nash was hallucinating his top secret government missions. Gates is what happens to Mikey if he never grew up: A real treasure hunter in the same way your local crazy homeless guy is a real astronaut-wizard.