As we've mentioned before, Hollywood ran out of original ideas about five minutes after the first movie camera was invented. That's exactly why no one should be surprised that studios are reaching back to the freaking Cold War to dredge up next year's blockbusters.
#4. The Naked Gun 4 and National Lampoon's Vacation 2
Some Hollywood big shot is apparently being blackmailed by Ed Helms, because Helms is set to star in sequels to two comedy franchises that stopped being fun by the '90s. The Naked Gun 4 -- which, based on the franchise's naming convention, will probably be called The Naked Gun 444.4 -- will introduce Helms as a new character with the exact same name as the dearly departed Leslie Nielsen's. That means they can revisit the franchise without "technically contradicting the events of any of the previous films." Because you definitely want to keep the rich history of a franchise whose most recent entry to date starred an about-to-be-arrested O.J. Simpson and the extraordinary acting talents of Anna Nicole Smith.
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"Plus we won't have to worry about Ed Helms looking nothing like Enrico Palazzo."
We'd say it has a 50-50 chance of being good, but there's only a 10 percent chance of that. We're even less optimistic about Ed Helms' Vacation, which will feature Helms as a now-adult Rusty Griswold taking his family on a wacky trip. At least it will if it ever gets made -- the movie is currently stuck in limbo as producers debate whether to make it R-rated or PG-13. Since grumpy old Chevy Chase is involved, we're going to go ahead and blame (thank?) him for the delay.
#3. Bill and Ted 3
While we can all agree that the original Bill and Ted movies were most excellent, a 13-year-delayed sequel would be totally bogus. For starters, Keanu Reeves has gone from looking like a goofy teen to an ageless mystic, and we're pretty sure Alex Winter is dead.
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"How do you think I maintain my youth?"
Reeves insists the project is coming along despite the fact that it has no director, no money, and no Rufus. And we hope that doesn't change, because a movie starring a middle-aged Bill and Ted would realistically be about them trying to lose weight, hold down their minimum wage gas station jobs, and not get sick of rooming together in a tiny slum apartment.
#2. Shakespeare in Love 2 and Rounders 2
Harvey and Bob Weinstein have decided to take their big piles of money and build a time machine to the '90s, which you'll travel to by watching sequels to two of the '90s-est movies around. Shakespeare in Love is the story of a movie that robbed Saving Private Ryan of a Best Picture Oscar, and in lieu of any official information we're going to assume the sequel will be called Shakespeare's Two in Love and will be about the Bard's attempts to inspire his muse by convincing Gwyneth Paltrow to have a threesome.
"I'm going to give you a Twelfth Night ... of my dick."
Meanwhile, Rounders was a poker movie that became a cult hit after Texas Hold 'em hit the big time. The Weinsteins are looking to cash in on 2005's biggest fad, despite the fact that one of the writers of Rounders already made a spiritual sequel called Runner Runner, which was only watched by critics who hated it and no one else. Maybe they'll try to cash in on this hip new MMA thing and call it Rounders-house Kick.
#1. It's a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story
Everyone knows It's a Wonderful Life as the Christmas staple you watch bits and pieces of whenever you need a break from listening to your relatives. The sequel will star Karolyn Grimes, who played Jimmy Stewart's daughter Zuzu in the original and hasn't acted since before the Korean War ended. No other cast member could commit to returning, probably because they are all dead.
Grimes will play an angel who teaches Stewart's grandson how much better the world would be if he hadn't been born, which you may recognize as the exact opposite message of the original film. The producers nevertheless insist that their sequel will "retain the spirit" of the classic, possibly by having a plot twist where it turns out that Grimes is an agent of Satan trying to lead Bailey Jr. astray.
Then they'll release an enhanced edition of the original that includes ominous foreshadowing.
That title isn't a joke, by the way -- that's actually what they intend to call it. So now let's all think of names they should use instead. It's a Wonderfuller Life. 2 Wonderful 2 Life. It's a Wonderful Life 2: Live Harder. It's a Wonder2ul Li2e. And so on.
You can read more from Mark at his website.