Will Mrs. Doubtfire be back for more hijinks? Work has leaked that that director Chris Columbus and star Robin Williams are working on a sequel to the smash hit 1993 comedy about a divorced father who pretends to be a British nanny in order to spend more time with his children. A script is being worked on by Elf writer David Berenbaum, and while the film is not yet a done deal, if the script satisfies both Columbus and Williams the movie could begin production as soon as next year. If the film is finished and released in 2015, that will mean there will have been 22 years between films, a fairly long gap considering sequels generally try to ride the momentum and success of their predecessors. With that long lag time, can a sequel possibly live up the beloved original? Mrs. Doubtfire cast member Mara Wilson has already voiced her opinion on that – she took to her Twitter to say that she believed the story ended where it should have ended. Is she right? How did other films with long gaps between sequels fare?
There was a gap of 13 years between the popular thrill Basic Instinct and its sequel Basic Instinct 2. This sequel suffered from a major problem – it only had half of the original film’s leads. The first film relied deeply on the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone as they engaged in a cat and mouse game. The sequel does not feature Douglas, and has Stone’s character go to Europe for a mostly unrelated escapade that critics found over the top and salacious without substance. The sequel did poorly and won the Razzie Award for best picture.
The sequel to Wall Street, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps was closer to Mrs. Doubtfire in its long gap between sequels – there was a 22 year span between the films. It was better received by critics than Basic Instinct 2, but not a total success. This sequel did manage to get Michael Douglas to return, which worked to its advantage, and also kept the original director, Oliver Stone. Around half of its reviews were positive, which for a sequel with that much time in between is not terribly bad.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull may be one of the most famous late sequels, though probably not for the reasons the filmmakers hoped for. This film was perhaps doomed from the start. By necessity, Indiana Jones was now a much older man, as there had been 18 years since the last film. Seeing the once virile man as sort of a grandfather-type character did not play well with fans, and was ultimately sort of depressing. Add to that the fact that the movie added aliens, which most fans of the franchise felt did not belong in an Indiana Jones film, and you have a bit of a debacle.
So if Mrs. Doubtfire does indeed get a sequel, it can hopefully learn a lesson from those other movie with long gaps in-between. It will have company as well – Independence Day and Dumb and Dumber both have sequels being released in the coming year. Ideally, those films will be able to avoid the traps the less well-received sequels fell into, and simply take things fans enjoyed about the first while still having something original to say. That is the recipe for a truly good sequel – hopefully the writer of Mrs. Doubtfire 2 is taking note.
Opinion by Alex Warheit