Twenty years ago Roger Ebert wrote that a moment in Dumb and Dumber, “made me laugh so loudly I embarrassed myself.”
The movie, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the chicken-brained Lloyd and Harry, made 250 million dollars at the box office and seemed likely to spawn a sequel but nothing happened for almost twenty years. There was a prequel, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, but it was a Carrey-and-Daniel-less exercise in futility I called, “one of the least funny and ineptly made movies to ever play at your local multi-plex,” on its 2003 release.
So why did it take 19 years and 333 days to release a Dumb and Dumber follow-up? Carrey says he wasn’t into doing sequels but softened because everyone kept hounding him, he joked, “even dead people.”
Fans had to wait ages for Dumb and Dumber’s return, but two decades is a mere drop in the bucket when compared to the gap between the 1942 Disney classic Bambi and it’s sequel Bambi II. A ten-year-old who saw the original would have been old enough to send their grandkids to get popcorn refills when the sequel hit theatres overseas (it went direct to DVD in North America) almost sixty-four years later.
Thirty years after Alfred Hitchcock made seagulls menacing in The Birds a made-for television-movie called The Birds II: Land’s End revisited the killer avian story. Tippi Hedren, star of the original, signed on and it was shot in the house from the first film, but that’s where the similarities between the two end. The New York Times called the film “feeble,” and Hedren said, “It’s absolutely horrible, it embarrasses me horribly.”
29 years and 343 days after 1968’s The Odd Couple hit the big screen, writer Neil Simon and stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau reunited for The Odd Couple II. “We always had bad chemistry,” says Oscar Madison (Matthau). “We mix like oil and frozen yogurt.” It marked the last starring roles for each of its leads and the final collaboration between Lemmon and Matthau after making ten movies together.
These days Hollywood seems obsessed with sequels and next year will be no different. Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy in the role that made Mel Gibson famous, returns thirty years after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Jurassic World revisits Jurassic Park III thirteen years later. The biggest sequel news of the year—maybe of the decade—is the December 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the official Starr Wars chronology the new film follows 1983’s Return of the Jedi after a space of 32 years and 207 days.
In the new movie The Other Woman Mark King (Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights by cheating on his wife (Leslie Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton). “We got played by the same guy,” says Carly.
“Getting played” in Hollywood movies dates back further than the invention of the ashleymadison website.
In 1960 the Jack Lemmon movie The Apartment tackled the subject of adultery. The film, about a lonely insurance company lackey who allows his bosses to use his apartment as a trysting spot in hopes that they will promote him, was a big hit, but also a controversial one. The Saturday Review called it “a dirty fairy tale” and co-star Fred McMurray says a woman on the street hit him with her purse, taking to him to task for making “a dirty, filthy movie.”
2005’s Derailed, stars Clive Owen as a married man who hooks up with Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston) after meeting her on a commuter train. In a hormone induced rush they decide to consummate their illicit affair at a seedy hotel, only to be interrupted by a burglar who robs them and sexually assaults Lucinda. Things spiral out of control as the robber blackmails the couple and seems to have an unquenchable thirst for Owen’s money.
Derailed is a cautionary tale about staying faithful to your spouse and never, ever renting rooms in sleazy hotels. Part Fatal Attraction, part Hitchcock thriller the movie stays on track through the set-up of the story, but as soon as the going gets rough the story, well… derails.
The most famous infidelity movie has to be 1987’s Fatal Attraction. It begins with Michael “I’m a married man!” Douglas having a fling with Glenn “I’m not gonna be ignored!” Close. When he tries to break off their affair, she becomes a lesson in why not to cheat on your wife.
The film was a sensation on release, inspiring a number of imitators including The Crush, Single White Female and a spoof called Fatal Instinct, and its most famous clip, the rabbit boiling on the stove, even inspired a phrase in the Urban Dictionary. According to the website, cook your rabbit “refers to the moment when someone goes over the edge in their obsession with another person.”
In an interview twenty year after the film’s release Close said, “”Men still come up to me and say, ‘You scared the [crap] out of me.’ Sometimes they say, ‘You saved my marriage.'”
“Grand Hotel… always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.”
That famous line from the Greta Garbo film Grand Hotel is only half right. Hundreds of movies have used hotels as a backdrop for the action because people come, people go, but despite the quote’s assertion, there’s always something happening.
This weekend’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is a case in point. Starring Ralph Fiennes as a concierge at a European hotel between the world wars, it features an all-star cast, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel and Edward Norton. They are all part of the fabric of the hotel’s history, which includes assassins, murder, riches and a mysterious painting.
Hollywood has always recognized that the transient nature of hotels makes for great drama.
New York City’s Plaza Hotel has played host to many famous movie scenes. Everything from Barefoot in the Park to Funny Girl to The Great Gatsby has used the iconic hotel as a backdrop, but it is probably best known as a location for North by Northwest. In the Alfred Hitchcock film Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for a government agent and kidnapped from the ornate lobby.
The opening shot of Goldfinger features a stunning aerial view of Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel, which at the time was the most luxurious guesthouse on Miami Beach. Later in the film Bond Girl Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) dies of skin asphyxiation inside the hotel after henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) coats her whole body in gold paint.
In the 1920’s the Hotel del Coronado was a famous weekend getaway for Hollywood stars like Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn but the Victorian wooden beach resort found fame as the setting for several scenes in Some Like it Hot. Located on San Diego Bay across from San Diego, the beachfront location was the scene of one of the film’s most famous lines. When Jerry (Jack Lemmon) first spies Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) sashaying through the sand he says, “Look how she moves! It’s like Jell-O on springs.”
Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining after staying at the 140-room Stanley Hotel in Colorado. “I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years,” says Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) in the film version. “And not all of ’em was good.”
The Stanley has been used as a location for Dumb and Dumber and other films, but Stanley Kubrick chose not to showcase the place in his 1980 adaptation of the novel. Instead, much to King’s disappointment, he used Oregon’s Timberline Lodge as a stand-in for the film’s fictional Overlook Hotel.
Dec. 31 is one of the busiest nights of the year in bars and restaurants, which is precisely why I like to stay home. I don’t enjoy the crowds or the inevitable awkward midnight kissing that goes along with New Year’s Eve. But just because I don’t like to whoop it up in public doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate. I prefer to staycation, curling up with the P.M.C. (the Preferred Movie Companion), a bottle of something sparkly and a New Year’s Eve-themed movie.
For a romantic end-of-the-year mood I usually reach for The Apartment and watch Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon fall in love at their office New Year’s Eve party. Or I watch Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant sneak a kiss on Dec. 31, then make a deal to meet six months later on top of the Empire State Building in the soapy An Affair to Remember. But maybe the best mushy NYE scene comes from When Harry Met Sally. On New Year’s Eve (when else?) Harry says to Sally (who else would he say this to?), “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
For Harry, New Year’s Eve was the beginning of the rest of his life but for the ill fated passengers on The Poseidon it was just the opposite. We’ve all had disastrous end of the year parties but none match one of my other favorites, The Poseidon Adventure. Right in the middle of their on-board New Year’s party, a wild wave knocks the ship for a loop, sending 10 passengers on a watery New Year’s trek to safety.
There are dozens of movies filed under “Auld Lang Syne” in my collection, like 200 Cigarettes—set during New Year’s Eve, 1981—and Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks has an imaginary conversation with his late wife. ‘”Here’s to us,” he says, while we wipe a tear or two.
There’s others like Sunset Blvd. and Bridget Jones’s Diary, but perhaps the greatest New Year’s Eve scene happens in The Godfather, Part 2. At a New Year’s Eve party in Havana, at the stroke of midnight, Michael Corleone grabs his brother Fredo, gives him a kiss, and says, “I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart.” Terrified, Fredo disappears, which gives new meaning to “may old acquaintance be forgot…”