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.
Hollywood’s two most famous birds must be Donald Duck and Woody Woodpecker. Between them they’ve starred in almost three hundred films.
This weekend Donald and Woody are joined by Tyler Blu Gunderson, a rare male Spix’s macaw, voiced by Jesse Eisenberg making his second big screen appearance in Rio 2. He’s joined by a cast of fine feathered friends, including a Yellow Canary (Jamie Foxx), a rapping Red-crested Cardinal (will.i.am) and a sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Jemaine Clement), as they leave their home in Rio de Janeiro for the Amazon rainforest.
The colorful co-stars in Rio 2 are animated which makes them a much more agreeable lot than Tippi Hedren’s cast mates in her most famous movie. In the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds she plays a wealthy socialite visiting Bodega Bay in Northern California when hundreds of ravens, seagulls and pigeons begin viciously attacking the townsfolk.
Some of the birds were props, but many of them were all too real. Actors with ground meat and anchovies daubed on them to entice the birds escaped with nips and scratches but Hedren took the worst of it during the shooting of the movie’s famous attic scene.
She had been told mechanical birds would be used to in the sequence that sees her trapped in a small room while birds attack her. When she arrived at the shoot she saw a cage built around the set and realized the plan had changed. For a week real birds were thrown at her by stagehands. Pecked and scratched by birds attached to her by elastic bands she screamed and sobbed as one of them gouged her eye. It was such a traumatic sight Cary Grant, who dropped by the set to say hello, said, “You’re one brave lady.
It’s no wonder Hedren chose Marnie, and not The Birds, as her favorite Hitchcock leading role.
As distressing as the shoot for The Birds might have been, the movie is now considered a classic.
That can’t be said for a film inspired by Hitchcock’s avian terror.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror director James Nguyen says the inspiration for his movie dates back to 2006 when he saw a flock of seagulls flying toward him at Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco. The sight reminded him of Hitchcock’s film, but he thought, “What if I make a movie where instead of seagulls and crows, it’s birds of prey? There’s nothing more shocking than eagles and vultures.”
The self-financed film took four years to finish and laid an egg in theatres before it became a cult hit as one of the worst film ever made.
When asked what Hitchcock would have thought of Birdemic Nguyen told Empireonline.com, “I think Mr. Hitchcock would forgive a lot of its imperfections and say, ‘James, you did what you could. Do another one and try to do it better.’”
Paris Hilton once said, “The way I see it, you should live everyday like it’s your birthday.” Of course she would think that way. She’s young. And rich.
Like death and taxes birthdays are one of the events that touch everyone’s lives. Not everyone loves to celebrate getting older—“There is still no cure for the common birthday,” said John Glenn—but Hollywood seems to enjoy throwing birthday parties—on screen at least.
This weekend in 21 and Over a med school student makes merry on his birthday with two of his besties. But like so many movie birthday parties it goes horribly wrong—or horribly right if you have a taste for humiliation, extreme drunkenness and debauchery.
Still, I’ll take humiliation over an onslaught of bloodthirsty seagulls any day. In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds a flock of real-life Angry Birds invade little Cathy’s outdoor party, pecking at the guests and ruining her big day.
Horror movies have frequently used birthday parties as a backdrop for terror. The alien invasion movie Signs made Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments list for a scene showing news footage of an alien at a child’s birthday party in Brazil.
The film Logan’s Run is set in an idyllic future. There’s just one huge drawback—on your twenty-first birthday you will be vaporized into a sticky goo during a ritual called the Carousel. “It takes all the fun out of dying,” says one character.
Then there are the bad cinematic gifts.
Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) eighteenth New Moon birthday saw her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) break up with her and in Old School Frank the Tank (Will Ferrell) gives a child a toaster for a present. “What do you think, Max? It’s got three speeds.”
In Taken Liam Neeson’s ex-CIA agent character is upstaged when he buys his daughter a karaoke machine for her birthday, while her stepdad gets her what she really wanted—a horse.
Not all movie birthdays are bummers, however.
Despite hiring a drunken clown to perform at his nephew Miles’s (Macaulay Culkin) birthday, Uncle Buck, played by the late, great John Candy, does the best he can to throw a great birthday party. The best part? He makes giant pancakes—they’re so extreme they now have their own facebook page with 290 likes—boasting, “You should see the toast. I couldn’t even get it through the door!”