FTP: Teen Wolf Too (1987)

AUGUST 28, 2023


I've had Teen Wolf *and* Teen Wolf Too sitting in the pile since they came out from Scream Factory 5-6 years ago, upgrades from a barebones double feature release on DVD that must have made their fans very happy. But I was not among them; I saw the first film as a kid and didn't think much of it then, and never bothered with the sequel. And it turns out my 6-7 year old self was correct in thinking the first one wasn't very good, but what I only now realized was that watching them back to back did the sequel no favors, since it's pretty much the same movie that wasn't that good in the first place.

I mean, honestly, if more people actually saw the second film (in which original star Michael J Fox is only mentioned; new star Jason Bateman is said to be the character's cousin) it'd probably be namechecked along with Home Alone and Hangover sequels for being so lazy when it came to plot points. Bateman's character turns into a werewolf when stressed, butts heads with the head of the school he attends, ignores the "girl next door" type who is in love with him in favor of a snobby girl, becomes popular due to his werewolf antics helping him with a sport (basketball there, boxing here), etc. At no point does the film even try to do anything different, and eventually I realized that perhaps it wasn't Bateman's substitution that was the problem, but that it gave the filmmakers license to repeat everything, whereas with Fox at least they'd have to give him SOMETHING different to do unless they wanted to just give the character amnesia.

But at least they allowed Bateman to play a different character, as others weren't so lucky. The wacky Stiles returns with a different actor, as does Coach Finstock, who (as with the first film, at least for me) is the only one who got any laughs out of me. The actors playing Coach look and act a lot alike, but the two Stiles are very different, which makes me wonder why they bothered saying it was the same character if it wasn't going to be the same actor and they'd have different vibes (beyond a general "the cool buddy" presence)? It's not the only odd decision in the movie, but it's one that will likely bug people the most. The only two people who DID return are Mark Holton as (oof) Chubby, and James Hampton as Fox's character's dad, who is Bateman's uncle (Bateman's parents are vaguely dead, another recycle from the first which had Fox's mom's unexplained death), neither of which I assume were enough to make up for Fox's absence among fans (nothing against Bateman, of course. He's fine.)

The only real change is that it seems they decided since the first one wasn't that funny anyway, they'd just largely omit jokes altogether this time around. There are a few antics and sight gags here and there, and again the Coach is amusing because he's always so checked out (Bateman asks if he has any advice while the former is getting his ass kicked in the boxing match, and Coach replies "No?" as if he didn't even understand why he was being asked - it was my only audible laugh for the entire film), but mostly it's just kind of coasting through each scene and setpiece as if the sheer silliness of a guy (occasionally) becoming a wolf would be enough of an audience pleaser. I mean, it barely worked the first time around, and now we don't even have the novelty? It's the rare sequel that would actually work slightly better if you hadn't seen or even been aware of the first movie at all.

It's also odd that they don't really explore the werewolf legacy, as you'd expect a sequel to get into the mythology of such things. But honestly I feel Bateman spends even less time than Fox did in wolf mode (he once again opts to have his final sports match in human form, leaving the wolf out of the last act entirely), though the design is pretty bad and there are no transformation effects to speak of, so whatever. At one point Hampton transforms into a wolf and then back to human in between cuts (Bateman asks him to do so, as he's embarrassed about it all), so apparently it's something that only takes about a second or two. Outside of the repeat of the school head being threatened by a werewolf who is protective of the lead (Hampton in the original, Bateman's teacher here, played by Kim Darby), one could tune in to the final 20-25 minutes of this movie and not even realize it was about a werewolf at all.

The weirdness continues into the bonus features, which are presented as interviews with a few key players (director Christopher Leitch, a few of the supporting actors), but have clearly been broken up from a longer retrospective (which is what was offered on the first film), as the participants appear in the other folks' interviews as well, as do people who worked on the first movie and a film historian type. I assume they wanted to make the package more attractive by touting five bonus features instead of just one, but I mean... I'm pretty sure the people that wanted this movie were going to buy it regardless. None of them were particularly enlightening beyond the relief that no one seems to be of the illusion that the movie was very good, though the new Stiles does note that he was originally doing improv that the director liked, and perhaps would have made the movie funnier, but the producers didn't care for it and told them both to just stick to the script from then on. No new ideas or creativity allowed onscreen in Teen Wolf Too!

What say you?


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