The first thing I did when I saw the news of a proposed sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life (after this) was check the Onion‘s archive to make sure that Variety, which first broke the story, didn’t somehow pick it up by mistake. Honestly, that would be a much simpler explanation than there actually being an It’s a Wonderful Life sequel in the works. Frank Capra‘s film arrived in theaters nearly 70 years ago and had an ending that rivaled Citizen Kane with respect to its finality.
Is there literally anyone in the world who gets to the end of It’s a Wonderful Life and thinks to themselves, “Oh man, that was great and I’m practically in tears, but what I’d really like to know is what happened to George Bailey after he was visited by his guardian angel, and virtually every person he’d ever known saved his life by showering him with tens of thousands of dollars and the world’s greatest rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne.’” I’d argue that one of the best things about It’s a Wonderful Life is the fact that it ends at the exact right moment. When you finish watching it with your family on Christmas Eve, it’s like George and the rest of Bedford Falls stays in the Bailey’s living room, singing and celebrating for as long as your imagination is able to hold the image.
So naturally, because it’s 2013 and everything we once held dear must be destroyed, Hollywood wants to burn that image to the ground. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more It’s a Wonderful Life as long as it has to do with the original—I’d gladly listen to hour after hour of audio commentary and behind-the-scenes interviews (Did you know that the crashing sound heard when Uncle Billy walks off scene after leaving Harry’s wedding was caused by a prop guy who had accidentally knocked over some lighting? And that director Frank Capra liked it so much he kept it in the final cut?). Paramount—which now owns the rights to the original film and its characters—has declared that it will block any attempt to make a sequel, but the studio never should have been put in the position to make such a statement in the first place.
If the idea of sequel-ing It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t immediately infuriate you, the proposed plot certainly should:
Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s daughter “Zuzu” in the original, will return for the “Wonderful Life” sequel as an angel who shows Bailey’s unlikeable grandson (also named George Bailey) how the world would be if he had he never been born.
That might sound awfully familiar to you because it’s basically the plot to the tens of thousands of versions of A Christmas Carol you’ve already seen. There’s nothing wrong with the Dickens classic, but it’s also a completely different thing from It’s a Wonderful Life. And the two certainly don’t need to be any more closely associated than they already are. Also, how does George Bailey end up with an unlikeable grandson? That seems like a genetic impossibility.
In addition to Grimes, the actors who played Tommy Bailey (Jimmy Hawkins) and Janie Bailey (Carol Coombs) are also reportedly slated to reprise their roles—not that you should care since Grimes and Coombs haven’t acted in more than a half-century (Hawkins’ last role was in 1974). But wait, there’s more:
- Producers say they want to film in Louisiana, where there is no winter.
- The film is tentatively titled It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, which—aside from being the least inspired title in movie history—would make it a very short film since there is no rest of the story to tell.
- The budget for the film will reportedly be between $25-35 million, which seems like a lot of money to spend just to ruin the 2015 holiday season, especially when it could be spent funding part of Fast & Furious 9 or really anything else that isn’t this.
Is it possible that this movie actually gets green-lit and manages to evoke fond memories of the original while simultaneously providing a new holiday classic for the Milennial generation? That it manages to silence all the skeptics while becoming a wildly successful, critically-acclaimed box office hit? No. Not is is not. Kill this movie. Kill it with fire.