They’re not the franchises we look forward to. They’re not the latest from Christopher Nolan or the Marvel comic universe. Instead, they’re the flukes, the unfathomable continuing series that make no sense cinematically or artistically. The only reason they exist, aside from the desire by audiences to see what the latest installment has in store, is that all powerful predictor of success and support: money. Indeed, what makes any franchise a viable business model is the notion that name alone will guarantee good box office (or in the case of direct to video variables, continuing rentals and sell-throughs). And it’s not just on the home front. Many members of this corrupt collective get by because non-English speaking countries just can’t get enough of their action oriented/brightly colored creativity.
Still, you will notice a bit of a pattern here. Among the ten listings, half are oriented around the wee ones. Kids, it seems, are the primary cause of an unnecessary franchise. Just give them moving objects, brightly tinted caricatures, and just enough interest to keep their already lax attention span in check, and the results reap profits. Of the other five, three are horror an two cater to tweens—again, demographics that eat up almost everything put in front of them. While here are many more entries we could offer, we’ve chosen to avoid those based on other source material (sorry potential #1 Twilight) or with certain successes among their failures (aka the Burton/Schumacher Batman films). No, these are the 10 continuing legacies that should have been stopped before they could aesthetically procreate again, beginning with one of Full Moon’s most memorable:
Without a doubt, the VCR changed the motion picture marketplace forever. Studios and offshoots soon learned that popularity could come in parts and still be considered a commercial triumph. Thus we have efforts like this—evil dolls tormenting victims in film after fetid film. Even the attempts at backstory and character reconfiguration couldn’t make these animate aggressors anything more than grade Z schlock. With the advent of CG, it’s amazing that more of these films aren’t out in the macabre mainstream. In the ‘90s they were a known quantity. Today, they’re a shoulder shrug.
Competitive cheerleading, usually set within a strangled urban/suburban backdrop has made this otherwise unnecessary franchise incredibly popular with the prepubescent teen set. Girls just can’t get enough of smart mouthed minorities coming into the all white realm of the popular gal clique and making mincemeat out of their so-called dance moves. Add in a lot of tween pop drivel and a last act contest meant to mimic redemption and you’ve got the Bieber set’s initiation into the world of passable peer pressure. Thanks to DVD, one imagines an endless string of knock-offs on the horizon.
For kids in the ‘60s, Ross/Bagdasarian, Sr./Dave Seville’s sped up song stylings were The Simpsons. He was taking popular culture and in the guise of a trio of animated rodents, he turned every hit into “They’re Coming to Take Me Away”. Reinvented by his son to ‘sing’ to the current underage set, the new Chipmunks have Jason Lee and David Cross to cash paychecks with, as well as the occasional nod to their ‘80s zenith as a Saturday morning mainstay. While miles away from their ordinary origins, these new crooning critters continue to make bank, meaning someone will continue to make movies with them.
In one of two stunt casting corruptions of the always impressionable ankle biter demo, we have a group of overpaid actors and should know better stand-ups trading bad puns and ridiculous routines for the sake of anthropomorphized wildlife. With horny hippos, highly strung giraffes, and motormouthed zebras, it’s not hard to see why adults and kids love this law of diminishing comic returns. You know you’re in trouble when Chris Rock can’t conjure up a legitimate laugh, while celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith and Ben Stiller seems present to merely take up cartoon space.
And here is our second installment of comedians trading their talent for a bit of filmic “F-You” money. Hey, everyone deserves a decent payday, but hasn’t David Schwimmer and Ray Romano earned more than enough cash from their forever in reruns TV work? At least Denis Leary deserves a place in permanent Comic-Con consideration. In fact, the latest installment (hitting theaters on 13 July 2012) seems bent on blending the series with another popular cinematic staple, the pirate film. At this rate, whatever was commercial five years ago will be fodder for the next Ice affront.