In a new exclusive that I honestly thought was a joke, Variety reports a sequel to the Frank Capra Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life is in development. If all goes smoothly, it will hit theaters a whopping sixty-nine years after the original.
The new film, called It’s A Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, will star Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s (Jimmy Stewart) daughter Zuzu in the original – remember her petals? – as an angel who shows George Bailey’s unlikable grandson (who will also be named George, because screw you, that’s why) “how much better off the world would have been had he never been born.”
OK, let’s get through the initial shock that Hollywood is looking to add onto the story of a Christmas classic all these years later and actually parse what that story synopsis really means.
Zuzu is George’s daughter in the first movie. If George’s grandson is the main character in this follow-up, that means that George 2.0 will either have to be Zuzu’s son or her nephew. (George 1.o had three more kids – Pete, Janie, and Tommy – so 2.0 could be one of their offspring.) If Variety’s synopsis above is correct, that means that an angelic Zuzu will come to Earth and show either her own son or her nephew how the world would be a better place IF HE’D NEVER BEEN BORN? What a terrible thing to show someone!
In the first movie, the story was the exact opposite: George 1.0 was about to commit suicide, but thanks to the intervention of the goofy angel Clarence, he was shown how much worse the world would be if he didn’t exist. This lesson gave him a newfound sense of appreciation about his life and taught him to value important things like family and friends over slaving away at work.
So there are two options here: either Variety has a typo in their story synopsis and this new movie will actually be a thematic retreading of the first film (in which George 2.0 learns an important lesson), or this sequel is going to be a freaking DARK movie. How messed up would it be if your dead mother (or aunt) appeared to you as an angel and showed you in graphic detail just how better off the world would be if you were never born? Sounds like some “Ghost of Christmas Future” stuff if you ask me.
If you’re wondering who is responsible for this idea, look no further than Allen J. Schwalb of Star Partners and Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird. They’re producing the movie, and Farnsworth wrote the screenplay with Martha Bolton. And Grimes won’t be the only character reprising her role if they have their way: Jimmy Hawkins, who portrayed Tommy Bailey, and Carol Coombs, who played Janie Bailey, are in talks to return as well. The producers haven’t found a director yet, but they’re aiming for a 2015 holiday release date.
Though it wasn’t a huge hit upon its initial theatrical release, It’s A Wonderful Life went on to cement its place in film history as a Christmas classic, and the American Film Institute deemed it the most inspirational American film ever made. These new filmmakers will have to excuse me if I’m not immediately jumping for joy at the prospect of a sequel to what many consider one of the best movies of all time. I’m actually still sort of shocked that Variety’s report wasn’t some kind of weird joke. This is some of the strangest film news I’ve heard in a long time.
And in case you’ve never seen it, check out the “lost ending” to It’s A Wonderful Life from the folks at “Saturday Night Live.”
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