Did you get all jazzed when Jeff Daniels tweeted this picture of himself and Jim Carrey dressed in their Dumb and Dumber garb, the first photo from the classic comedy's sequel? Are you counting down the days until Anchorman 2 is released on Dec. 20? Do you just love it when studios succumb to fan demands and put out a sequel years after the original's release?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're wrong and you're ruining everything.
A Dumb and Dumber sequel is a terrible idea. Anchorman 2 will be a crushing disappointment. These sorts of comedy sequels that come out years after the original film (in the case of Dumb and Dumber To, two decades after) do little but ruin the pristine reputations of the classic movies they follow. They're cash grabs by studios that prey on fans that will pay $10 to see a film just because they feel like they've been heard, and answered.
The movie studios aren't really to blame here. Sure, if they had any semblance of artistic integrity, they — and everyone involved in the film, from writers to actors to producers — would recognize the rehashed sequel they're putting out is needless and inane. But movie studios are in this game to make money, their only concern is profit, and so if a film has an already built — in audience, they have no reason not to produce it. They're just feeding a rabid fan base. It's the fans who should know better.
The internet is the worst thing to ever happen to cult fandoms. It bred a sense of entitlement in these fandoms – even if Dumb and Dumber and Anchorman barely qualify as cult movies – so that fans feel as if they're owed a sequel. The internet gives fans a place to aggregate, feed off each other, as their demands grow ravenous and louder with each "tease" from actors and studios. How many times did Jim Carrey or Jeff Daniels hint at a D&D sequel before yesterday's picture? And each time only increased the call for a sequel. But here's the thing: fans are idiots. Fans don't know what they want — they think just because they loved the original, they'll love a sequel. They pay no mind to the inevitable letdown that comes with a sequel. When was the last time a comedy sequel was good? Fans have no interest in leaving well enough alone. They simply want and demand, and then shrug and move on when the sequel eventually disappoints them.
That's the paradox of fan-demanded sequels: the feverish devotion to the original that drives demand for another movie translates to impossibly high standards that a sequel has no chance of meeting. Why can't fans simply be happy with what they have? The internet age has created a gluttonous fandom that always wants more and is never satisfied.
Case in point: the fourth season of Arrested Development. The Netflix-exclusive series is patient zero for what happens when a cult fandom's prayers are answered. And the result is, predictably and inevitably, disappointing. There was no way AD season four was going to live up to the first three, not when it aired ten years later. Too much time had gone by, and the mere existence of a fourth season ruins what made the first three so special. AD was beloved to fervently because it was cut short, because it wasn't given time to grow stale. Wanting more was a part of the show's mystique. When fans were given what they wanted, well the entire series seemed a little less special.
The same thing will happen to Dumb and Dumber and Anchorman. Right now, those two movies sit among the top ten best comedies of the past twenty years. They're pinnacles of comedic film. But that doesn't mean their sequels will be anywhere near as good — in all likelihood, they will be huge disappointments, because the hype for these sequels is unsustainable.
Comedy is best when it's new. There is no such thing as a good old joke. And for sequels to movies made 10, 20 years ago, every joke is old. Let the classics stay classics. Don't dig up what should stay dead. Move on to something new and fresh. Create new classics. And let the fans be happy with what they have.