Review by Katherine Follett
Posted on 10 May 2012
Source iTunes rental
Categories Favorites: Transformations
I’m not sure how I remembered Teen Wolf Too as a decent movie. I guess I have to chalk it up to being about nine when I first saw it, and confusing it in my memory with the first film. Before watching Too, I also re-viewed Teen Wolf, which, though not hugely original, was a perfectly enjoyable 80s teen comedy, with real-feeling characters, good acting, and a bit of human feeling. But Teen Wolf Too suffers from the worst kind of sequel-itis, including that cutesy mis-spelled title. The plot of Teen Wolf is rehashed almost exactly. Jason Bateman plays Todd, cousin of Michael J. Fox’s original Scott. He’s at college instead of high school. But he boxes (or, for some garbled reason, his school forces him to box) instead of playing basketball.
The “cousin” angle allows the filmmakers to recycle a host of characters from Teen Wolf – Scott’s friends Styles and Chubby, his basketball coach, his dad – with a disconcerting mix of original actors and replacements. The existence of these characters ranges from confusing (An incompetent high-school basketball coach manages to become an incompetent college boxing coach how? I suppose the logical next step is Olympic curling.) to insulting (Chubby loses all independence as a character and now exists only to eat and play the tuba.) to just plain lazy. (Oh look, it’s Styles. I remember Styles. He was cray-zee. Look at his cray-zee pants.) There’s so little attention to character that a viewer who hadn’t seen the original would be utterly baffled by the walking collections of quirks that populate the sequel. The love-triangle sub-plot of the first film also returns in a watered-down version. In Teen Wolf, Boo was the stock friend-zoned brunette, but she was also funny, lusty, and spunky. You can tell that Nikki in Teen Wolf Too is the “friendly nerd girl” because she’s a walking character blurb. She WEARS GLASSES and LIKES SCIENCE. Her rival blonde hottie doesn’t even have a discernible name. She is BLONDE. She LIKES… BEING BLONDE? Todd’s arc of liking Nikki to taking up with BLONDE to liking Nikki again all happens without cause or detail, only because it’s supposed to. The same can be said for Todd’s transformation from nerd to big-wolf-on-campus and back to believing in himself again. One minute he’s in the lab, and the next he’s in a shiny suit leading a choreographed dance routine at a fake-looking house party. All the fun of the original is lost in the sequel’s obligatory march from one re-hashed plot point to the next, with awkward pacing and bad dialogue to boot.
Even the few “original” details in the sequel only make everything worse. Boxing isn’t a team sport, so it’s hard to care when Todd starts assholishly taking all the glory for himself. And did the filmmakers really have to include so much drool during every round? The villain college dean, played with irritating mugginess by John Astin (best known as Gomez from The Addams Family TV show), drags around a supposedly threatening rottweiler whose constant overdubbed growls fail to negate his cuddly looks. And somehow, despite the fact that these characters are supposedly older than those in Teen Wolf, the film remains weirdly PG, with no hint of the sex and rebellion that leant realism to the original. In the first Teen Wolf, Scott uses his new powers to buy beer and sniff out a stash of weed. In Teen Wolf Too, Todd uses his to… change his classes.
It’s difficult to focus much on Todd’s physical transformations. It’s clear throughout the film that its budget is even less than that of Teen Wolf, or, honestly, that of the Thriller video. Todd’s switch from boy to wolf happens in discrete cuts, switching from non-transformed to fully-transformed with makeup already intact. There is almost no sense of an evolution from one to the other, and the makeup feels cheap and obvious. Jason Bateman can’t help being lovable, but his white-bread boyishness seeps through even full wolf makeup, and once transformed, he acts more like a pet than a wild animal. It’s telling that BLONDE mocks Todd by calling him a dog, and that he chases a frisbee on the quad. Mostly, I was just embarrassed for Bateman. Michael J. Fox, as harmless as we think of him, managed to give his wolf a believable cockiness. Uncle Harold’s transformations are also less effective. Harold is Todd’s uncle and Scott’s father, played by James Hampton in both films. In the original, the switch from Harold’s usual wholesome, dorky appearance to a werewolf was hilarious. In Teen Wolf Too, Uncle Harold transforms in the very first scenes, just to embarrass Todd, which kind of makes him a jerk, and makes the change a lot less funny.
There is one transformation that sticks with the viewer, or at least, one that I remembered from when I first saw the film. Todd’s mentor is his biology professor, played by Kim Darby. A tiny, bird-like woman, she is one of the few characters to feel like a real, lived-in person. She takes an affection to Todd, and when the Dean threatens him, she, in turn, threatens the Dean. Unexpectedly, her eyes glow red, and when she walks away, she sports a tail under her long skirt. (But wait, Todd, Scott, and Harold never had tails… do only girl werewolves have tails? Or did the filmmakers just not think this through at all? Door #2, obviously.) It’s one of the few satisfying moments in the movie; I believe credit is mostly due to Darby’s performance. But such a tiny detail can’t make up for the hash that is the rest of the film. Really, the most profound transformation in Teen Wolf Too was turning an entertaining movie into 95 minutes of crap.
In the Mouth of Madness1994
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids1989
The Toxic Avenger1984
Teen Wolf Too1987
An American Werewolf in London1981
The Curse of the Cat People1944
That Obscure Object of Desire1977
The Beast Within1982
The Family Man2000