Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Original Plot: A mustachioed 1970’s San Diego news anchor loses his mojo when an ambitious blond cracks television news’ glass ceiling and wins his job.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Can you imagine Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd (and David Koechner) on the same team again? Paramount’s accountants couldn’t, so they nixed plans for a bigger-budgeted sequel in 2010. But c’mon, this has to happen. Director Adam McKay has said that he planned on making the sequel a musical, which would prove so much more than an ”Afternoon Delight.” I don’t know how to put this, but this would kind of be a big deal.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Original Plot: A chatty cripple named Verbal Kint, the sole survivor of a drug deal gone bad, spins the mythology of an omnipotent Turkish gangster named Keyser Söze.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Kint’s description of the long-haired demon who killed his own family rather than submit to a Hungarian drug gang is ultimately questionable, considering Kint’s habitual deceitfulness. But even as Suspects exposes Söze’s identity with its infamous twist climax, the origin of the ruthless mastermind whose greatest trick ”was convincing the world he didn’t exist” remains a compelling mystery.
Top Gun (1986)
Original Plot: A cocky fighter-pilot chasing the ghost of his flyboy father finds love, tragedy, and palpable homoeroticism at the Navy’s elite dog-fighting school.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because last we heard, the ”best of the best” was back at Miramar, playing volleyball, kissing civilian specialists, and training the knights who presumably went on to rule the skies over Middle Eastern battlefields. But now that the Russian Bear has awakened from its military slumber, maybe Maverick’s run-ins with the Soviet MiGs will require him back in the cockpit.
Independence Day (1996)
Original Plot: Belligerent aliens in giant spaceships annihilate famous manmade landmarks until a courageous American pilot and an idealistic scientist expose the aliens’ technological weakness.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because it violates every Hollywood law that this sequel has yet to be made. The aliens always come back — especially when the original film earns $817 million worldwide. Twelve years later, Will Smith is Hollywood’s biggest star and his dashing pilot would probably be president of a decimated United States.
True Lies (1994)
Original Plot: An undercover secret agent pursues an Islamic terrorist group threatening to detonate a nuke, while simultaneously spying on his bored and oblivious wife who he thinks is cheating on him.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because pre-Bourne Identity, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Harry Tasker was as close to an American Bond as Hollywood had ever produced. I blame James Cameron’s Titanic success and disgruntled California voters for preventing a follow-up. Mr. & Mrs. Smith picked up the slack, putting two secret agents under the same roof, but should the Governator step back in front of the camera, this is the franchise with the most meat left on the bone.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Original Plot: John and Jane’s teetering marriage receives a jolt when they each discover that the other is a rival top-secret assassin.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because it would star Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who we seem to prefer muscular (Wanted) rather than supple (A Mighty Heart). Throw in Vince Vaughn and maybe a supporting cast of ninja Benetton children. Stir. Count box office receipts.
The Incredibles (2004)
Original Plot: After superheroes were chased into retirement by frivolous lawsuits, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl squeeze back into their costumes to battle a self-made villain named Syndrome.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because writer-director Brad Bird (Ratatouille) can do no wrong. His animated hits combine adult sophistication with childlike wonder, and his characters are so fully drawn that they practically pop off the screen. There’s talk of a sequel, which makes sense since the original film’s ending introduced a new villain: the Underminer, who declares war on peace and happiness.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Original Plot: An FBI trainee probes the twisted mind of infamous cannibal Hannibal Lector in order to catch the serial butcher known as Buffalo Bill.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because I prefer to pretend that Hannibal (2001) and the Starling-less Red Dragon (2002) never happened, darn it. Jodie Foster is the only Clarice Starling. Her on-screen quid-pro-quo with Anthony Hopkins made for an uncomfortably mesmerizing Beauty and the Beast coupling, proving Lector correct about both Clarice and Foster when he said: ”The world is more interesting with you in it.”
Original Plot: In WWII Casablanca, where life is cheap, a woman from Rick’s past walks into his nightclub just as the Germans are plotting the arrest of a courageous resistance leader.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because this was supposed to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. All the obvious loose threads were pursued in Michael Walsh’s underwhelming 1998 novel, As Time Goes By, but there are still plenty of possibilities. Casting alone would be the most anticipated and overanalyzed beauty pageant since Gone With the Wind. Who’s your Rick: George Clooney or Clive Owen?
Before Sunset (2004)
Original Plot: Nine years after a chance romantic encounter in Vienna (see Before Sunrise), Jesse and Celine cross paths in Paris.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because we love how the characters evolved from starry-eyed university students into jaded adults whose memories of something pure both scarred and sustained them. But mostly because I’m not really sure what the ending really meant: Did Jesse stay?
Original Plot: A wounded Philadelphia police officer hides out among the Amish after the boy he’s protecting fingers a corrupt cop for a murder.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because as honest police officer John Book, Harrison Ford played a character whose DNA seemed to most share his own. (The role won him his only Oscar nomination.) While Ford is no stranger to sequels, resurrecting Book could be his Color of Money, an unexpected and belated sequel that ultimately rewards a lifetime of solid work.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
Original Plot: The United States goes to war against Canada after a profane film starring Canucks Terrance and Phillip corrupts the boys.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because we’ve lulled our crude northern neighbors to sleep after nine years and they would never suspect another attack. Because Saddam Hussein and Satan deserve another chance at happiness. But mostly because Trey Parker and Matt Stone would surely offend, blaspheme, and ridicule anyone and everyone in their own glorious way.
Eastern Promises (2007)
Original Plot: A soldier in London’s Russian mafia becomes conflicted when his boss orders him to eliminate the nosy nurse who asks questions about a dead girl.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because — SPOILER ALERT! — Viggo Mortensen’s goon is an undercover cop, and his ascension to head of his Russian crime family has the potential to marry the richest elements of The Departed with those of The Godfather. When Eastern Promises ends, Mortensen’s Nikolai is in a more precarious position than when the film began. Simply cue the accordion and roll film.
The Goonies (1985)
Original Plot: A band of teenage rejects races a trio of convicts through an underground maze of booby traps in search of pirate treasure.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because thanks to Jack Sparrow, pirate movies are back. Because Josh Brolin and Sean Astin are pseudo-stars. Because Corey Feldman is not. Because I miss the Truffle Shuffle. Because an entire generation grew up with a vicarious thrill for waterslides. And because the original film ended with an actual pirate ship sailing toward the horizon.
The Good Shepherd (2006)
Original Plot: An idealistic young Yalie joins the fledgling CIA after World War II and becomes consumed by Cold War spycraft leading up to the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because Matt Damon was positively brilliant as the cold-blooded spook referred to by his Soviet adversaries simply as Mother. Because corralling this caliber cast (William Hurt, Angelina Jolie, Michael Gambon, Billy Crudup, et al) for any reason at all is worth the trouble. And because director Robert De Niro envisions not just one, but two more films, chronicling the last half-century of the CIA.
Out of Sight (1998)
Original Plot: An escaped convict charming enough to rob banks simply by asking for the money risks his last heist for his infatuation with the beautiful U.S. marshal hot on his trail.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because even Chili Palmer would concede that director Steven Soderbergh crafted the coolest film ever based on an Elmore Leonard novel. And because the original left open the possibility of another jailbreak, fueling hopes that we haven’t seen the last of George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez’s illicit romance.
Bull Durham (1988)
Original Plot: A devout believer in the Church of Baseball is romantically torn between the team’s radioactive bonus baby and the worldly player-to-be-named-later.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And sometimes it rains. Think about it. More importantly, a universe that endured three Major League films can certainly allow Nuke LaLoosh to reassert his presence with authority.
Midnight Run (1988)
Original Plot: A disgraced ex-cop-turned-bounty hunter must deliver a daffy accountant from New York to Los Angeles before the mob or the FBI find him.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because a blueprint to a fine prequel about Jack Walsh’s Chicago run-ins with underworld kingpin Jimmy Serrano were already etched in George Gallo’s masterful script. Better to look back than forward, as the atrocious 1994 TV series, starring Christopher McDonald (a.k.a. Happy Gilmore‘s Shooter McGavin) as Walsh, proved.
The Truman Show (1998)
Original Plot: A mild-mannered insurance salesman comes to the surreal realization that his entire existence has been choreographed for a 24/7 reality show.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because the movie that foretold our obsession with reality television would be the ideal vehicle to comment on its corrosive side effects. Could Truman Burbank live a normal life outside the pristine set of Seahaven? Would his romance with Sylvia be splashed across the pages of US Weekly? Would he yearn for the ignorant tranquility he enjoyed before his awakening?
History of the World: Part 1 (1981)
Original Plot: From the dawn of man through the French Revolution, Mel Brooks depicts man’s evolution with all the wit of an accomplished stand-up philosopher.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because he promised. The title alone begs for a sequel, and at the end of the film, Brooks teased us with clips from a follow-up, including ”Hitler on Ice” and ”Jews in Space.” But maybe the joke is on us. After all, as Bea Arthur rudely insisted in the film: Stand-up philosopher is just a nice term for bulls— artist.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Original Plot: The laziest dude in L.A. gets wrapped up in a kidnapping plot when he’s confused for a stingy millionaire, but all he really wants is compensation for his peed-upon rug, which really tied the room together.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because the Dude is still out there, takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Donny’s ashes are tumbling with the tumbleweeds, but there’s a little Lebowski out there, right about 10 years old now. A boy that age could use a little guidance from his Pop, to make sure he learns how to abide.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Original Plot: As Napoleon’s armies march across Europe, Capt. Jack Aubrey and the British crew of the HMS Surprise play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a superior French vessel off the coast of South America.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because this Russell Crowe-starrer adapted only two novels from Patrick O’Brian’s 21-volume high-seas adventure series about Aubrey and his intellectual confidant, Stephen Maturin, played by Paul Bettany. Plus, the original, though 140 minutes, left off with the Surprise still in pursuit of the wily French captain.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Original Plot: Zen warrior Li joins forces with the beautiful Yu to reclaim a powerful jade sword and avenge the murder of his master.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because this dreamy, balletic action epic encompassed only the fourth book of author Wang Du-Lu’s Crane-Iron Pentalogy, meaning director Ang Lee could choose either prequel or sequel. Unfortunately, Sony and the Weinstein Company are currently squabbling in Canadian courts over the rights to produce.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Original Plot: Two sex-driven phonies risk their wedding-crashing lifestyle when they target the daughters of the Secretary of Defense.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Because of Wedding Crasher Code Rule #23: ”There’s nothing wrong with having seconds.” What about John and Jeremy’s new soul mates? Wedding Crasher Code Rule #5: ”Never let a girl come between you and a fellow crasher.” Rev up those motorboats, fellas.
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Original Plot: Forced into Alaskan exile after Homer contaminated Lake Springfield with Spider-Pig’s waste, the Simpson family rushes back home to save their city from the EPA.
Why a Sequel Could Rock: Um, because it’s The Simpsons. And if there was one complaint about their big-screen debut after 18 seasons on television, it was that C. Montgomery Burns, Springfield’s devious oligarch, was shortchanged. After all, if anyone could tackle the EPA, it would’ve been the owner of Springfield’s nuclear power plant. Now, let me hear a ”Boo-urns, boo-urns” cheer or I’ll unleash the robotic Richard Simmons.