Squeakquels/Shaggy Sportsman #2 Teen Wolf Too
I’m a bitter and disillusioned man who clings to a few incontrovertible truths in a world of lies and confusion: Nazis are bad, Juggalos are not a gang and civilization and cinema both peaked when Michael J. Fox donned a basketball uniform and got into make-up to play Scott Howard, basketball-playing werewolf, in the the iconic 1985 surprise hit Teen Wolf.
What unites all of mankind is a fierce, universal desire to be loved and an even fiercer, even more universal desire to see a werewolf slam dunk a basketball.
So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that my beloved Scream Factory was putting out both Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too on Blu-Ray. I thought about re-watching Teen Wolf but I’m worried that in my fragile state if I were to find it disappointing or even sub-par the disillusionment would be shattering.
Michael J. Fox as a basketball-playing werewolf in the mid-1980s promises more than any film could possibly deliver, even a film named Teen Wolf so when I was selecting something from the Teen Wolf franchise to cover for this column that left only Teen Wolf Too, a movie I have no sentimental attachment to whatsoever, and for a good reason: it’s fucking garbage.
Unsurprisingly, it’s fucking garbage Michael J. Fox has nothing to do with. I can only imagine Fox talking to his agent around this time, and his ten-percenter saying, “Yeah, I got some scripts here. One’s a time-traveling comedy where you try not to fuck your mother and it’s tough cause she’s really hot, and really horny, but Eric Stoltz is already attached and in the other you’d be a werewolf that plays basketball. Canadian, too! Kind of cheap. Real A-list stuff, needless to say. Guaranteed to make you a big movie star, household name” and then giggling uncontrollably at the unlikeliness of such a scenario, unaware that this one-two punch would indeed make Fox probably the hottest, most popular young comic actor of the mid 1980s.
But before Fox bounced to the cushier, more expensive likes Secret of My Success he first had the good sense to say “Oh fuck no” to even cameoing in the terrible mistake that is Teen Wolf Too. Teen Wolf is inarguably the greatest movie ever made so Teen Wolf Too has a lot to live up to. Like, “my cousin is a basketball-star werewolf” a lot to live up to. Yet it pretty much broadcasts that it’s not even going to try with an opening montage of establishing shots of its setting, fictional Hamilton University, accompanied by the college’s gently narcotizing school song.
This opening is so low-energy that I half-expected a time traveling Jeb Bush to pop up in one of the frames and take a nap.
We’re then introduced to our new hero, Todd Howard, played by a young Jason Bateman at the height of his dreaminess, if not his talent. Todd is a buttoned-up brainiac who just wants to be left alone to pursue his dream of becoming a veterinarian but everywhere he goes people are putting strange pressure on him to earn his athletic scholarship by joining the college boxing team despite his complete lack of athletic experience and interest in sports.
What Todd doesn’t realize is that his scholarship was set up through Coach Bobby Finstock (Paul Sand), the basketball coach of his cousin Scott from Teen Wolf. Finstock, and apparently only Finstock, remembers that one time an ordinary human high school student became a basketball-playing maniac upon transforming into a werewolf.
In our world, the revelation that werewolves are real would be front-page news worldwide. If those werewolves also did sick reverse-dunks, no-look passes and bad-ass alley-oops, then they’d be the subject of screaming headlines everywhere. Yet Teen Wolf Too seems to see the whole “Werewolf basketball star” story as something that fascinated the local press for a little while, then was forgotten.
Todd spends much of the film’s interminable first half denying his animal nature and werewolf heritage until he’s pushed too far, his eyes glow red with rage and his lycanthrope secret identity becomes public knowledge. The first time Todd turns into a werewolf in public, he’s widely mistaken for some manner of dog-man, or man-dog.
In Teen Wolf Too everybody hates and makes fun of dog-men, or men-dogs. Accordingly, some of Todd’s classmates play a nasty prank where they hurl a petri dish full of fleas in hapless Todd’s direction when he’s in human form. Everyone hates dog-men, but once it comes out that Todd is a werewolf, and not a dog-man, everybody loves him.
Scratch that. Not everyone loves Todd after he becomes the Wolf. It’s safe to say boxers on opposing teams are not overjoyed about having to fight a literally super-human monster in a violent conflict of brute force. If I was a competing boxer and my opponent morphed from a geek into a monster beyond my imagination, my response would be, “Fuck that shit. No, seriously, fuck that shit. Did you not see when my opponent turned into a fucking werewolf? A fucking werewolf? As in, “He murdered twenty people with his teeth and claws” werewolf? You want me to fucking box a fucking werewolf? No fucking way. Either that monster leaves the ring or I forfeit.”
That’s not how it plays out in Teen Wolf Too, however. The little loved sequel shamelessly recycles the Gus rule, named after the moment in previous Shaggy Sportsman entry Gus where they look through the rulebook and discover that there’s nothing in it specifically banning a mule from kicking field goals. This is not surprising. Once you open the door to animals and fantastical creatures playing sports, there’s no limit to the kinds of scenarios that could never be explicitly banned because they can scarcely be imagined, let alone clearly specified as verboten.
For example, there’s nothing in the rule books that says a giant, radioactive sea monster like Godzilla can’t be a Sumo wrestler but it would not be fair to the other Sumo wrestlers to let him compete. There’s similarly nothing in ping pong rulebooks forbidding the Loch Ness Monster from playing competitively but that’s probably not a good idea.
Anywho, there’s apparently no rule against a werewolf boxing in college leagues but Teen Wolf Too sadistically makes us wait forty-five minutes before its bland, unlikable protagonist transforms into the Wolf for extended stretches. They apparently worried that audiences’ fragile brains would explode with over-excitement if they didn’t dole out Todd-as-The-Wolf scenes as stingily as possible.
Pre-transformation Todd is just kind of a jerk but when he embraces The Wolf his personality transforms dramatically, and instantly as he becomes what I can only describes as quite literally a “Party Animal”, part Spuds Mackenzie, half Poochie. He’s not quite a rapping, surfing kung fu hippie from Gangsta City but he does “croon” his way through an elaborate song and dance number set to “Do You Love Me”, which was made popular by the Contours.
Todd’s sidekick begins this abomination of a production number by bragging that his boy The Wolf can sing in addition to being a wiz on the basketball court, which makes the fact that Todd doesn’t even bother to try to lip-sync during the number so distracting I was unable to really focus on the terrible choreography or atrocious blocking.
Once Todd becomes the Wolf he’s all about feeding his urges, many of them sexual. Teen Wolf Too strongly suggests that a cocky and belligerent Todd/The Wolf takes advantage of his status as Big Werewolf on Campus to stick his hairy monster penis inside a series of willing and overjoyed groupies apparently unconcerned about the heavy intimations of bestiality at play when a part-man, part wolf monster has enthusiastic, debauched sex with a human woman. Or two. Or three. I’m not going to sex-shame, or slut-shame the Wolf so I’ll just say that this is a Teen Wolf Who Fucks.
But this lovable underdog doesn’t just stick his hairy member inside a slew of willing college hotties: he also punches a bunch of motherfuckers in the face repeatedly until they’re sprawled out on the canvas, physically destroyed by their physical clash with a literal monster. He’s our hero, incidentally.
The Wolf goes too far, however, causing all of the asshole friends who pushed him into becoming the Wolf so they could crassly exploit their friendships with him to turn on him. Yes, the Wolf is a big jerk. So in the third act the film fakes a redemptive arc for him by having Todd realize that being a giant monster gives him an unfair advantage in violent, potentially lethal sports of brute strength like boxing.
Todd decides to fight as himself rather than the wolf. In an even more nap-inducing development, he has to take a test or something, leading to that staple of sub-par college movie climaxes: the studying montage. The “studying” montage in Teen Wolf Too is the longest and most boring I’ve ever seen. I swear to God, it feels like it happens in real time. I could have gone back to college and gotten a second degree in the time it took for me just to watch it.
There are so, so many things wrong with Teen Wolf Too. It had to follow-up a movie with the greatest premise ever—high school werewolf becomes a high school basketball star—with what I think we can all agree is the worst premise ever—college werewolf becomes a collegiate boxing-team hero.
Teen Wolf Too took something that was sacred and beautiful and pure and perfect and made it silly. There were even times when the sequel felt implausible and unrealistic. These movies live or die on their verisimilitude and their outrageous hoops action and Teen Wolf Too comes up short on both counts.
If Teen Wolf is the best movie ever made, then Teen Wolf Too is undoubtedly the worst, but it is entirely possible that I may be overrating and underrating these movies dramatically by seeing the best and worst of all-time cinema through such a Teen Wolf-centric lens but I doubt it. I’m confident in my final judgements on these films, if not quite “Werewolf in a boxing ring” confident.
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