I have nothing against clever movie marketing, but any instance of innovation in Teen Wolf, Too begins and ends with the title.
The sequel to Michael J. Fox’s initial foray into werewolfery is an easy target, but maybe because it takes what was unique, special, and even somewhat inspirational about the original (well, as much as those adjectives can apply to a teen sports monster comedy) and replicates the formula without adding any ingredients necessary to get the same result.
This time instead of Fox enduring puberty, high school basketball, and the family curse of lycantropy as a metaphor for finding comfort in one’s own skin, we get Jason Bateman attempting to transcend freshman year, collegiate boxing, and the family curse which he thought had skipped his side of the family. However, this is not a case of lather, rise, and repeat; instead it is more along the lines of blather, dense, and defeat.
This version opens with Todd Howard being driven to the campus of Hamilton University by his uncle Howard (James Hampton, reprising his role from the original) and meeting his roommate Styles (Stuart Fratkin, replacing the actor from the first film) and his cousin Scott’s friend Chubby, who now instead of playing basketball is an aspiring fencer and boxer.
Styles hopes Todd will come out of his shell and embrace his popularity via werewolfery as the protagonist in other movie did (after all, he is Teen Wolf, Too … get it?) but Todd is initially more focused on becoming a veterinarian and figuring out how his previous experience playing clarinet in marching band netted him an athletic scholarship at their new school.
That plot point is desperately explained by having the character of the original TW basketball coach (again, played by an actor different that the previous film) telling the aggressive school dean (John Astin, somehow simultaneously embracing both his quirky Adams Family and Batman TV roles without any of the smiles those parts offered) he hopes this offshoot from the family werewolf tree will blossom in the boxing ring.
From there, we get pretty much the same story as before of a young man seduced by popularity and athletic excess to the point that he chooses a flashy lifestyle over his good friends and buxom coeds over the quiet, studious girl who actually cares about him until he learns the error of his ways.
The only difference is this time we also get a ridiculous dance number set to a remake of the 1962 Contours hit “Do You Love Me (Now that I Can Dance)” and what can only be referred to as a sexy studying montage over the 1983 song “Send Me an Angel” by Real Life.
Where the whole thing becomes punch drunk is in its slavish replication of the original. Perhaps director Christopher Leitch (who only went on to directing episodes of TV shows after this) hoped to make some subtle commentary on the illegal and debatably immoral system of incentives routinely offered to collegiate athletes here, but instead the cartoony aspects applied to the material never allow that to be developed for more than anything but laughs.
When the plot remembers it has some athletic aspects to offer in the climatic boxing match between Todd and his rival from the Air Force Academy, it abruptly shifts gears into serious mode to make a point, but it just doesn’t have any heart or inspirational message left in the gas tank. The whole thing sputters to a foregone conclusion and the camera pans out to a celebration that feels both hollow and unearned.
Perhaps Teen Wolf, Too is a crowning achievement in ’80s movie excess in that it aims to offer both laughs about adolescence and some advice along the way in addition to acid-washed denim and a few songs by Oingo Boingo, but sadly it is ultimately forgettable and not even worth the training montage mandated by the time in which it was made.
Apparently there is a Teen Wolf series airing on MTV (insert your own joke here), but it is related to the first two films in name only as it takes more of a Twilight-inspired approach to the concept than seen here. I’m not sure if that is better or worse, but after watching this case of arrested development applied to Teen Wolf, Too I am pretty sure I don’t even care.
Teen Wolf, Too
Directed by: Christopher Leitch
1987, Starring: Jason Bateman, John Astin, Kim Darby, and Stuart Franklin.
Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes, Rated PG for cartoony violence and suggestive stupidity.