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It’s a Wonderful Life Is Getting a Gritty Sequel

OK, OK. “Gritty” might be pushing it. But the plot synopsis of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story (yes, that’s the title) has more than a twinge of the ridiculously depressing, even if it’s unintentional.

How do you even begin crafting a sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the most beloved Christmas films of all time? Well, to start, you get some pedigree in the form of Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu (she of the petals) in the original film and will earn her wings as the requisite angel character in the sequel. And according to co-producer/co-writer Bob FarnsworthThe Rest of the Story will “[retain] the spirit of the original – every life is important as long as you have friends,” which sounds like a good start.

So what’s the plot of this film going to be? Via Variety:

“[Grimes will play] an angel who shows Bailey’s unlikeable grandson (also named George Bailey) how much better off the world would have been had he never been born.”


The original It’s a Wonderful Life is already pretty depressing. There’s the suicide aspect, of course, and the “abandoning what you love” theme. And then you have the fact that self-sacrificing hero George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is, pardon my French, a bit of a jackass. Don’t get me wrong—I love it. It gives the movie depth. But seriously. Morally speaking George is a wonderful man, but personality-wise Bailey Park could’ve been called Jerksville.

But “the world would be so much better if you hadn’t been born” is beyond the pale. It’s basically A Christmas Carol, and that turned out well for Scrooge, just as I’m sure things will turn out well for not-Jimmy Stewart. But when the purpose of the original alternate universe jaunt was to convince a character not to commit suicide, it’s hard for my brain not to jump to “This sweet angel is trying to get this dude to off himself on Christmas.”

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Unintentional Psychological Thriller.

(via: Variety)

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  • Joshua S. MacDougall

    No, nope, nonononono. This is not okay.

  • Anonymous

    personality-wise Bailey Park could’ve been called Jerksville.

    So it was part of Earth-616, then?

  • Seth Brodbeck

    Working title: “It *Was* a Wonderful Life (Until You Came Along)”.

  • carmen webster buxton

    Bad idea with a capital B! And how do you update that story? I love that movie, but I always cringe at the scene where Jimmy Stewart (George) finds out that because he wasn’t there to save her– er, marry her– the Donna Reed character suffers a fate worse than death and becomes — an old maid librarian! Really, that was the worst thing the writers could think of!

  • Pomfelo

    Flaws from the original aside, please tell me this is an Onion-esque satire.

  • Adrian

    Oh Zuzu, you have failed me.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one who thought they said Frank Grimes at first.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    The yelling at his wife and kids put him in the “jerk” box for me. Hey, I like it. He’s a more interesting character than your typical sitcom dad. He’s still a good guy, morally. He’s just not a nice one.

  • Captain ZADL

    Sounds like what my parents say to me.


  • Captain ZADL

    Never seen the original, have even less reason to now.

    I’ve also never seen The Sound of Music.

    I managed to avoid Miracle on 34th Street for 40 odd years, until my girlfriend forced me. I’m holding fast to these two though.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Wow. A) That sounds horrible. Completely heartless.

    B) They already did a sequel. Ages ago. Called Clarence. We had it on VHS. I think Clarence came back, but young and attractive(?) and possibly fell in love (but maybe didn’t stay? Heck if I remember).

    C) That sounds horrible. Completely heartless.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Yeah, but there’s still some pretty unfortunate implications. Librarian is usually synonymous with “spinster” for one, but mostly that Not Being Married is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. Because back then…yeah, actually, society treated you pretty low if you were an old maid.

  • Stephanie Hull

    Um, It’s A Wonderful Life already is an unintentional psychological thriller. That shot of Jimmy Stewart’s wide-eyed terror after his own mother doesn’t know him? It’s intense.

  • Erin Treat

    Everyone in a marriage yells at their spouse and children at some point. If you don’t you aren’t human. There’s a difference between being emotionally distraught and lashing out, and being a jerk or abuser.

    I don’t see how that wasn’t clear to you from the movie Rebecca. He certainly didn’t make a habit of yelling at them. Just in that one particular instance he thought his life was falling apart. Kind of the catalyst of the rest of the movie right there.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yes, the scene where he’s yelling at the end is an extenuating circumstance. But in the movie as a whole it always seemed to me that the constant disappointments in his life made him bitter. He’s snappish at people. He’s impatient. He’s occasionally rude. And he’s nice, too! But he’s far from being some great guy. That contributes to the message movie as a whole, because it’s only at the end that he realizes it’s not the money and the job—the things he always saw as so important—that give his life true value.

    I’m sorry, but I’m going to stick with my interpretation on this one.

  • Elizabeth Wells

    The Nostalgia Critic already did this

  • Starman


    There’s no way it can possibly top the original ending to It’s A Wonderful Life.

  • Samantha

    George *is* a great guy, and he’s also an utterly broken one. His entire life has been a series of choices between his own dreams and the welfare of others, door after door slamming forever shut as he makes the ‘right’ choices (and the townsfolk are happy to take advantage of this), until he’s consumed by suicidal despair. And this is played absolutely straight, as is that terrible scene when he snaps at his family. It’s terrible not because he’s angry, but because -at that moment- everything he’s sacrificed has been for nothing: he’s going to jail, his father’s business has failed, his family will be ruined, and the bad guy has won. He knows that, and his family knows something is very, very wrong.

    Which is why it boggles me that anyone would think this needs a ‘dark-n-gritty’ remake, because you don’t GET much darker than It’s A Wonderful Life. I’m also sad for people who avoid it as a ‘corny Christmas film,’ because it’s genuinely well-directed and acted in addition to having some powerful moments. And no problems are solved by Clarence the angel, either. He may show George that his life wasn’t the waste he imagined it to be, but in the end Potter is never punished for his theft and manipulation, the bank is still in trouble, and the Bailey’s are still poor.

    The AV Club wrote up a few articles detailing this:–90139

  • Samantha

    You’re missing out, then. It’s a Wonderful Life and The Sound of Music are easily better films than Miracle on 34th Street, the former especially so.

  • frankenmouse

    Thank you for this. Last year I finally watched (really, actually watched) It’s a Wonderful Life as an adult and it was, frankly, heartrending. George losing the money wouldn’t have just gotten George in trouble, it would have meant that many people would have been kicked out of their homes by Potter. George wasn’t just looking at his own destruction, but the destruction of his whole town for something that (in his mind, at least) was entirely his fault.

  • Mina

    *sigh* Some sequels just don’t need to be made.

    Actually a lot of sequels don’t need to be made.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Honestly, I think we’re saying the same thing different ways here. He’s a great guy in terms of morals, I agree. Like you say, he’s been broken down and embittered by life. My view is that he tends to take that out on other people, as in the scene when Mary gets back from college and George is frankly HORRIBLE to her. And the scene right before that, with his mom. Not that that means he’s some horrible person! He’s been dealt an awful hand. He has every reason to be kind of a jerk to other people… which he often is.

    It’s a Wonderful Life is a much darker, more nuanced film than its rep as a happy Christmas film gives it credit for. And Bailey’s part of that. He’s not the squeaky clean protag of a squeaky clean film, and Stewart doesn’t play him that way.

  • Robert Vary

    So wait, this… this is basically going to be a full-length adaptation of the “It’s a Bundyful Life” episode of Married With Children, where Sam Kinison shows Al how much happier his family would be without him? But, like… for serious?

  • ToTripoli

    The Sound of Music is a fantastic film. The only reason to think it’s not is if you dislike musical numbers (in which case, stay away from Mary Poppins & pretty much every Disney film ever).

  • Elias Algorithm

    They did it in Psych too. Heck, any long running tv show with a holiday episode will eventually do an “homage”. So there’s no point in this movie.

  • Beverly Ann Nelms

    Seen the original, and am in the minority who hate it. His dream is to be an architect. He wants to build towers. What does his beloved wife, the one who is supposed to be his biggest support say? You can’t do it and I won’t help you follow your dream. Grow up.
    He married the wrong woman. Marriage isn’t there to keep your feet on the ground, it’s to help you to fly.
    Hold fast to not seeing The Sound of Music. The whole thing has some very creepy moments in it.

  • Anonymous

    Aw, I wanted a Frank Miller-esque reboot! With blackjack! And hookers! In fact, forget the reboot!

  • Rebecca Pahle

    “George Bailey devotes his entire life to his family, friends and town, giving up his dreams of college and world travel to run an S&L. ”

    I’m not saying that’s not true. Everything you’re saying is right! But he’s also a jerk. He was horrible to Mary in that scene when she came back from college, yelling at her and shaking her and intentionally pretending he didn’t remember “lasso the moon.” Bad things happen to him, and he takes it out on other people. It doesn’t mean he’s not a good guy. But he’s not an entirely nice one, either. It’s a Wonderful Life and George are much less squeaky clean than their reputations give them credit for.

  • Elizabeth Wells

    I haven’t seen the Fairly Odd Parents version, although I generally like that show (it’s more thoughtful than it gets credit for). In the end though, the Nostalgia Critic, as a cynical jerka$$ adult character, is a better choice for a reverse “It’s A Wonderful Life” than ANY child character.

  • Lady Viridis

    It still implies that getting married/being in a relationship is the only way to have real happiness. Maybe she was perfectly happy and fulfilled being a librarian. I don’t know, the whole “soul mate” or “finding the one” idea just doesn’t work for me. First, the odds are less depressing if you assume multiple possible mates, and second, even if your plans for life don’t work out the way you had hoped, that doesn’t mean you can never be happy.