With Hollywood cranking out sequel after sequel in an effort to squeeze every penny out of once-glorious film franchises, it's time for more actors to ask this: At what point should you just say no to a movie sequel? (Let's not ask Rosanna Arquette. She reportedly just signed up to appear in the next installment of American Pie. Even George Lucas is rolling his Jar-Jar Binks eyes at that news.) Here are some informal criteria we came up with between repeated viewings of The Godfather, Part III and Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Actors, clip and save this for when that phone rings and your mortgage is past due.
1 WHEN YOU WEREN'T IN THE ORIGINAL: You know why everybody forgets that 1979's Meatballs — Bill Murray's breakthrough movie role — had a sequel? Because Richard Mulligan starred in it. The same casting craziness killed any chances for Caddyshack 2 (Jackie Mason for Rodney Dangerfield, and Dan Aykroyd subbing in for Murray), Son of the Mask (Jamie Kennedy for Jim Carrey) and Blues Brothers 2000 (John Goodman for John Belushi). Even Steve Guttenberg and his beloved Blue Oyster Bar gave up after four Police Academy movies.
2 IF THE MOVIE IS GOING STRAIGHT TO DVD: Entertainment Weekly says the new American Pie sequel is going that route, and Arquette, right, signed up for it anyway. Tragic. Was Shannon Tweed not available?
3 IF YOU'RE THE GOVERNOR OF A LARGE STATE: We loved Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Conan and Terminator sequels. We might have even green-lighted Kindergarten Cop 2. Though it's rumored that the Governator will appear in the upcoming Terminator Salvation, reports are that the sequel's director is using only digitally manipulated images from the 1984 original. California, you can rest easy.
4 IF YOU'RE TOO OLD TO PLAY YOUR FORMER ROLE OR THE MOVIE HAS ALIENS: Harrison Ford, we're looking at you. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a disaster. The franchise could have ended triumphantly with 1989's The Last Crusade. But if you like aliens so much, Harrison, and given that you're now 66, perhaps a Cocoon sequel would have been more practical.
5 IF THE MOVIE HAS 'ROCKY' IN THE TITLE: Sorry, Sylvester Stallone.