Franchise Fred Interview: Fred Wolf on Joe Dirt 2 and Groundhog Day 2


Fred Wolf and I had even more to talk about than Franchise Fred. It’s rare enough that you meet someone else with the name Fred, so much that there is a Fred Club. At least Fred Willard once told me there was. Wolf returns to cowrite and direct Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser premiering July 16 on Crackle.

When I introduced Franchise Fred, Wolf and David Spade asked if Sequel Sam had a follow-up question. This led me to speculate on other alliterative names who might have the same passion I have for sequels, but for different tangents. Wolf and I spoke about Joe Dirt 2 and my sequel philosophy, and I think I’ve won him over to my cause.

Franchise Fred: Not only am I Franchise Fred, but we’re both members of the Fred Club. Have you heard of that?

Fred Wolf: Yeah, I have.

Franchise Fred: I don’t know about Sequel Sam, but I think Remake Rick must be my enemy.

Fred Wolf: You remember Goofus and Gallant in Highlights magazine? Goofus always did everything wrong and Gallant was great? You can be Gallant and Remake Rick could be Goofus.

Franchise Fred: Reboot Rachel might be my wife. We’ve built a whole world for this, but I am sincere. I feel there’s always more story to tell with everything. Conventional wisdom is stories have to end, but I just don’t believe nothing interesting ever happens to those characters again. Where do you stand on the spectrum?

Fred Wolf: Well, I do know that if I love a movie, I can say a movie right now that I love and I sometimes worry that a movie has come full circle within that first movie. I’ll say Groundhog Day which is one of my favorite comedies of all time. I’d be hard pressed to say how would you do a sequel to Groundhog Day. But if enough time has passed between the first one and now, there might be an angle that they have because of the maturity they all went through maybe. In a way, that’s what happened to us in a sense because my dad abandoned my family. He had some trouble along the same lines so the first one was kind of organic to the way we felt about things and why were you rejected and abandoned.

joe-dirt-2-beautiful-loser-Joe-Dirt-Wedding-IMG_0901_rgbThis one here, I have two daughters. They’re young and they’re getting a bit older. What would happen if they found out that I’m a fraud, that I’m a bad dad and how heartbreaking that would be to me? It felt organic after all these years to have a drive like that. I don’t know if I would have wanted to have done this if it was just two years after the first one, it was a bunch of jokes and we didn’t have the same drive that the first one had. So I was really happy to do the sequel at this point in time because my daughter’s at that age where I’m understanding it would be terrible if they stopped thinking I was Superman.

Franchise Fred: That’s what’s so interesting about sequels. You can do the one after another, pick up right where the last one left off. Or, revisit it 10 or 20 years down the road and see where those characters are.

Fred Wolf: I agree with you and also there’s a third way too which is to do the sequel to a movie that’s really funny and do another one that’s packed full of jokes if that was the intent of the first one. I worked as a writer with Adam Sandler on Grown Ups 1 and Grown Ups 2. The second one, I feel, got funnier because there was more jokes packed in there.

Franchise Fred: That’s what makes sequels so great. You have history to build on so it’s not just doing more jokes. It’s doing more jokes based on something richer.

Fred Wolf: Yeah, you don’t have to go through the whole process in the first act of, “Hi, I’m such and such. I work in inventory…” The coming together is more natural. So yeah, I agree with you. I do love the sequels where you visit them in current day after a lot of time has passed. A lot of times, if you love a character in the first movie, you do want to see was it happily ever after or not?

Franchise Fred: Even if it’s happily ever after, more stuff happens. 

Fred Wolf: In everyday life too, every single person, there’s a first act, a second act, a third act, fourth act, fifth act so you’re right about that. This one felt like there was a reason to exist. It wasn’t just to make a sequel and make money. If it was just for that, the second part didn’t work out at all, the making money part.

Franchise Fred: Groundhog Day is an interesting example because I feel there are two ways you could do that. You could wait 20 years and see if Bill Murray reaches another point where he need to learn a lesson through another Groundhog Day experience, or you could plug new characters into it each time. 

Fred Wolf: Actually, that would be really interesting to see the same thing about a guy waking up every day and having a completely different set of troubles that he has to overcome. That’d be an interesting way to go, but also what you say too. Maybe he’s ended up with Andie MacDowell and what has happened to his life now that he needs adjusting. So you’re right about that, but that would be a movie initially where I would say, “How do you do a sequel to that right away? It was just such a great movie and came full circle.” You just discovered a sequel. You should call them up, get in on that gravy train.

Franchise Fred: Bill Murray doesn’t seem to like sequels so you might have to do it the other way.

Fred Wolf: Yeah, it could be David Faustino. I don’t know if it’d be the same thing.

Franchise Fred: There have been Son ofs but I don’t know how well Son of the Pink Panther or Son of the Mask worked out.

Fred Wolf: Those are hard ones too because you named two comedic geniuses. How do you fill in for Peter Sellers? How do you fill in for Jim Carey?

Franchise Fred: It’s probably better not to call it the son of the character. Just do a new character, although a Chris Elliott Groundhog Day wouldn’t be bad.

Fred Wolf: That’s not bad at all. I love that guy.

David Spade as Joe Dirt in Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser on Crackle

David Spade as Joe Dirt in Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser on Crackle

Franchise Fred: So can Joe Dirt 2 be more R-rated on Crackle?

Fred Wolf: Yes, it can. They really let us loose. They didn’t crack the whip on us that often. It was pretty liberating to not worry so much about that sort of stuff. Maybe there’s still another shoe to drop in terms of what we have to cut out but at this point they weren’t really that worried. By the way, we don’t have that many sexual situations in this. It would be the language that they could come down on if they wanted to but we’d survive that if they did come down on that.

Franchise Fred: Do you still submit to the MPAA?

Fred Wolf: I hope so. I hope so. I don’t know if we have to but I’d like to.

Franchise Fred: Why do you hope so? You wouldn’t want to be unrated?

Fred Wolf: I’d like to know where we come out. It’d be interesting to find out. We definitely would pass an R but I would almost like to see if we were PG-13. The first one was PG-13. It’d be interesting to find out how close we are to that again. We might be there because the first one has some pretty hardcore scenes.

Franchise Fred: It’s how many times you say the F-word.

Fred Wolf: Yeah, yeah. You can use it in a nonsequel [way]. There’s a lot of give and take.

Franchise Fred: That’s right, Philomena and Draft Day got their PG-13s. Are you working on any of Sandler’s Netflix films?

Fred Wolf: I might be. Adam and I have talked about this one idea that he had and I would do it in a heartbeat.