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.

Franchise Fred Interview: David Spade on Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser

When I introduced David Spade and writer/director Fred Wolf to Franchise Fred, they weren’t quite sure what to make of me. I get it. The creators of Joe Dirt probably took a lot of heat over the years. When I got further into my sincere defense of sequels, Spade got it. “Now I know you weren’t being sarcastic,” he said.

Spade has been talking about Joe Dirt 2 for some time, but it became a reality now that Crackle, the streaming service of Sony Pictures, the producers of Joe Dirt, is airing the sequel. Joe Dirt 2 is available July 16 on Crackle. Find out what’s new for Joe Dirt in my exclusive interview with David Spade.

Franchise Fred: I mean it, I love sequels. I think there’s always more story to tell. How do you feel about the prospect?

David Spade: I like most sequels. You might like them more, but if I like something, I want it to keep going because it’s more fun. I want to see where they’re going to go with it. I think it was nice we had some time, because we did have a rough script a few years after the first one. We didn’t really know what to do. We were just like, “We should put something down.” Then the more feedback you get, the more time goes on, you sort of have to adjust it so nothing feels dated. Then we have new ideas, so once it got real, then we sat down, and we said this has to be thought out and not thrown together and crummy. It would be a disservice. So the people that like it, we want to do it for them.

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

If we catch trouble, because I made fun of Boyhood on Twitter. They’re like, “Oh, Joe Dirt’s so much better than Boyhood.” Well, no one’s saying that. Let’s not just state the obvious. 8 Heads in a Dufflebag isn’t The Godfather. You don’t have to list all my credits. I’m just making fun of the name Boyhood. I called it Borehood because it sounds long and boring. But the people that do like it, anything I do on Twitter or Instagram that’s relating to Joe Dirt gets more than anything else by three times. The first day at the shoot I put a picture up and I got picked up by The Daily Mail. We didn’t put it out. I just put it on my Instagram. I go, “Hey, day one, mullet, let’s go.” It was on Us Magazine, Daily Mail, all these blogs. It’s nice that they recognize it’s a little cult thing. I think [Joe Dirt 2]’s funnier but we have to edit it. That’s tricky too.

Franchise Fred: Wasn’t the original Joe Dirt a huge seller at Walmart?

David Spade: Yeah, Walmart and we were writing it because Walmart came to us a long time ago and said, “We would help finance it.” It all started with someone from Walmart saying to Sony, “Three years later it’s supposed to go down but we sell the same every month.” Usually a movie comes out and the next month [sales] go down but he said everyone just throws it in.

Franchise Fred: People are wearing out their Joe Dirt DVDs?

David Spade: Yeah, so that was really the first time we were like, “Oh, maybe we should do a sequel.” That was the first time we were like, “Wait, for real?” They said yeah and then they get the DVD sales and they go, “Oh my God, it’s killing and we might need another one of these.” We were going to go in with them. Then it got very complicated but I thought it was flattering.

Franchise Fred: Did Walmart end up not going in on Joe Dirt 2?

David Spade: No, because Sony I don’t think does that. Then Kid Rock offered to chip in. He goes, “If this was an album, you’d be making another one. I don’t know why you guys are so stupid, you’re not making another one.” I go, “It’s not up to me.” So it would percolate around and then I would do my show. Fred was writing the movies, so when Steve Mosko said it, I was like, “Okay, let’s make this real. Let’s focus and let’s actually do it.” That’s hard to get everyone rallied around.

Franchise Fred: In the time since Joe Dirt, has the sort of “redneck culture” exploded with Duck Dynasty and all the trucker shows?

David Spade: Oh yeah. It’s hard to make fun of it in the right way because we want to be respectful to that huge area of the south. When the movie came out, we were in third place and I came across the country. When I hit the south, it switched to first place. So they were like, “Oh my God, we’re first now.” Because it hit that pocket and everyone showed up. I’m the good guy, so it’s not all making fun of white trash guys. I mean, they do in the movie, but I’m proud of it. That’s why I think it’s nice because you get that audience that goes, “Yeah, you’ve got to be happy to have a Hemi and all the cool things.” Some of these other shows like Party Down South or Honey Boo-Boo, there’s a million of them. I think they just act like they’re all idiots, but I’m representing and trying to say, “No, we’re good guys.”

Franchise Fred: They’re popular though, so could that increase the appeal of Joe Dirt 2?

David Spade: I don’t know if it helps or it hurts. We’re trying not to do any jokes [at their expense]. That’s harder too because we did it 10 years ago. Then you could do any jokes about trucks or big tires. Now everything’s been covered so you have to think of new ways to keep it interesting and funny.

David Spade, Brittany Daniel and Mark McGrath in Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser on Crackle

David Spade, Brittany Daniel and Mark McGrath in Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser on Crackle

Franchise Fred: You’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but what did it actually feel like to see yourself in the Joe Dirt wig and costume again?

David Spade: It was actually really exciting. I had the guy that did the first one. We hired him, from the first movie. He didn’t make as much but he goes, “I’ve got to be part of Joe Dirt.” Even Dennis Miller, he goes, “You got a part for me? Because it’s the only reason my kids still talk to me. If I do this part, I can go to school” and they all love him for it. It’s a certain type of people see it and they don’t see him on the O’Reilly show. So that was nice and we made something for Dennis because of that.

Franchise Fred: Is he playing a different character?

David Spade: He’s playing Xander again from the first one. It was hard to figure that out because this movie is so different, so we have to figure ways. He’s part of sort of a Greek chorus that comments on the movie as it’s going. He’s great, so he came out. To get everyone to come to Louisiana is hard. When you’re in L.A. you get celebrity cameos. You get everyone to just go, “Oh, I’ll come in for the day.” You’ve got to fly them to the Holiday Inn Select in the outskirts of New Orleans. It’s not quite as appealing.

Franchise Fred: I enjoyed The Showbiz Show for two seasons. Why did that stop?

David Spade: I loved it. Part of it was I was getting frustrated with doing 12 episodes a year. It just wasn’t enough. You have to wait and do it again the year after. So I signed onto Rules of Engagement and was going to do both, and then it just got too complicated. I wanted a full time job. It’s too hard. We work March, April, May and that was it. Then you’ve got nine months off and I don’t want nine months off. I’m getting too old. So we switched to Rules of Engagement. I love Showbiz Show though. It’s hard to do now because Chelsea [Handler] came on The Showbiz Show and then she did a show like it. Not that she stole, there are just so many ways to do a show like that. She had a great show, but I don’t know what I would do. Just the same thing? I still think of all those jokes, believe me.

Franchise Fred: Would something like that work on Crackle or a streaming service?

David Spade: Yeah, that is very true. I can’t even X that out. I like and I hear nice things about The Showbiz Show so I appreciate that and I think it would work still.

Franchise Fred: It just makes sense to do a Daily Show type show just about entertainment, and you were already doing The Hollywood Minute. 

David Spade: Yeah, yeah, yeah. At least I have that market cornered a little bit.