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MOVIE REVIEWS : 'Teen Wolf Too' Deserves a Silver Bullet

November 20, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

Bursting with lycanthropy and lame jokes, "Teen Wolf Too" (citywide) follows in the tracks of its predecessor, the 1985 hit with Michael J. Fox, to give us another howlingly bad comedy-fantasy: a dog in wolf's clothing.

The original "Teen Wolf"--which had the luck to be released at the same time as Fox's "Back to the Future"--was a monstrous hit, but a pretty feeble movie. It was an obvious and crass mingling of B-movie werewolf legendry with addle-brained modern teen-age humor--the kind usually manufactured by condescending adults.

In it, the winsome were-Fox discovered, to his chagrin, that he belonged to a family of werewolves. Rather mysteriously, he also learned that werewolves play basketball like Michael Jordan--knowledge which might have eased the torment of Lon Chaney Jr. in the original "Wolf Man."

The sequel seems to have been written for Fox (of "Family Ties"), and then quickly altered to accommodate Jason Bateman (brother of "Family Ties' " Justine Bateman), playing the teen wolf's cousin, Todd Howard. Todd, a shy, sensitive soul interested only in music and biology, suddenly succumbs to the family curse: turning into a fang-slavering, finger-popping, goombah-goombah campus wolf and mainstay of the school's boxing squad. Vulpine fame goes to his head. He dumps his scholarly girlfriend, Nikki (Estee Chandler), and begins ignoring his studies, consorting with campus sluts, dumping on his buddies, buzzing bicyclists, cavorting at frat parties, and, in general, acting like a cur.

Need we say more? Need we watch more? Anyone who can't figure out the rest deserves to be turned into a were-dodo. "Teen Wolf Too" embellishes its inane, cookie-cutter plot with remote direction, witless dialogue and charmless characters--including John Astin as a fiendish dean, James Hampton as a hairy uncle, Kim Darby as a teacher with a wolf-tail, and a variety of near-mute starlets as campus sluts. Then it climaxes with a Bingo Night imitation of "Rocky," complete with sweat, cliches and disco.

The pacing is near-cataleptic and the movie's intended comic highlight is a frog-fight in the biology lab. Isn't that just what you're dying to see and hear? Bad dialogue, lugubriously paced; awful jokes about werewolves, and guffawing actors churlishly hurling around a lot of little frogs? "Teen Wolf Too" (MPAA-rated: PG) makes it two "Teen Wolves" too many. Perhaps it's a were-movie ready to be transformed into a used-car commercial in Dubuque when the moon is full.

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