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Once Before a Time: A Roundup of Upcoming Prequels


“Prequels have become a mainstay of the cultural landscape. Studios, network executives and publishers are risk averse, and prequels provide yet another way to cash in on an existing work.”
 
—New York Times.

“Tiny Women”

Tagline: “Before being little, they were tiny. I mean, really tiny.”

Four teen-aged sisters and their mother, Marmee, living in eighteen-sixties New England, are inadvertently shrunken to the size of peanuts by their eccentric inventor father. Left on their own, while the father desperately pursues possible remedies, mother and daughters take refuge in a teapot and carry on as best they can. The most outspoken of the daughters, Jo, wants to become a writer, but instead marries a potato bug who encourages her to put an end to her silly ambitions. Eventually, the father returns them to their normal size and, while preparing to depart for the Civil War, inadvertently steps on Jo’s husband.

“The Young Man and the Sea”

Tagline: “Before the big fish, there was a small fish.”

Santiago, a young Cuban fisherman, befriends a feisty marlin, and the two join forces to liberate thousands of fish from an overcrowded aquarium in Miami. But, when Santiago’s fishing buddies discover the unlikely alliance and tease him, he ends his friendship with the marlin. “The next time we meet,” Santiago says, in the final shot of the film, “I will have to kill you.”

“Fahrenheit 212”

Tagline: “Before they burned books, they boiled magazines.”

In a dystopian future, Guy Montag works as a government-censor chef for an authoritarian regime. While boiling confiscated magazines, he notices a page bubble briefly to the surface, and he is unable to resist reading an item about a celebrity. This leads him to seek out more magazines. He is eventually detected by the authorities and forced to flee to the surrounding forest, where he meets a group of exiled intellectuals who have memorized different magazine profiles of Reese Witherspoon in anticipation of a time when society is ready to rediscover print media. They remain in the forest forever.

“Where the Heck Are You, Godot?”

Tagline: “Before waiting for him pointlessly, they were waiting for him with a purpose.”

Two high-school seniors, Vladimir and Estragon, have a problem: Godot. Whenever they agree to meet up by the big tree after school, Godot’s always late! And, when they go off and do stuff, such as skateboarding or hanging out at the mall, without him, he inevitably shows up, right after they leave! Finally, one day after school, Vlad and Estie decide that this time they’re going to wait until Godot shows up, even if it means missing the senior prom! And graduation! And the rest of their lives! Their determination backfires when they end up as broke, jobless tramps.

“Yester-Bloomsday”

Tagline: “Before nothing happened, everything happened.”

On the damp morning of June 15, 1904, Leopold Bloom steps out from his Dublin residence and strides briskly across wet cobblestones, a steely look in his eyes. Unbeknownst even to his wife, whom he left in bed, Bloom is a secret operative for the I.R.A. He meets his contact, Stephen Dedalus, at a remote tower in Sandycove, setting in motion events that will alter not just the history of the Irish Republic but also the history of the world. By the evening of this fateful day, the great nations of Europe will be on an unalterable course toward world war. Because the men’s knowledge of these events constitutes a critical security risk, the two agree to be hypnotized by government agents, who replace memories of their secret identities with prosaic memories of walking around Dublin.

“Lord of the Mites”

Tagline: “Before there were boys going crazy on an island, there were babies going crazy on an island.”

A flight transporting orphans crashes on a remote island, stranding a group of toddlers. A fair-haired toddler named Ralphie turns a pacifier into a whistle that he uses to convene all the survivors, but attempts at self-governance quickly go awry, as some of the three-year-olds poop their pants, while others refuse to eat anything but pizza, and still others can’t get to sleep without elaborate bedtime rituals. They all die.

“Once Way Before a Time”

Tagline: “Before ‘Once Before a Time,’ there was ‘Once Way Before a Time.’ ”

Following a quote from the Times, various nonexistent prequels are described, including “The Puppies of War,” “Oedipus the Prince,” and “A Clockwork Clementine.” Definitely better than the original.

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