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Reeling in the years: The lovers from Before Sunrise return in Before Midnight, how might the passage of time have changed other Nineties couples?

They were care-free lovers. Now, Céline and Jesse are care-worn parents. Hugh Montgomery worries for the fates of other iconic partnerships...

When all is said and done, what will go down as this year’s most shocking cinematic experience? Django Unchained? Nah. Tobey Maguire’s smile in The Great Gatsby?

Pffft. For many filmgoers of a certain age, it will almost certainly be the point in Before Midnight at which they realise Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke have turned into their parents. After all, cast your mind back to 1995 and the release of beguiling Generation X romance Before Sunrise. A boy-meets-girl tale of two young backpackers – Delpy’s Céline and Hawke’s Jesse, who fall in love over one night in Vienna – it was sexy and charming in equal measure. Then, nine years on, Before Sunset made us swoon all over again, catching up with the indelible pair in their thirties as they enjoyed another romantic European city encounter, this time in Paris. But now, nine years on from that, the third and possibly final chapter in the series throws something of a curveball: without giving too much away, the idyllic Greek island location is considerably more tranquil than their festering relationship.

Which, after we’d had a stiff drink, got us wondering: how might the passage of time have affected other iconic film couples of the same era? And then, blow me if we didn’t just happen upon the following top-secret sequel treatments. We can but hope they make it into production soon, though, be warned, the results ain’t always pretty….

Four Weddings and a Funeral

The original: Confirmed English bachelor Charles (Hugh Grant) falls in love with American ex-Vogue journalist Carrie (Andie MacDowell) over the course of a series of social gatherings

Proposed sequel title: Four Fiftieths and a Parent-Teacher Meeting

Plot: A serio-comic study of the squeezed upper middle. Beginning with Charles’ expletive-strewn dash to the bank to contest his overdraft charges, it finds our couple in financial heartache, with Carrie struggling with the freelance lifestyle and the temptation of 4pm wine while Charles’ mysteriously unidentified job remains as un-lucrative as ever. Priced out of their spiritual home of West London and living with their three teenage kids in Brockley, they begrudgingly do the half-century birthday party rounds while bemoaning rising school fees and child benefit changes with their equally exasperated gang. There is a moving reading from Gillian Tett’s Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, though the show is stolen by Rowan Atkinson in a hilarious cameo as a bumbling pawnbroker.



The original: Beverly Hills princess Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) plays matchmaker in her high school before finding her own unlikely match in environmentalist step-brother Josh (Paul Rudd)
Proposed sequel title: Catatonic

Plot: A dark tale of life in the political spotlight which catches up with Cher during her tenure as Governor of California. While her memorable contributions to school-debating classes and well-honed sense of entitlement made politics a natural career choice, the worm has now turned. Her Haiti Earthquake Vintage Clothing Appeal was ridiculed, her long-held belief that “sometimes you have to show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think of sex” has incurred the wrath of feminist groups and that “Democratic Sarah Palin” moniker is sounding ever more fateful. Agonised and increasingly alienated from her party colleagues, she holes up in her now decidedly de trop-looking mansion. Meanwhile her failure to take a stand on the state’s lax fracking regulations has driven a wedge between her and Josh, who is still trying to coax her into watching CNN rather than Beavis and Butthead. It’s Sunset Boulevard meets Downfall and, as the young Cher would have said, “way existential”.


Wayne’s World

The originals: Metalhead Wayne (Mike Myers) and his nerdy sidekick Garth (Dana Carvey) helm a late-night cable show and their own music festival while thwarting slimy executives

Proposed threequel title:  Wayne’s World 3: The Show Must Gone On

Plot: Since we last saw them, the pair have become world-conquering rock stars. NOT! Rather, it’s all gone a bit downhill for the bromantic duo since Waynestock became the latest victim of an overcrowded festival market. Following his visitation from Jim Morrison in Wayne’s World 2, Wayne has become increasingly delusional and now plays Connect 4 with Barry White on a daily basis. Meanwhile Garth was sacked from his job in Whole Foods for “schwinging” a colleague. However, given their penchant for ironic dumbness and big glasses, they realise they’re well placed to tap into the hipster market and so revive their old TV show for one last run. But will their declining powers of pop-culture referencing suffice? A searing portrait of masculinity in crisis: The Wrestler with knob gags, basically.


The Lion King

The original: Royal cub Simba is driven from the Pridelands after the murder of his father, the King, before returning as an adult to reclaim the throne and making old childhood friend Nala his queen.

Proposed sequel title: A Lion King in Winter

Plot: We return to the Pridelands to find the monarchy in disarray. Nala and Simba’s first-born has turned into a notorious caner, while critics have questioned the influence wielded by buffoonish meerkat/warthog duo Timon and Pumbaa and dismissed the “circle of life” as an “instrument of the ruling hegemony”. Such trying circumstances have led to a souring of the royal couple’s relationship and they are now engaged in a Machiavellian battle of wills, with Nala planning to depose her husband with the help of the ever-disenfranchised hyenas. Things come to a head with a marital showdown at Pride Rock inspired by Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner classic The War of the Roses while songs, written by Thom Yorke and Peter Morgan, include “Can You Feel the Lovelessness Tonight” and “A-Coup-now Matata”. 


Reality Bites

The original: Aspiring filmmaker Lelaina (Winona Ryder) has an angsty “will they/won’t they” relationship with tortured musician Troy (Ethan, again) while making an earnest documentary about her friends’ Generation X malaise

Proposed sequel title: Reality TV Rules Ok

Plot: An uninspiring tale of compromising your dreams: Lelaina is now a producer of low-grade reality TV featuring feckless Generation Y’ers who she repeatedly decries as “being bigger slackers than we ever were.” Meanwhile Troy, now a multi-platinum selling recording artist, has ditched his countercultural aspirations and realised penning Coldplay-style power ballads is the new rock n roll. Troy has a Network-cum-Carrie-style meltdown during a performance on X-Factor USA in which he sprays Simon Cowell with pig’s blood while declaring himself “mad as hell” at talent show culture. This leaves Lelaina quivering with rage and embarrassment until a third act reconciliation which sees him admit the error of his ways and buy them an original Arco floor lamp. They waltz off into the sunset, the prospect of a mini-break in Dubai stretching ahead of them. The End.


Before Midnight is out on Friday