Do you remember how you felt in the summer of 1985? I can tell you. You had Michael J. Fox Fever! (Unless you were not alive.) He was the breakout star of “Family Ties,” a top-10 TV show about a dog named Ubu who was learning to sit. “Back to the Future,” released in July, was on its way to becoming the highest-grossing film of the year. And at the end of August came “Teen Wolf,” a modest hit that capitalized on Fox’s popularity and America’s longstanding interest in seeing its favorite TV stars buried under embarrassing makeup.
The people responsible for “Teen Wolf” were probably very disappointed when Fox declined to return for a sequel, especially since he DID agree to make two more “Back to the Futures.” “What are we, chopped liver?” the “Teen Wolf” people might have asked, mostly rhetorically. But they didn’t let it get them down! Young sitcom stars desirous of movie careers were plentiful in Hollywood. All the “Teen Wolf” people had to do was poke their heads into the studio where “Mr. Belvedere” or “The Hogan Family” or “Growing Pains” or “Head of the Class” was being taped, and grab whichever teen actor was closest. In short, they took the lemons life had handed them and used Jason Bateman to turn them into a big batch of fresh-squeezed “Teen Wolf Too.”
In case you missed the “Teen Wolf” unit in your film studies class, it was about a mediocre high school basketball player named Scott Howard who learned he had an alter ego, that of a werewolf who was really good at basketball. The sequel is about Scott’s cousin, Todd Howard, who doesn’t play sports at all and is hoping he will not inherit the Howard family trait of being a werewolf. Being a werewolf brought his cousin nothing but popularity and success, and Todd wants no part in that.
Todd is a freshman at Hamilton University, where he intends to study science and become a veterinarian (GET IT?? BECAUSE WOLVES) but is here on an athletic scholarship. Wait, didn’t I just tell you he’s not an athlete? Then why does he have an athletic scholarship? Well, it’s because the man who coached Scott’s basketball team, Coach Finstock (Paul Sand), is now the coach of Hamilton University’s boxing team — which is totally a thing, I swear — and he’s counting on Todd to exhibit the same kind of werewolf-athlete abilities as his cousin. This, in turn, will propel Hamilton’s boxing team — again, a real thing, I promise — to the regional and ultimately national championship. Hamilton probably has football and basketball, too, but those don’t matter, because everyone knows a university is only as good as its boxing team. Moreover, Coach Finstock’s reasoning is perfectly sound, as all of your major werewolf legends make it clear that the cousin of a basketball-playing werewolf is always a good boxer. As long as they’re first cousins, that is. The second cousin of a basketball-playing werewolf can’t box for crap.
Todd definitely finds it a little strange that he, a non-athlete, has been given an athletic scholarship, but not strange enough to ask any questions. For example, one of the questions he does not ask is, “What sport will I be expected to play?” He is thus quite alarmed when he learns that he must join the boxing team. (“We have a boxing team? That’s a thing?” is something else he does not ask.) This is after he’s already been alarmed to learn he’s sharing a dorm room with Stiles (Stuart Fratkin), the fun-loving, entrepreneurial doofus who was his cousin Scott’s friend in the first movie. What are the odds that Stiles would end up at Hamilton, too?? And not just Stiles but Chubby (Mark Holton), another guy from the first movie, whose legal first name is actually Chubby, I guess! Everybody’s here!
Todd is annoyed that he has to participate in athletics JUST because he accepted an athletic scholarship. UGH. All he wants to do is be science-y. To make matters worse, Stiles has changed all of Todd’s classes from science courses to fun electives, because I guess at Hamilton University you can just walk into the registrar’s office and change your roommate’s classes around, for comedy. Todd goes in to deal with it and is told that nobody is allowed to change classes after registering. That can’t be true, obviously, because Stiles just did it, but the movie forgot that part, even though it only happened 30 seconds earlier. This movie is so boring it won’t even pay attention to itself. Anyway, Todd gets frustrated with the registrar, and his eyes turn red and werewolf-y, and the registrar is terrified into letting him change his classes back. This is in accordance with classical werewolf lore, which states that the first signs of lycanthropy often appear when the subject is confronted with a plot hole.
Then Todd is at a fancy luncheon for new students, which exists as further evidence that the people who made the movie had never actually been to college or met anyone who had. While dancing with one of the school’s slutty girls, Todd gets a little “hot under the collar,” as it were, and totally wolfs out: claws, fur, fangs, the whole nine yards. He is mortified! As for his fellow students, their reaction to learning that a werewolf lives among them is not panic or fear, nor do they seek counsel from religious leaders or government officials, nor do they band together and slay the beast before it can kill them. No, their response to Todd’s werewolfism is to make fun of it. They tease him mercilessly over the next several days, as if this were junior high school and Todd had worn a girl’s shirt.
All of that changes, however, when Todd goes full-wolf during a boxing match and defeats his opponent. Now everyone loves Todd, and werewolves are awesome! Young people have fickle tastes. Todd, who you’ll recall hated the idea of inheriting the family curse, instantly embraces it now, leading to an exuberant party scene in which he sings “Do You Love Me? (Now That I Can Dance),” wherein “dance” is a euphemism for “turn into a monster and beat people up,” and to which the answer is YES.
At this point, the story requires Todd to get a big ego over his newfound fame, to win one boxing match after another, to skip classes in favor of partying, and to neglect the nerdy girl from his biology class in favor of the campus slutty girls. The movie, getting bored with itself again and seeking to hurry things along, conveys all of this in a series of montages. We see that Todd is the wolf most of the time, rarely converting back to human form. The only way the movie could be any lazier is if it just had a narrator say, “And then Todd got very popular, became a jerk, spent all his time being a wolf, and forgot his friends.”
Something probably happens to make Todd take stock of his situation and realize he’s been misbehaving, but I don’t remember what it is. Actually, it’s entirely possible that no such event occurs, and that Todd has a change of heart simply because the script said: “TODD: [has change of heart].” At any rate, he has a frank conversation with his uncle Harold (James Hampton), who loves being a werewolf but doesn’t use it to get ahead in life, because it is wrong to use one’s talents or skills for personal gain. Todd doesn’t like that he spent an entire semester — i.e., three montages — being a douchebag. He repents of his misdeeds and boxes in the big match against the school’s big rivals as himself, not as the wolf. Because it was WRONG for him to be a wolf when he was boxing. Not that he should be ashamed of being a wolf, though. Heaven forbid! Todd should accept himself for who he is. He just shouldn’t flaunt it. Or use it to help himself. Or to help others. But he shouldn’t be ashamed of it, either. He should be proud of his family’s heritage! Proud in secret, though. Not in public. I’m sure you understand.