Animated movies have always held the ability to tell incredible stories and bring unbelievable and exhilarating worlds and characters to life. As is the case with many other popular movies, the creative worlds and characters seen in animated movies have made the genre ripe for sequels and further exploration of these iconic worlds.
Although the standard for sequels may be that they never compare to the original film, that doesn’t completely write off these sequels from their value. Many animated sequels have been written off and ignored over the years, whether because the original film was of much higher quality or didn’t give audiences hope for a sequel.
Taking place directly after the events of the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 follows Flint and the rest of Swallow Falls as they are forced to leave town while it is cleaned. Flint soon accepts an offer to work for the Live Corp Company, which has been tasked with cleaning the island while they are away. When it is discovered that Flint’s machine still operates and has been creating mutant food creatures on the island, Flint and his friends return to the island to defeat the machine once and for all.
The original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was already filled with creative charm and the classic comedic wit of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The sequel only adds to the creativity, showing off an entirely new world filled with highly creative food creatures, as well as continuing the style of humor that made the first film so iconic.
Releasing 7 years after the original film, The Croods: A New Age continues the journey of the Croods family and their attempts to search for a safer habitat to call home. In their search, they discover a beautiful paradise home created by the Bettermans, a family further on the evolutionary chain than the Croods. While the two families are initially at odds with one another, the two parties quickly learn that they will have to work together to face a looming threat.
Especially when compared to the original film, The Croods: A New Age did a great job at finding its footing comedically, making for an experience that is noticeably funnier than the original. A good portion of this can be credited to the character dynamics, as the introduction of the Bettermans further builds on the themes and concepts of the first film, yet allows for much more comedic potential.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation sees the entire cast of ghouls and monsters taking a much-needed vacation on a luxury cruise made specifically for monsters. While on the cruise, Dracula falls in love with the ship’s captain, Ericka, who is secretly a descendant of Van Helsing and is planning to take revenge upon Dracula and the rest of the cruise passengers.
Director Genndy Tartakovsky has always done a great job at making the Hotel Transylvania series visually enthralling, with this installment possibly being the best animation in the series. The animation isn’t the only high point present, as the comedy also reaches new highs, going for a more off-the-wall zany approach that fits the franchise and characters perfectly.
Trolls World Tour follows Poppy and Branch who embark on a quest after discovering that there are many different Troll worlds beyond their own, each with their own style of music. All of these worlds are soon at risk, however, as the nefarious Barb and her rock and roll army plans to destroy all the other worlds so that only rock and roll will remain.
While the original film had more of a balance between music and the trolls as creatures themselves, this film leans into the music side much more, resulting in a much more engaging experience. There’s a genuinely effective message present in the film about race relations and the dangers of tribalism, which is handled with surprisingly high levels of dignity and grace for a film about rainbow trolls.
Both building off of and reimagining Disney’s original Cinderella story, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time sees the evil stepmother stealing the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand. She uses the magic wand’s power to change history and rewrite the events of the original story so that Prince Charming falls in love with Anastasia instead. It soon becomes up to Cinderella to both restore the original timeline and save Prince Charming.
Time travel is such a strange concept to be implemented into Cinderella, and yet in the context of the film, it manages to work wonders without feeling too overbearing. A Twist in Time is genuinely one of the strangest viewing experiences, as it goes above and beyond simply remixing the original film and goes as far as to improve upon the original’s flaws. Most notably, A Twist in Time actually gives the originally blank slate Prince Charming an actual character, giving him a real personality and a number of great character moments.
The Boss Baby: Family Business follows brothers Tim and Ted, now fully grown adults and Tim has an entire family to call his own. However, their now normal lives are halted when Tim’s youngest daughter Tina reveals herself as a new boss baby and enlists their help to stop a new enemy threatening humanity. Using a new boss baby serum, Tim and Ted are transformed into their younger selves and go undercover in order to save both their family and the world.
The original Boss Baby was already off the walls with its concept and execution, making for one of the most nonsensical and insane animated films in recent times. The sequel only manages to amplify this insanity, removing the storybook memory lens and having its unbelievable story take place in real-time with no doubts that it is actually occurring. This insanity is also much more self-aware and concentrated, making for a viewing experience that, while with its ups and downs, feels much more consistently solid than the original film.
5 years after the events of The Lego Movie, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part sees the world of Lego as an apocalyptic wasteland after an ongoing battle against mysterious invaders. Emmett is still as go-lucky as ever, yet he will have to get serious when Wyldstyle and the rest of his friends are taken by the invaders.
The original Lego Movie was one of the biggest animated movie surprises of the 2010s, and while the sequel was never going to live up to the masterpiece of the original, it still has a lot to offer. The classic animation style and comedy of the Lego movies are still present throughout, and the brother/sister themes and message are a great natural progression of the father/son message of the original.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted sees Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria continuing to find their way back to their home at the Central Park Zoo, this time taking a detour through Europe. On their journey, they find themselves in the crosshairs of Europe’s most formidable animal-control officer and are forced to hide out in a traveling circus as a result.
While the previous two Madagascar films were much more centered around reference-based and dialogue comedy, Madagascar 3 takes a shift towards a more slapstick and visual comedic style. While definitely different from the previous two films, this new comedic style works wonders and results in some of the best comedic moments and most striking visuals of the entire series. This improved writing could be accredited to surprising writer Noah Baumbach, most known for his work as a writer for Marriage Story, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the upcoming Barbie.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water follows SpongeBob and the rest of Bikini Bottom in turmoil after the Krabby Patty secret formula suddenly disappears. With all of Bikini Bottom at stake, SpongeBob and his friends embark on a quest to the surface in order to retrieve the formula from the clutches of the evil Burger Beard (played by Antonio Banderas).
While fans were initially taken aback by the new 3D computer-animated designs used as the primary promotion for the film, Sponge Out of Water surprises despite this change in animation style. The film especially has an extended 2D portion that takes up the majority of the film and is home to a number of classic SpongeBob comedic hijinks that fans love about the show. Even when the film enters its 3D animated final act, the strong comedic writing and the hilarious over-the-top villain performance from Antonio Banderas make it a fun and engaging experience.NEXT: ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ an 9 Family Movie Sequels Better Than the Original, According to Letterboxd