Hit or miss: Where does Inside Out 2 rank among the best and worst animated sequels of all time? 

We review Inside Out 2, Pixar's most commercially successful film to date, and rank it among the best and worst animated films of all time.

The general public has always had a huge soft spot for animated films, and the intense competition in recent years has driven the level of narrative and skill to unprecedented heights.

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Studios frequently bring back beloved characters from previous animated films in sequels in hopes of reliving the excitement of the originals and satisfying fans' desire for more. It goes without saying that some have phenomenal success while others fail miserably.

Keep in mind that this compilation only includes sequels that have been released in theatres.

In no particular order, here are some of the worst and worst animated sequels ever created: 

Worst animated sequels of all time

Ice Age 2 (Dir. Carlos Saldanha, 2006) 

The original

Many expected Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks to compete fiercely in animation technology after the release of Shrek. However, due to the popularity of Ice Age, Blue Sky Studios became a serious contender a year later. 

Ironically, Fox Animation Studios—a division that closed following Titan A.E.'s demise and the rise of computer-generated animation—was almost entirely responsible for the creation of this beloved brand.

Though Blue Sky had previously focused on visual effects, the plot evolved into their first feature film, which went on to become one of the most successful animated films of all time.

The sequel

By adding a new adventure to its successful bundle, Blue Sky attempted to compensate for the robots' lacklustre reaction. To everyone's surprise, the series shifted its focus away from tiny Roshan and towards miserable Manny and his mate-finding antics. 

This reduced the story's emotional impact and introduced the obnoxious mammoth Ellie who had a possum complex. Despite negative reviews, the film performed well at the box office, allowing the series to continue with two more instalments.

All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (Dir. Larry Leker & Paul Sabella, 1996)

The original

A studio oddity that involved the simultaneous release of Walt Disney Pictures' The Little Mermaid and All Dogs Go to Heaven resulted in numerous comparisons between the two films. Unlike the former, the film was technically flawed, which prompted harsh criticism. 

However, time was able to salvage the project and turn it into an emotional classic. It tells the story of Charlie, a German shepherd who had to die twice to demonstrate that all dogs go to heaven when they do the right thing.

The sequel

The technical flaws of the original film were understandable given that American animation had just recovered from a slump with hits such as The Little Mermaid, and Bernardo and Bianca in Kangarooland. 

But, even after all these years, the fact that this sequel is clearly inferior to the first is inexcusable. Those same reviewers who panned the first All Dogs Go to Heaven were harsh on the sequel, which failed miserably to elicit the same level of emotion.

Buza Caperuza 2 (Dir. Mike Disa, 2011)

The original

Many other films attempted to replicate Shrek's success by incorporating the ogre concept. One of them was Buza Caperuza, which was innovative for its time because it was an entirely independent computer animated film and a complete reimagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story told through the lens of a police investigation. 

The feature film divided critics; some praised its brilliant creativity, while others saw it as a clumsy attempt to emulate Shrek's comedic style. However, the film garnered positive reviews from audiences, leading to the announcement of a sequel.

The sequel

In order to provide a fresh narrative, the new animated adventure of the unconventional Little Red Riding Hood, Buza Caperuza 2, foregoes flashbacks and police investigations. 

To save Granny, Hansel, and Gretel from the evil witch's clutches, our heroine must form an alliance with the wolf in this sequel, joining a special organisation known as the Little Red Riding Hood Sisters..

The film's disastrous debut came after many postponements; reviewers panned it for a lack of originality, and it failed to earn even a fraction of the original's box office revenue. 

Shrek the Third (Dir. Chris Miller & Raman Hui, 2007)

The original

Before DreamWorks' irreverent Shrek, Disney had long dominated the animation process. Not only did the film's endearing characters captivate viewers, but its innovative and risky style distinguished it from the Mouse Studio's usual fairy tale offerings. 

Shrek's greatest success was becoming the first animated film to win an Oscar in the Best Animated Picture category, ranking alongside positive reviews and monumental box office figures.

The sequel

Despite the success of Shrek II, the series suffered a major setback with Shrek 3. The film was heavily criticised for failing to live up to the hype surrounding its predecessors and for devolving into a lifeless, predictable mess with outright hilarious acting. 

Furthermore, the introduction of the new characters left the audience feeling more anguished than triumphant, and the previous characters lost much of their charisma. Regardless, Shrek the Third earned a respectable sum at the box office, resulting in a fourth film, all because people loved the ogre. However, the series finale failed to match the film's initial success.

Cars 2 (Dir. John Lasseter & Brad Lewis, 2011)

The original

Both children and adults enjoyed Cars, Lightning McQueen's first adventure, despite its widespread reputation as one of Pixar's worst films. 

As a result, it became one of the highest-grossing films of 2006, as well as a beloved Mouse Studio series that continues to elicit controversy among its fans. 

The popularity of Disneyland's Cars Land, which faithfully depicts the fantastical world of these automobiles, is proof of this.

The sequel

Pixar opted to redirect the focus of Cars 2 from Lightning McQueen, the beloved character, to Mate, a joyful secret agent who, despite all odds, emerges as a unique and fresh storyteller. 

Not only was it one of Pixar's lowest-grossing films, but it also became the studio's first to receive a negative Rotten Tomatoes rating. 

Best animated sequels of all time

Kung Fu Panda 2 (Dir. Jennifer Yuh, 2011)

The original

Following the smash hit Shrek, DreamWorks struggled to find another character with the irreverent ogre's level of personality and appeal. 

It all came down to Po, a wobbly panda whose fate led him to become Dragon Warrior's ancestor by trading noodles for martial arts in 2008. 

Many praised the film's beautiful and spectacular animation as well as its comedic plot, drawing comparisons to Walt Disney's Golden Age.

The sequel

Following the box office success of the first film, DreamWorks Animation set out to create Kung Fu Panda 2, in which Po would face an even more formidable foe with far-reaching consequences for the panda's history. 

Guillermo del Toro's involvement as executive producer allowed the film to retain the comedy and passion of its predecessor while also adding a sense of gloom. 

Furthermore, the production took advantage of significant technological advancements, as evidenced by the antagonist's use of magnificent fireworks as a weapon and the landscape itself.

The Rescuers Down Under (Dir. Hendel Butoy & Mike Gabriel, 1990)

The original

Along with The Little Mermaid Films like The Rescuers provided the first hints of the vast enchantment that would define Disney's second golden era. 

Though Blue Sky had previously focused on visual effects, the plot evolved into their first feature film, which went on to become one of the most successful animated films of all time.

As a result, The Rescuers became Disney's most profitable animated film to date, as well as the highest-grossing animated film featuring a mouse. The critical and commercial responses were overwhelmingly positive.

The sequel

The Rescuers Down Under is one of the studio's few theatrical sequels and has some redeeming features. However, this sequel falls short of the original, owing to its inability to recreate the enchanting bond between the mice and the tiny penny. 

Nevertheless, reviewers had some praise for the new adventure's stunning animation and absolutely brilliant moments, which transport viewers to a fantastical world atop an adventurous eagle.

Toy Story 2 (Dir. John Lasseter, 1999) and Toy Story 3 (Dir. Lee Unkrich, 2010)

The original

Toy Story is not only a legendary animated film, but it is also widely regarded as the pioneer of the decades-long computer-generated (CG) revolution. 

In this animated film, Andy's favourite toy, Woody, goes up against Buzz Lightyear, a space commando figure known for his elaborate lights and sounds. The feature film was an absolute success, both critically and at the box office

It was the second-highest-grossing film of 1995 globally and received a perfect freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The sequels

Toy Story 2 was supposed to be a direct-to-home release, but Pixar's sneak peeks persuaded Walt Disney to put the film in theatres. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, this 1999 release was the third highest-grossing film of the year, trailing only Star Wars: Episode I and The Sixth Sense, and it maintained Rotten Tomatoes' perfect freshness rating.

Luxo Jr.'s studio took nearly a decade to surprise audiences with Toy Story 3, a controversial film due to its inclusion of an adult Andy and lack of directing from John Lasseter. 

Despite this, Pixar managed to surprise everyone once more with a hilarious and heartfelt story that provided the perfect ending to the toy line's history—at least in our minds.

Toy Story 3 topped the box office in 2010 and currently has a 99% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Dir. Joel Crawford, 2022)

The original

Even though Puss in Boots was already a household name from Shrek, few people were familiar with his story, which is one of Charles Perrault's lesser-known fables. That was enough of an excuse to give this cunning feline his own spin-off, as kids saw him more as Shrek's friend. 

The solo journey featured charming new characters, such as Kitty Soft Paws, and a satisfying exploration of the story's origins. Despite not ranking among the top ten grossing films of the year, it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

The sequel

After ten years of production and several creative changes, Puss in Boots' second cinematic adventure appeared to have arrived too late. But the fact that DreamWorks surprised us with one of its best films was even more shocking, possibly because we had such low expectations to begin with. 

Word of mouth helped propel The Last Wish to tenth place in box office receipts for 2022, as well as multiple nominations at the year's most prestigious award shows, thanks to its more daring 3D use in the vein of the Spider-Verse saga and its smarter, more exciting, and more mature storyline about the inevitability of death.

Inside Out 2 (Dir. Kelsey Mann, 2024)

The original

Pixar's Inside Out is a masterpiece because it captivates audiences of all ages with its hilarious, heartwarming, and sometimes didactic exploration of the human mind. 

Inside Out went on to become one of the studio's most successful films, topping the box office and earning a 98% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The sequel

Following Inside Out's positive reception, fans demanded a sequel almost immediately; however, it took nearly ten years for the film to receive one.

With a string of films that received mixed reviews and bombed at the box office, fans began to wonder if Pixar had lost its appeal. 

Thankfully, the sequel, the journey back to Riley's mind, arrived at an opportune moment with a brilliance that lies in accepting that we can change without losing the core of who we are.