- Sequels often fail to capture the unique humor of their predecessor, but films like Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay managed to recapture what made the original movie successful.
- 22 Jump Street cleverly satirizes the notion of sequels, surpassing its predecessor by rekindling the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, taking them on an epic and insane journey undercover as college students.
- Shrek 2 skillfully continues the tradition of satirizing fairy-tale characters with hilarious gags, maintaining its distinct humor while exploring profound themes of self-acceptance, making it one of the best entries in the franchise.
Sequels, including comedy movie sequels, often have a bad reputation in the world of cinema, more often not ending up just attempts to milk a concept for money while failing to capture what made their predecessor unique enough to demand more. Comedy, especially, is like lightning-in-a-bottle and most comedy sequels can’t match the high expectations, becoming forced, formulaic, and stale. A good comedy hits at the sense of humor of the modern zeitgeist, so it’s hard for a sequel to find a way to match the original tone, especially when the tone is humorous while striking at the moment.
The key to a great comedy sequel is striking a delicate balance between updating the humor and preserving the charm and essence of the original film. Every once in a while, a comedy sequel manages to not only meet but even surpass its predecessor. To follow up the best comedy movies of all time, a sequel needs to intelligently expand their worlds and find clever new ways to push their characters to the brink, avoiding mistakes that a lot of comedy franchises make.
10 Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Only a handful of comedy franchises have managed to not only maintain but enhance their comedic charm with a sequel, and rarer still, with a third installment. The Harold and Kumar trilogy stands out in this regard. Beyond their initial allure as mind-bending, carefree entertainment, these films offer an unexpectedly mature tale of a changing friendship. As one of the pioneering Asian-led comedy series, it also takes a refreshing look at issues surrounding racial bias. The second film, in particular, marks a significant turning point in the duo’s friendship, as well as delving into the film’s clever satire of stereotypes.
9 22 Jump Street
22 Jump Street cleverly satirizes the notion of sequels, employing a constant barrage of absurdist self-referential humor. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill rekindle the same magnetic chemistry that propelled the first installment to success. This time the two go undercover as college students to investigate a drug ring, with the film hilariously navigating their friendship and taking them on an epic and insane journey. In fact, 22 Jump Street is even better than the first, although 23 Jump Street never happened.
8 Shrek 2
Skillfully continuing the first film’s tradition of satirizing classic fairy-tale characters while maintaining its distinct brand of humor and shockingly profound themes of self-acceptance, Shrek 2 is a fantastic comedy sequel. The unpredictable, fast-paced storyline introduces delightful new characters and hosts a series of truly hilarious gags. The film, like the original, strikes a perfect balance of whimsy and mock vulgar humor with genuinely clever jokes and a real heart that makes it perfect for both adults and children. It is one of the best entries in the Shrek movie franchise to this day, if not the best.
7 The LEGO Batman Movie
While the main characters from The LEGO Movie have their own sequel, the standout follow-up is undoubtedly this spin-off centered around Batman, voiced in both films with a hilariously brooding gruff intensity by Will Arnett. The movie hilariously deconstructs the beloved character, portraying him as egotistical and lonely, and his desperate attempts to prove himself to others. Like its predecessor, the film’s stunning animation is inspired by the world of LEGO, including how everything and everyone moves, which delivers a steady stream of visual humor. The film has a zany and audacious mile-a-mile barrage of jokes but is also surprisingly clever, and only improved by its wacky cast.
6 Austin Powers in Goldmember
Mike Myers’s madcap antics continue in this final installment of the groovy British spy. The film furthers the successful formula of its predecessors, delving deeper into its witty commentary on 1970s pop culture while finding fresh angles from which to lampoon spy movies. It also introduces the character of Goldmember, a fourth distinctive character for Myers to portray, whose peculiar behavior and habit of eating pieces of his own peeling skin are hilarious and feel right in line with the series’ offbeat and audacious humor.
5 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
This sequel for Ron Burgundy and his team preserves the uproarious and absurd humor that was a hallmark of the first film’s success, all while elevating its clever satire of the journalism world. The movie ingeniously advances its plot, placing Ron and his team in the midst of the frenetic 24-hour news cycle. It’s a riotously funny film, seamlessly blending over-the-top comedic moments and larger-than-life characters with sharp, satirical commentary on the realm of news reporting.
4 Muppets Most Wanted
As the 8th feature-length Muppets film and a sequel to 2011’s The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted keeps the whimsical charm of the series alive. In this installment, the beloved Muppets embark on a globetrotting tour but find themselves entangled with a criminal mastermind, who happens to be a perfect doppelganger for Kermit. The film is rich in humor, featuring amusing cases of mistaken identity, and delivering unforgettable new musical numbers.
3 Meet the Fockers
In this sequel to Meet the Parents, Ben Stiller’s character, Greg Focker, takes on the daunting task of introducing his parents to his soon-to-be in-laws. The resulting tension between the two markedly different families results in endless hilarity, especially with the incredible quartet of legendary actors portraying them—Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner, Barbra Streisand, and Dustin Hoffman—all delivering sidesplitting performances. The film is filled with outrageous scenarios, including an unforgettable moment involving a polygraph test, and a series of cringe-worthy and awkward encounters. The film brilliantly follows up on the first’s exploration of the absurd drama of family dynamics, delivering plenty of laughs.
2 Scream 2
Scream 2 much like its predecessor, successfully combines thrills and humor. It continues and broadens the first clever self-aware humor by deconstructing the conventions of horror sequels. Notable moments include characters openly discussing who will likely meet their demise first, based on these sequel “rules.” The film also expands Sidney’s narrative arc and faces her with new challenges. Much like the first film, this approach makes for an extremely entertaining and clever film with equally great horror and comedy elements, assuring the continuation of the Scream movie franchise.
1 Deadpool 2
Deadpool 2 stands out as simultaneously one of the best follow-ups in both the superhero and comedy genres. The film takes daring risks to evolve the character, further tweaking its irreverent humor and meta-commentary, and elevating the staging of its epic action sequences. The film also manages to balance emotional resonance, notably its further development of Deadpool’s character making it a standout sequel and getting a third movie made, now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.