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12 Comedy Sequels Actually Better Than The Original Movie

If you ask someone to name some of their favorite comedy sequels, they might have a difficult time trying to come up with some titles. However, an even tougher challenge would be to ask them what comedy sequels they think surpass the original film. After all, sequels to comedy films don't always have the best reputation. Oftentimes, they are seen as cash grabs that either rehash the original's formula but in a less entertaining way, such as "The Hangover 2," or completely destroy everything that made the original so special.

There are plenty of sequels that surpass the original movie. Many would argue that films such as "Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," and "The Road Warrior" rank among these. But while genres like action, sci-fi, and drama can often surpass their predecessors by building on the world and characters that came before, it's much harder for comedies to replicate this success. Comedy sequels often struggle to gain traction with audiences because the ideas are no longer fresh, and rehashing comedic tropes or specific punchlines causes them to lose the novelty they once had.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Sometimes there's a rare comedy sequel that takes what made the original fun and makes it even better. Here's a list of some comedy sequels that actually managed to be better than the original.

Murder Mystery 2

"Murder Mystery" is a 2019 comedy film starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler as a couple who go on vacation only to find themselves trying to solve the murder of the host of a yacht party they attend. The film is a spoof of traditional murder mystery stories, particularly those by Agatha Christie, and was a pretty by-the-numbers comedy held up by its strong comedic leads. It ended up being a surprise hit for Netflix, ultimately leading to a second film a few years later.

2023's "Murder Mystery 2" is a definite improvement over the original. The couple, Nick and Audrey, have now become private detectives, making the plot of the film feel less like random happenstance. The mystery itself, which involves the kidnapping of their friend Vikram from the first film, is far more interesting than that of the original, and the Paris setting provides a stunning backdrop to the film's events. Adam Sandler's performance even earned him a 2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards nomination for best comedic performance. Critics and audiences seemed to agree about the sequel surpassing the original on Rotten Tomatoes, where both scores for "Murder Mystery 2" beat those of the first film.

The Kissing Booth 2

The teen flick "The Kissing Booth 2" is the sequel to Netflix's surprise hit "The Kissing Booth." The first film was critically panned, but apparently resonated far better with regular viewers. "The Kissing Booth" quickly became one of Netflix's most successful romantic comedies, with Netflix head honcho Ted Sarandos calling it "one of the most watched movies in the country, and maybe in the world" during a company meeting in 2018 (per Vulture). However, despite the film's popularity, "The Kissing Booth" is still a mess of a movie with poor pacing, cliched characters, and thin motivations — it fails to find compelling reasons that the leads should be together.

Somewhat surprisingly, "The Kissing Booth 2" actually manages to fix many of the problems that the first installment struggled with. Not only is it considerably funnier, but the plot plays to the strengths of the characters. Elle's Dance Dance Mania (a fictional amalgamation of "Dance Dance Revolution" and "StepMania") tournament is a fun backdrop for the story's romantic and comedic aspects, and introducing a second love interest for Elle actually provides some compelling tension between her and her original romantic partner, Noah. While the film still received a lot of negative critical reviews, the Rotten Tomatoes score for the sequel is almost double that of the first film.

Shrek 2

The first two "Shrek" films are among the best DreamWorks movies ever. They have also often been the center of debate for many fans of the series: Ever since the release of "Shrek 2" in 2004, viewers have discussed which of the two films is better. On Rotten Tomatoes, "Shrek 2" beats out the first film by a single percentage point, while the audience score favors the original. Either way, both "Shrek" films are widely beloved, and the battle between them is regularly neck and neck.

While one might argue that the first "Shrek" might have the better story, with its sharp and witty deconstruction of the fairytale genre, it's hard to deny that the second "Shrek" film is a better comedy. Not only is it packed to the brim with hilarious visual gags and pop culture jokes, but the villains of the film — Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother — provide more comedic relief than the more on-note Lord Farquaad. Additionally, the introduction of Puss in Boots adds a much-needed shakeup to the dynamic of Shrek's team.

Anchorman 2

"Anchorman 2" came out in 2013, nearly a full decade after the original "Anchorman," and a lot happened in that time. Steve Carell and Paul Rudd's careers took off and made them huge stars, and Will Ferrell made several other comedy films, such as "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and "Step Brothers." So when the sequel was announced, it was met with both excitement and trepidation, with many fans worried that the nine years might have caused the squad to lose its steam. Luckily, "Anchorman 2" turned out to be a fantastic sequel to the cult film that surpassed the original in both humor and quality.

In many ways, "Anchorman 2" is just "Anchorman" but bigger. The San Diego setting is back, complete with lots of fun references for San Diego natives, including Ron Burgundy's brief stint at SeaWorld. It also brings back a lot of gags from the original, including another over-the-top fight scene filled with celebrity cameos. One area where "Anchorman 2" really shines over the original is in its casting. Newcomers James Marsden, Meagan Good, and Harrison Ford all add a great dynamic to the cast, earning "Anchorman 2" a solid 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Scary Movie 2

The "Scary Movie" franchise began in 2000 with a film by the Wayans Brothers. Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and written by and starring Shawn and Marlon Wayans, "Scary Movie" was built to be a parody of horror films such as "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer." While the film definitely had its fair share of laughs, it was held back by the fact that the primary film it was parodying, "Scream," was itself already a parody of the genre, making "Scary Movie" feel like a pointless rehash with more pop culture references and gross out humor.

"Scary Movie" was still popular enough to spawn four sequels and inspire similar movies like "Epic Movie" and "Disaster Movie." While the Wayans didn't stick with the franchise in the long term, they did work on the second film, "Scary Movie 2." The first sequel wisely blends more horror films together and chooses to primarily parody horror films that play their concepts straight, such as "The Haunting" and "The Exorcist." The film is also remembered for Chris Elliott's breakout performance as Hanson, who's infinitely quotable lines have become a staple in many meme compilations on sites like YouTube and TikTok.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" isn't the only film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is better than the original, but it's the only MCU comedy to achieve this. While films like "Ant-Man and the Wasp" and "Thor: Love and Thunder" failed to live up to the expectations set by their predecessors, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" took everything that made the first film great and made it even better. Redditor u/Asha_Brea stated that the second film "does characters and character interactions better, has a better villain, [and] does both funny and emotional characters better."

The first "Guardians of the Galaxy" film succeeded thanks to its strong characterizations and the wonderful dynamic between the team, but the plot surrounding their antics was definitely lacking in some departments. The war being waged by Ronan the Accuser felt only tangentially related to most of the team, and it felt like more of a setup for future films with Thanos and the Infinity Stones. By comparison, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is all about family. Whether it's Peter Quill's story about finding his father (and ultimately realizing Yondu was more of a dad than his biological one), Gamora's attempts to reconnect with her sister Nebula, or Rocket's attempts to raise the sapling version of his friend Groot, the dynamics of family are front and center throughout the film. Since the franchise is all about found family, the sequel works much better than the original.

Addams Family Values

When "The Addams Family" was released in 1991, it was a huge hit. Not only did it gross extremely well, but it was well received by critics and audiences alike, introducing the beloved oddball family to an entirely new generation of viewers. The film was helped by some spot-on casting that is still hard to beat 30 years later. While "The Addams Family" is an excellent film, it can be argued that the plot plays things very safe, using very classic interpretations of the characters and story to ensure that it would appeal to longtime fans. This solid foundation really allowed the sequel to shine.

"Addams Family Values" came only two years after the original and it improved on nearly every aspect of the first film. Pugsley and Wednesday being sent off to camp is a terrific setup for laughs and some surprisingly poignant social commentary delivered in a way only Wednesday Addams could — Christina Ricci's brilliant performance really carries the film. The rest of the cast is also terrific, and Joan Cusack's antagonistic Debbie Jellinsky provides a memorable third act. Despite receiving better reviews than its predecessor, "Addams Family Values" sadly never led to a third film, likely due in part to star Raul Julia's passing less than a year after its release.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" is a film that often appears on lists of comedy sequels that are better than the original, and for good reason. Technically, it is the third entry in the "National Lampoon's Vacation" franchise, following the widely disliked "National Lampoon's European Vacation," but it is easily the most memorable Griswold adventure. While "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" didn't immediately receive the same kind of praise as the beloved original, the Christmas setting has allowed it to become a staple classic to watch during the holiday season for many viewers, turning it into a cult classic over time.

The film contains no shortage of memorable moments, like Clark's ridiculously over-the-top Christmas decorations causing the whole city to lose power, or Clark's boss being chastised by everyone (including his own wife and a SWAT team) for canceling Christmas bonuses. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" might not beat the original's critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it's ahead in terms of the audience scores, making it the best reviewed "National Lampoon's Vacation" film on the site among viewers.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

"Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" is a sequel to the 2011 film "Puss in Boots" and the sixth film in the "Shrek" universe. "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" was released in 2022, over a decade after its predecessor, and the time away allowed the spin-off franchise to grow in a number of ways. The film adopts a new visual style meant to make it look like "a fairy tale painting," director Joel Crawford told Yahoo! Entertainment. It also has a more mature tone: The titular character goes on a deep and introspective journey that has him dealing with the impending arrival of Death, who is a character in the story that is hunting Puss down to claim his life.

Unlike the first "Puss in Boots," which was a fun if at times somewhat forgettable entry in the "Shrek" canon, "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" delivers the perfect balance of humor, drama, and surprisingly poignant existential ideas that make it one of the best DreamWorks films to date. It gave fans of the "Shrek" franchise hope that it can continue to innovate and grow all these years after the first film. The stellar voice cast also succeeds in balancing the humor with the film's darker and more serious moments.

22 Jump Street

2012's "21 Jump Street" was a huge breath of fresh air in so many ways. Serving as both a spinoff and a reimagining of the 1987 show of the same name, "21 Jump Street" the show's concept of cops going undercover in a high school and turned it into a parody of both the show it is based on as well as both cop and high school dramas. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's great chemistry and the sharp writing made "21 Jump Street" a hit, and cameos from original series stars Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, and Peter DeLuise were a welcome surprise.

While "21 Jump Street" managed to succeed in delivering its impressive concept, sequel "22 Jump Street" delivered a better comedy, filled with even more laughs than its predecessor. It leaned further into the meta humor that was so successful in the first film, and loosening its ties to the original show allowed it to create a stronger identity. That, along with a new supporting cast led by future Marvel star Wyatt Russell, helped "22 Jump Street" become one of the best comedy sequels ever made. Redditor u/AnnaKendrickPerkins even claimed that the film is "the only comedy movie to have a better sequel than [the] original."

Paddington 2

It's rare that you have a sequel to any film, let alone a comedy film, that is so widely regarded as being better than the original that it becomes an entire subplot in a Nicolas Cage movie, but "Paddington 2" managed to do just that. The first film, the story of a talking bear from Peru who comes to live with a human family in London, is about the power of kindness above all else, and the sequel really leans into that. The original "Paddington" dropped in 2014 to near universal praise, garnering an impressive 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a pretty lofty score for a sequel to follow. But "Paddington 2" does just that.

The second film not only lives up to its predecessor, but surpasses it in both laughs and heart. Hugh Grant's hilarious out of work actor villain is even funnier than the first film's antagonist, and the plot that involves Paddington reforming a prison and bringing love and joy to the inmates brings the warmth and the feels to the beloved sequel. This not only helped "Paddington 2" surpass the first film's Rotten Tomatoes score with a near-perfect 99%, it even found its way into Nicolas Cage's "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent," where Pedro Pascal's Javi tries to convince Cage that it's one of the best films ever made.

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

1995's "Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls" is the sequel to the 1994 comedy film "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." While the first film received mixed reviews from critics, it was a hit with many viewers, performing very well at the box office. "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" is often credited as having launched Jim Carrey's film career, though the fact that "The Mask" and "Dumb and Dumber" released that same year certainly didn't hurt. However, while "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" has some funny moments, the film's laughs are overshadowed by its heavy reliance on transphobic and homophobic humor.

By comparison, "Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls" is still quite funny today. Granted, the film does contain some problematic portrayals, but the majority of the humor is centered around Carrey's brilliant character work and fun parody moments, such as the opening where Ace is unable to save a raccoon in a clear spoof of the opening scene from "Cliffhanger." Jim Carrey's physical comedy is impeccable, and certain scenes — such as the part where Ace emerges from the back end of a mechanical rhinoceros — are often found being clipped in memes. It's no wonder that the Rotten Tomatoes audience score for "Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls" is a respectable 72%, easily beating the first film's 57%.