Your Top Three is a series here at Movies.com where we choose a topic and you give us your top three picks.
Currently Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has a better Rotten Tomatoes score than the original. That’s weird, because most reviews I’ve seen say it’s not as good as the first one (I sort of agree but don’t feel I can properly say so for a few years). It would be a big deal if the new sequel were actually better than Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, because it’s quite rare we see a comedy sequel improve upon its precursor. It’s rare enough we get a good comedy sequel at all.
Unless maybe we go back to the classics, but even then we saw dwindling quality in sequels to The Thin Man and Father of the Bride. Not terrible, but lesser. I haven’t seen Harold Lloyd’s sound-era sequel The Sin of Harold Diddlebock — in fact I only recently heard of it — but there’s no way it’s as good as the movie it follows, silent comedy classic The Freshman. Many old comedy franchises were basically just sitcoms before TV existed, and they were about as up and down as television comedy series would be.
I’m not sure if some comedy sequels should count. Gremlins 2: The New Batch, for instance, is a hilarious sequel to a movie that isn’t quite a comedy. We may as well count Superman II in that case, as well as many modern superhero and action movies. Back to the Future Part II meanwhile is technically a comedy sequel, but we tend not to recognize it as such. And are Abbot and Costello movies connected in a way that qualifies them as sequels? Do animated films work? Do the Toy Story sequels count?
One thing I want to point out before getting to my selections is something interesting I just noticed. The Muppets movies have taken us to California and England and another was set on Christmas. Same with the Vacation movies. Why haven’t they completely matched up? We obviously need a Vegas Muppets movie and a NYC Vacation movie.
My Top Three Favorite Comedy Sequels:
1. After the Thin Man
One of the few sequels to better the original, and in the case of The Thin Man, that wasn’t an easy task. Yet the second pairing of William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles was a more straightforward detective story, which also added to the character development of this alcohol-loving couple based on a work by Dashiell Hammett. Plus it gave us one of James Stewart’s first great appearances.
2. The Great Muppet Caper
I grew up favoring this second Muppet movie over the first, partly because I was oddly a humongous Charles Grodin fan as a young child (though that originated with the combo of this and the same year’s The Incredible Shrinking Woman). I don’t know that it tops The Muppet Movie as a whole, but it’s also totally different in a way the subsequent installments haven’t figured out how to do. It’s almost not a follow-up unless you really think about it, and then it’s a weird sort of sequel.
3. Christmas Vacation
I’ve thought of including some other sequels that thankfully went in a new direction from their precursor(s), such as Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, but neither is also as hilarious as this third Vacation movie. This time the Griswold family don’t go on a trip, which gives this installment a freshness that the “go bigger” sequel European Vacation (as much as I do enjoy it) didn’t have. I think of all the Vacations, I laugh the hardest still with this one.
Your Picks (the top 3 being Christmas Vacation, A Shot in the Dark and Clerks II):
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