The Worst Family Movie Sequels

Unfortunately, more times than not, sequels pale in comparison to the original movie. And then you wonder, what ass clown thought making this sequel was a good idea?

Seriously. In many sequels, a 5 year old could probably write a better follow up using stick figures and a limited word inventory.

And now, thanks to the power of streaming, you can subject yourself to one of the worst tortures known to modern parents: binge watching family movie sequels.

Why are sequels to family movies often terrible?

It’s no secret that sequels are often inferior to their predecessors. Sometimes it is because of director changes, such as with The Last Jedi or The Rise of Skywalker.

Other times, the writing is just not as good. A lot of sequels rehash jokes and lines from the original movie for nostalgia sake. And most of the time, rehashed dialog doesn’t work.

Sometimes actors and actresses get tired of the role. This causes their performances to suffer as you watch what’s left of their soul to slowly flicker out. Or, in some cases, they don’t sign on to come back because the money is not worth their soul.

Any genre of movie sequels can suffer from these issues. But family and children movies also tend to do something much worse: beat you over the head with their morals and lessons.

And it’s truly awful to watch as an adult. Often, it makes me wonder if they think children are that stupid.

10 of the Worst Family Movie Sequels

Family and children movie sequels are often like dumpster fires. You may be intrigued to see it, but you sure as hell don’t want to be anywhere near the stench.

The following are some of the worst sequels known to family and children movies.

Mulan II

2005 | Straight to DVD | IMDb: 5.7 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 43% (Audience)

Mulan II deserves a special place in hell. Mullan II represents everything that is wrong with most sequels:

  • some of the staff didn’t reprise their roles (Eddie Murphy did not voice Mushu)
  • the writing was overall weak
  • it relied on elements from the original to drive the plot (the return of the three soldiers from the original Mulan)

Mulan II’s basic premise is that Shang and Mulan are engaged. But they find out early on that they have a lot of differences. Meanwhile, Mushu finds out that once Mulan is married, he will no longer hold a place of honor in the family.

The revelation triggers Mushu. He then became obsessed with keeping his pedestal within the family. And to be clear, he’s a royal dick to all the ancestors.

As a result, Mushu becomes the antagonist of the story. He does everything in his power to push Mulan and Shang apart. And he nearly succeeds.

Mushu plotting to split up Mulan and Shang in Mulan II
Mushu’s just being a jerk.

And boy do the morals start beating you over the head. Mulan is completely shocked that there would be three arranged marriages… in China… during the time of the Middle Kingdom.

The major moral of Mulan II is that you should always follow your heart because it will lead you in the right direction. Really? Well, if I followed my heart all the time, say when I’m craving brownies or cookies, my heart would lead me to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

But I lost count of how many times Mulan or another character directly mentioned “follow my heart.” It was a broken record of bad dialog that made me roll my eyes every time I heard them utter the words.

How did Mulan sink so far? The sequel could have been amazing. Instead, it reeked of milk left in a hot car for a few days.

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

2002 | Straight to DVD | IMDb: 5 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 11% (Critic) & 32% (Audience) | Movie Time Dad: 0.7 out of 5

When I think about cash grabs, Cinderella II comes to mind. It’s a messed up collection of three short stories. All three are set following Cinderella’s marriage to a Prince she just met.

The movie starts with the Fairy Godmother just finishing a story when Jaq and Gus show up. Being a bitch in disguise, she tells them she can’t reread it for them. So instead, they share three stories of Cinderella in the castle that they want the Fairy Godmother to turn into a book to give to Cinderella.

The stories include:

  1. Cinderella must plan a ball as part of her new royal duty. But the only help she has is from some rigid stuck up bitch who is clearly set in her ways. Everything goes wrong until Cinderella decides to do it her way. And, of course, everything works out just fine in the end because she stayed true to herself.
  2. Jaq, the speech impaired mouse, decides that he is of no help to Cinderella as a mouse. So he wishes to become human. In the process, he learns an important lesson (and you will learn this lesson too) about being yourself. Because you might be able to stop a stampeding elephant one day, but only if you are a mouse because all elephants are scared of mice. (Incidentally, I understand elephants settled on a lawsuit with Disney over the negative stereotype presented about elephants in the movie.)
  3. Anastasia just wants to find true love like Cinderella did. I guess she doesn’t have much of an idea about what actual love is. But her mother still wants her to marry for money and power. Thankfully, the ever benevolent Cinderella helps Anastasia stand up to her mother so she can pursue the town’s baker.

Each story pushes its morals on you as though the only way to get a moral across is to beat it over your head. Repeatedly. Until you are lying in a pool of your own blood. And even then, the moral beating continues.

Cinderella and Anastasia from Cinderella II
Is it just me, or does Cinderella look like a Mean Girl convincing Anastasia her “terrible” outfit looks good on her so she can have a good laugh at her expense later at the ball?

Shrek the Third

2007 | Theatrical Release | IMDb: 6 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 41% (Critic) & 52% (Audience)

Just in case you were starting to wonder if I only hate on Disney, it’s not true. Mostly true, but not entirely true. Any perceived hate really has more to do with the sheer quantity of films Disney produces than anything else.

Shrek and Artie from Shrek the Third

Anyway, Shrek the Third is a cringe-worthy installment to the Shrek franchise. Both Shrek and Shrek 2 were pretty good films, which makes Shrek the Third that much more disappointing.

The basic premise was two fold:

  1. Prince Charming wanted revenge on Shrek
  2. Shrek wanted to find a suitable heir to the throne when the frog king passed away

Sadly, if each plot line was well executed, Shrek the Third could have earned a place with its predecessors. Instead, it felt more like Shrek the Third was laughing at the audience and not the other way around.

Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

2000 | Straight to DVD | IMDb: 5.6 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 33% (Critic) & 45% (Audience)

Why Disney? WHY?

Oh. That’s right. Money. That’s why someone in Disney’s production company thought the Little Mermaid II was a good idea to make.

In fairness, The Little Mermaid II does answer some hard hitting questions. Did you ever wonder what a middle aged, balding flounder with a comb over would look like? You will get your answer if you watch the Little Mermaid II. Or I can show you here:

Middle aged balding Flounder from The Little Mermaid 2
Life treated Flounder pretty rough in the years since Ariel left the ocean.

Besides a middle aged, balding Flounder, there is not much redeeming about the second Little Mermaid. After Prince Eric and Ariel get married, the anorexic sister of Ursula makes an appearance threatening the safety of their daughter.

Rather than having daddy blast the crap out of her with his trident (there is some reason for this I think, I don’t remember), they do the next most reasonable thing: lie to their daughter for 12 years of her life about her heritage and her being a half-mermaid.

Seems legit.

You can probably see where this is going. When Ariel’s daughter turns 12, she decided to run off to the ocean to have a little adventure. During her adventure, she decides its a great idea to steal King Triton’s trident to give to the new, body-shamed Sea Witch.

And Ariel, her daughter, and you, the viewer, learn some important lessons about honesty, trust, and family. That is, you will, if you don’t tune the movie out or fall asleep during it.

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time

2007 | Straight to DVD | IMDb: 5.9 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 75% (Critic) & 61% (Audience)

If you were saying, “you know what is missing from Cinderella? TIME TRAVEL!” You are in luck. Cinderella III: A Twist in Time offers just that!

The basic premise is that Cinderella’s step mother finds the Fairy Godmother practicing her dark magic in the woods. She puts two and two together and figured out that the wand is what took away her happy ending.

Cinderella's stepmother using MAGIC in Cinderella 3.
Magic!

She steals the wand and with no magical training or background, manages to time travel back to when the king’s men were visiting her house with the glass slipper. She then manipulates the shoe to fit Anastasia’s foot and shenanigans ensue.

Cinderella spends the rest of the movie trying to reverse the devious plot and regain her throne true love.

Morals abound in this crappy sequel. Anastasia has a change of heart because she wants a person who will love her like the prince loves Cinderella. Way to aim high there Anastasia. What you are saying is you want a shallow relationship with the first man that pays attention to you.

Great lesson. Moving on.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

2002 | Theatrical Release | IMDb: 6.5 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 65% (Critic) & 56% (Audience)

Audiences today that hate on the The Last Jedi and claim Star Wars was better when George Lucas was in charge clearly don’t remember Attack of the Clones. It was a genuine train wreck that you couldn’t look away from.

One of the few good things about Attack of the Clones is that it at least made some sense in relationship to the other two films of the series. Oh it also side lined Jar Jar Binks. That was the movie’s best call, otherwise it probably would have become completely unwatchable.

The basic plot involved an assassination attempt against Queen Amidala, the discovery of a secret clone army, and a crappy love story developing between Anakin and Padmé.

Hayden Christensen’s acting needed some tremendous help. It was like watching a first grader perform a play where they just barely remembered their lines for each scene and recited them like deer in headlights.

Which is more wooden A or B?

Needless to say, the backlash at Attack of the Clones would likely rival that of the backlash at The Last Jedi had social media existed in 2002. Fortunately, you don’t have to watch Attack of the Clones (or even The Last Jedi) to understand the plot of the prequels.

Leroy and Stitch

2006 | Straight to DVD | IMDb: 6 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 40% (Critic) & 53% (Audience)

If there was every a franchise that should have stopped while it was ahead, it is Lilo and Stitch. I consider the first movie an underappreciated gem. Leroy & Stitch, though, I consider to be a flaming bag of dog excrement.

Stitch! the Movie was a straight to DVD sequel that kicked off the Lilo and Stitch series. In the series, Lilo and Stitch need to find homes for all 625 experiments that Jumbo created when attempting to create Stitch (626).

Leroy & Stitch is the follow up movie to the Lilo and Stitch television series. All the experiments have their “one true place” (all of which, by some miracle of chance, are on Hawaii), which prompts the gang to split up:

  • Jumbo gets a new lab
  • Pleakley becomes a non-teaching Professor of Earth Studies at some galactic university
  • Stitch becomes a Captain of the Space Force or whatever it is called
  • Lilo is left alone to film an All About Singles commercial

All their dreams are interrupted when the evil Dr. Hamsterviel escapes from prison and makes an evil clone army from Stitch’s DNA. The gang along with all of Stitch’s “cousins” work together to stop the evil plot to take over the universe.

Stitch rallying his cousins to fight
They may take our lives, but they will never take – our FREEDOM! Wait, wrong movie.

It is as cheesy and crappy as it sounds. Lilo and Stitch should have stopped at the original. There was no need to belabor the franchise in an attempt to squeeze every last penny out of it.

Home Alone 3

1997 | Theatrical release (I have no idea how) | IMDb: 4.4 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 29% (Critic) & 27% (Audience)

Home Alone is a Christmas classic, but I do enjoy pointing out issues with it occurring in today’s world. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York took a pretty big nose dive from the original and almost made this list (my wife vetoed the decision because it is not nearly as bad as the rest of these monstrosities).

But Home Alone 3 is when the franchise hit rock bottom, splattering what remained of the dying corpse of the franchise across any resemblance to the original other than its name.

As much as I tried, I could not find anything redeeming about the movie. International terrorists replace the inept Wet/Sticky Bandits. The kid is different (granted, no one wants to see a helpless 17 year left at home for an extended amount of time).

Black Widow on her first assignment in Home Alone 3
Is that Black Widow? Is this one of her first assignments? Maybe we’ll see more of this in the Black Widow movie.

But most importantly, the premise feels like a crappy reboot of the original, which makes the movie that much worse. The whole movie lacks humor or imagination, making it very difficult to sit through.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

2006 | Theatrical release | IMDb: 4.6 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 17% (Critic) & 39% (Audience)

Have you ever found yourself saying, “You know what I enjoy? Watching actors and actresses who have died on the inside while they struggle through shooting a movie?”

If you have, then you should definitely watch The Santa Clause 3. Yeah, Disney had the balls to produce a third one in the series. Like Home Alone, the original Santa Clause was a pretty good movie as family Christmas movies go.

And though the Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause went down some, the direct sequel managed to hold its own. But the third installment is almost uncomfortable to watch. Charlie’s original mom is gone. Neil is now a legitimate crackpot. And the new head elf, Curtis, seems dead inside.

The premise is that Santa is burned out between work and expecting his first child with his new wife. So, he does what any reasonable person would do. He grabs hold of a magic snow globe and says that he does not want to be Santa any more.

And poof! A scheming Jack Frost, who is tired of living in the shadow of Santa, seizes the opportunity to become Santa. In doing so, he effectively changes the history of the original Santa Clause and prevents Scott Calvin from putting on the suit in the first place.

Oh no! Now Scott Calvin has figure out a way to undo what was done.

If you are a sadist, you might enjoy watching Tim Allen as he wrestles with his self-loathing for agreeing to do a third film in the series. Then again, the same could be said for most of the actors in the film.

Dead inside dear. I'm dead inside.
Sums it up I think.

The Last Jedi

2017 | Theatrical release | IMDb: 7 out of 10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (Critic) & 43% (Audience) | Movie Time Dad: 1.2 out of 5

Last and most controversial of all the items on the worst sequel list comes The Last Jedi. Though some clearly liked it and will defend it to the death, others vehemently hated it. Overall, I’m in between the two extremes, but it still deserves a place on the worst sequels list.

The issue with The Last Jedi is that the direction switched from where the Star Wars sequel trilogy appeared to be going. And needless to say, this pissed off a lot of fans.

But beyond taking the sequel trilogy in a different direction, The Last Jedi made it a point to beat it’s social message over the audience’s head.

The movie also included some questionable plot points that did not sit well with everyone. And many fans of the original trilogy despised the treatment of fan favorite characters such as Luke Skywalker.

Luke holding his light saber in the Last Jedi

When compared with The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, The Last Jedi is clearly the odd one out. It tried, and ultimately failed (at least in critical fan’s eyes_, to take Star Wars in a different direction, which ultimately made The Rise of Skywalker feel like a rushed apology for the lackluster movie that preceded it.


If you read this far without getting bored, triggered, or otherwise, let me know in the comments if you have any other family or children movie sequels to add to the list.

Nathan

Nathan is not a published author, professional movie critic, or avid fan of most children shows. He is a caring father (when he's not banging his head against the wall), a movie connoisseur of sorts literally able to have full conversations in movie and TV quotes, and dedicated to helping other parents avoid starting a show with their small children that they will soon regret. In his free time, he does nothing. He has two small children. Free time does not exist.

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