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Dina Reviews: ALL the DisneyToon sequels!
- December 1, 2021
After my mini-reviews of all the Disney Animated Canon movies, a couple of people asked me if I was going to do the DisneyToon sequels as well. Well… I HAVE seen all the DisneyToon sequels as well, so… I figured, why not? I actually turned out to have a little more to say about the sequels, so here each mini-review is two paragraphs instead of one. But then there are far fewer instalments on the list this time.
This list has ONLY the DisneyToon sequels. No sequels that were made by the main animation studio no Pixar sequels. Also, no Disney Fairies or Winnie the Pooh movies, even though they were mostly done by DisneyToon as well. This is all about the direct to video sequels to Disney classics, which were produced from 1994-2008.
The DisneyToon sequels, I feel, got a lot of flak, and it wasn’t ALL deserved. True, there are some clunkers here, but some of these movies are actually not that bad… and some are actually pretty GOOD.
Let’s go through them.
The Return of Jafar (1994)
Famously, the first of the Disney sequels was really a three-part pilot for the upcoming TV series, just edited into a movie… and it shows. Animation isn’t the greatest (the first half of the movie is off-model, the second half is unexpressive), and you can SEE where the commercial breaks were meant to fit in. But really, I think your enjoyment of this movie is almost wholly dependent on whether you like Iago the Parrot. This is HIS movie; the entire point of the story is his character development and personal journey. Fortunately, I love Iago, and so I love this movie.
The biggest complaints people have about this movie is that Robin Williams didn’t reprise his role as the Genie, and Gilbert Gottfried sings two songs. I just have to say I like Iago’s two songs (at least he puts heart and energy into his performances!) and when it comes to Robin Williams… mmm… I’ll talk about that when I review the next movie. All in all, it’s a good movie and a good start for what turned out to be a pretty damn good TV series.
Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)
It’s the finale of the TV series, but this time it was meant to be a movie from the start. The animation is slightly better (but still not super impressive), and Robin Williams returned as the Genie, two things which means this movie is generally better liked than its predecessor. But… I’ll say it: I think this is a weaker movie than Return of Jafar. The story is not as well put together, the songs are blander, the villain is forgettable, and Robin Williams’s Genie… is kind of a giant waste. Sure, he’s wackier and zanier than ever, but he has NO impact on the movie. You could cut him out entirely and the story would play out almost exactly the same. The entire thing just feels lazy, like they let Williams do his improv thing and then didn’t really care if he was integrated well in the movie or not. At least in Return of Jafar, the Genie DID stuff. He was actually relevant to the story.
That’s not to say the movie is bad. The story… really could have used a couple of rewites as it’s absolutely RIDDLED with plot holes, but the arc with Aladdin’s father is well done, as is the conclusion of Iago’s character arc. Though it’s the weakest of the Aladdin movies. King of Thieves ultimately has more strengths than flaws and is an overall good conclusion to the trilogy, as well as a worthy finale to the TV series. The Aladdin sequels and series may not have looked as polished as the later DisneyToon sequels, but they effortlessly did something that many later sequels struggled with: They genuinely felt like they took place in the same world and that we were genuinely seeing the continuing adventures of the same characters.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)
And already we’re taking a dip in quality. The Aladdin sequels had wit and charm, and what’s more the story and the characters lent themselves perfectly to a story continuation. You believed that the characters would continue to go out on adventures and that the movie was just the beginning of a long and eventful life for them… Beauty and the Beast, not so much. Not only is it less action-y, but the entire premise of the set-up kind of vanishes at the end of the movie, when the Beast and the servants turn human again.
This movie does what many future sequels would do: It tells a story that takes place during a time skip in the original movie, making it a “midquel.” We get the Beast still being the Beast, and we get the servants still in their enchanted forms… but really, the result is just a rather uninspired Christmas special, and the entire thing is just… dull. Tim Curry tries his best to insert some energy into the movie when he hams it up as the villainous pipe organ, but it doesn’t work. Especially since the GCI they use to animate the pipe organ looked AWFUL even in 1997 and hasn’t exactly aged well.
Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World (1998)
It’s not so much a movie as it is a collection of shorts… not unlike Disney’s “Package” films but with the same characters in all the shorts… and frankly less artistic value and much less interesting premises. Apparently this is all that was made of a proposed and cancelled TV series for Beauty and the Beast… and yeah, it’s EASY to see why that series was never made. There just aren’t that many interesting stories to be told when nobody can leave the castle and most of the characters don’t even have hands. It barely works as slice-of-life stories because… it’s all so dull.
I’ll give the movie half a point for at least trying to come up with some new interesting designs for more enchanted servants, or fleshing out minor characters like Fifi the featherduster… but this is even more dull and forgettable than The Enchanted Christmas, which at least TRIED to do something semi-interesting.
Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World (1998)
This still isn’t terribly good, but… I… actually kind of like this movie better than the original Pocahontas? Granted, that’s not SAYING much, since I didn’t like the original Pocahontas at all, but… well… the story just seems more interesting and less heavy-handed, the melodrama has been toned way down, Ratliffe is a far more effective villain here than he was in the original, and we’re spared John Smith for most of the movie. Sure, the animation is still pretty weak compared to the original (though it’s notably better than the previous four outings), but the story and the characters are engaging enough that I’m ALMOST borderline engaged at times…
…okay, fine. The REAL reason this movie is better than the first is that Uttamatomakkin wasn’t in the first movie. He totally steals every scene he’s in, even if he barely speaks and never drops his stoic demeanour, he manages to be the funniest part of the movie.
The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (1998)
Well, this is more like it. The animation and music have received a MASSIVE facelift with this movie. This is where we start seeing just how good the DisneyToon workers could make a movie look when they had a better budget and could spend some time on the movie. The animation is notably cheaper than the original movie, and the colours are off (Timon especially looks like he’s got a tan), but it’s a lot more fluid and grand than what came before, and it’ll take some time before we get a DisneyToon sequel that can match, much less surpass, the animation quality seen here. The story is also a lot more interesting, and fits the character a lot better, than anything we saw from Belle and her Beast; since The Lion King was Hamlet, but not really, it makes sense for this movie to be Romeo and Juliet, but not really.
…though this movie DOES start the unfortunate trend of sidelining and mischaracterizing the old fave characters just so we can focus on a new, younger generation. Rafiki probably has the best role in the movie, but Simba gets hit with the “overprotective parent” schtick for no real reason, and Timon and Pumbaa… look, they have some funny moments, and the interplay between Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella is as smooth as ever, but just like the Genie in The King of Thieves, they don’t DO anything in the movie. Most of their scenes just feel like pointless filler. The new characters are somewhat better; I especially thought Kovu was an above-average interesting protagonist. I don’t think it’s the best sequel, but it’s definitely an early highlight on the list.
An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000)
Well… A Goofy Movie wasn’t part of the Disney animated canon. It was actually another DisneyToon movie, just theatrically released and with a higher budget. I didn’t cover it in my Disney Animated Canon reviews, but it was a pretty damn good movie all the same, with a surprisingly nuanced take on the slightly dysfunctional father/son relationship between Goofy and Max, and how they had to learn to see the other’s point of view. Neither of them was entirely right or entirely wrong, and both of them managed to remain likeable.
Well, in this movie we do it all again, except now they’re both wrong and neither of them is particularly likeable. Goofy has no life outside smothering is son, and Max just seems like he HATES his father. Particularly Max becomes so despicable in this movie that I just don’t want to watch him anymore. The “Extreme Sports” plot is also kind of dull. The movie does have some good moments… the animation, while not on Simba’s Pride levels, is nice and lively, we get some more of Bobby (who was the best character in the original Goofy Movie), Beret Girl is kinda sexy, and Goofy IS still Goofy. Whenever he remembers that he actually has a character outside obsessing over his son, he’s still charming and entertaining to watch.
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
Is any of the DisneyToon sequels more unfairly maligned than this one? It seems like everyone who want to talk about how bad the sequels are choose this movie to trash talk… and it’s ALWAYS the same complaint. “Oh, the first movie was about a mermaid who longed for the surface and the sequel is about her daughter longing for the sea, HOW ORIGINAL!”
But… okay, this movie isn’t a classic, but it’s not that bad either. Sure, the animation’s a downgrade compared to the precious two movies (and let’s not even MENTION how much less impressive it is than the original Little Mermaid!) and it continues the Simba’s Pride trend of shoving aside the older generation, and now Ariel is the overbearing and overprotective parent … and the newer characters won’t win any huge originality prices… but you know what? They’re actually surprisingly entertaining. Melody manages to be her own person even though her role echoes Ariel’s: Morgana is a rehash of Ursula, right down to the same voice, but Ursula WAS a great villain. And Tip and Dash may be an aquatic Timon and Pumbaa, but their wannabe heroics are funny and charming. I just can’t hate this movie. It’s got charm.
Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure (2001)
Oh, come ON. This is the third movie in a row that focuses on the younger generation and reduces previous main characters to cameos or overprotective parents. It wouldn’t have been so bad… for once the shift in character focus makes perfect sense; Scamp was the breakout star of the original movie despite only being in the final scene; he’s starred in hundreds of comics and is a fairly well-known character in his own right; the sequel movie SHOULD focus on him. Problem is, well, they gave the ”overbearing and overprotective parent” streak to the TRAMP, of all characters. Simba and Ariel at least had REASONS for turning out how they did, but Tramp’s personality has just done a one-eighty here for seemingly no reason. He LOVED life as a stray, and now all of a sudden he thinks it was Hell on Earth!? And Lady fares no better; she’s barely in the movie at all.
That’s not to say EVERYTHING is terrible about this movie. It LOOKS really good… still not quite on par with Simba’s Pride, but after a few movies with varying animation quality and backgrounds we finally get a DisneyToon sequel that looks like they’ve taken real care to recapture the tone and feel of the original movie. It’s still markedly cheaper-looking, mind, but compared to most of the previous movies on this list it’s a very big step up. And… to my surprise, this is really the last time the “previous protagonist is overprotective parent in sequel” plotline happens. Seems like the people of DisneyToon caught on to how this was a bad idea earlier than I thought they did. There are still overprotective parents in later movies, but none of them are previous protagonists.
Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2001)
It’s Belle’s Magical World, just with Cinderella. Same “package movie” deal, same origin as a failed TV series. But, even though this is another one of those sequels that keeps getting slammed, I have to say… it is better than Belle’s Magical World. Yes, I know… low bar to jump. But compared to that snoozefest, this movie at least has some semblance of energy and semi-interesting plots. Cinderella having trouble adjusting to life in the palace, the mice having an uneasy truce with Lucifer that ends badly, Anastasia getting some development and a love interest of her own… None of it is done in a particularly original or creative way, but it’s at least SOMETHING.
Animation’s a downgrade from Scamp’s Adventure, but I like how ALL of Cinderella’s animal friends make at least a token appearance in this one; my one complaint with Cinderella III was that most of them had inexplicably vanished and we were reduced to two mice and two bluebirds. But it’s still a while before we get to that movie…
Peter Pan 2: Return to Never Land (2002)
This one was actually released theatrically, and I can see why… at least when if comes to the animation department. Once again the visuals have taken a HUGE uplift, and for the first time I can safely say we’ve found a DisneyToon sequel that looks better than Simba’s Pride in pretty much every way. The animation is lively (especially for Tinker Bell and Smee), the backgrounds are colourful and vibrant, and the flying sequences are beautiful. The songs aren’t anywhere near as good… I don’t care if it’s They Might Be Giants; “So To Be One Of Us” is a mess of a song.
Almost all the characters return from before… well, the Indians don’t, but that’s just as well… John and Michael don’t either, but we do get grown-up Wendy, and her daughter Jane is actually a really nice contrast and a pretty cool character in her own right. I DON’T know why they scrapped the Crocodile, who is one of the most iconic characters, and replaced him with a forgettable octopus, but… at least the rest of the characters are good. Captain Hook especially is HILARIOUS in this movie… but the BEST part of the movie is the Lost Boys. In the first Peter Pan movie their role was so reduced they might as well not have been in the movie at all… here they get PROPER roles and lots of screen-time, and they are pretty much the highlight of the film whenever they are on screen… especially the slow-witted Cubby.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2: The Secret of the Bell (2002)
They must have blown the budget on Return to Never Land, because this is the worst-looking DisneyToon sequel since Belle’s Magical World. The animation isn’t the WORST THING EVER, as such, but the backgrounds, the designs, the outlines, the colours… everything’s taken a massive downgrade and just looks cheap. Considering what a visual spectacle the original Hunchback movie was, it’s especially noticeable. Only the gargoyles look consistently good, but their designs are simpler and more cartoony from the start.
The plot’s also pretty bad, revolving around some thieves who try to steal a bell from Notre Dame that’s decorated with precious jewels on the inside (which is admittedly a fairly clever place to hide precious jewels), but it’s really all a paper-thin excuse to give Quasimodo a love interest… a love interest who isn’t interesting or likeable. The only redeeming quality this movie has is that it was SO poorly received that it was essentially the end of the cheapest-looking DisneyToon sequels. From here on out (with a couple of exceptions), the visuals are going to get a LOT better for these movies.
Tarzan & Jane (2002)
Well, I did say there were a couple of exceptions, and this is one of them… actually, this movie manages to look WORSE than Hunchback of Notre Dame II. The colour is all right, but the animation’s uninspired, and the character designs are weak. Though this IS yet another “Package deal” movie that compiles episodes from a TV series… and in this case the TV series actually WAS produced and aired, it’s just that the three eps that make up this movie hadn’t been aired YET. So the lower quality animation is understandable, at least. They were working on a TV budget and not even a direct to video movie budget.
As a compilation movie it’s… inoffensive. Not hugely interesting, not terribly bad. I was never the biggest fan of Disney’s Tarzan, and this movie didn’t do anything to change this.
101 Dalmatians 2: Patch’s London Adventure (2002)
Okay, but … why Patch?! Of all the characters… of all the DALMATIANS this movie could have focused on, why did they decide to go with PATCH? I could have understood if they went with Lucky, who was the standout pup of the original movie, and who probably would have worked better with the “meeting the TV stars” plot they have going on, but PATCH? Patch was just THERE in the original movie. He wasn’t interesting at all… and he somehow manages to be even LESS interesting here, despite a much larger role and a character arc about wanting to stand out. So why PATCH?!
Oh well. The movie isn’t TERRIBLE, but it does feel kind of half-hearted. It’s like they KIND of tried to give this movie the same kind of look and feel as the original, but couldn’t be bothered to actually give it that much effort. The result is a movie that’s competent, but bland. Sadly, the blandness extends to the characters… even Cruella, usually one of the best Disney villains, just isn’t up to much here. The only characters who actually seem to try to give it their all are Thunderbolt and Little Lightning… well, their story is about as generic and dull as it could possibly be, (the TV hero pretends to be a real hero, the put-upon sidekick turns villain) but at least they actually seem to care SOMEWHAT about giving a decent performance. In other words, this is a movie where CRUELLA DE VIL is upstaged by two cliches. It’s almost as bad as that movie where she was a poor misunderstood woobie whose father was killed by dalmatians or something.
The Jungle Book 2 (2003)
Another theatrical release, and once again this movie looks gorgeous… especially the backgrounds, which are lusher and more colourful than ever before. The problem lies in the story… Okay, so to be fair, this movie IS a far more coherent and structurally sound story than the original, which was little more than a series of loosely connected skits. But the problem is it kind of rehashes most of the story beats and the character turns from the original, and doesn’t do it particularly well. Apparently this movie went through dozens of rewrites, so it’s just kind of weird that the end result is just an inferior copy of the original. I mean… “The Bare Necessities” IS a good song, but they didn’t have to reprise it THAT much… or they could at least have given it some new lyrics. The kick here is that Disney already had two really good songs that they COULD have used in the movie, “Baloos Blues” and “It’s a Kick,” which were sung by Phil Harris on the 1969 record More Jungle Book. The songs would have fit perfectly in with the plot, since the first one is about Baloo missing Mowgli and the second one is about Baloo being happy to see Mowgli again.
Three characters actually come across better in this movie than in the original though. Mowgli actually seems more competent and far less bratty, while Shere Khan, who was already a delight in the original, has stepped up his game and is far more menacing here. And then there’s Shanti, who was basically just a plot device in the original, but here she’s a fully fleshed out character… and she’s definitely been embraced by the fanbase, especially the hypno-fanbase for her scene with Kaa… Mind you, I still don’t know why she can talk so effortlessly to the animals. It makes sense that Mowgli can, since he grew up in the jungle, but why would a village girl like Shanti be able to understand what Baloo is saying? Oh well. She is still one of the better parts of a sadly somewhat mediocre movie.
Atlantis: Milo’s Return (2003)
I kind of didn’t realize how many of these DisneyToon sequels were compilations of episodes for failed TV series. This movie tries to pretend like it isn’t a “package deal” movie, but it totally is one. There are three very separate plots, one after another, which leads to a very disjointed narrative, and really they should just have leaned into the episodic nature like the other “Package Deal” movies. But you know? Even with all that, and even with the fact that this thing was produced on a TV budget and IT SHOWS with its sub-par animation… it’s still probably the best of the “Package Deal” movies.
No, really. The plots may be disjointed, but the individual mystery stories are actually pretty good, and the characterizations are surprisingly strong. The characters may not LOOK as good as they did in the original movie, but they talk and act exactly like they’re supposed to. Given that the characters were the best part of the original Atlantis, it’s really good to see them get an opportunity to shine here. It’s enough that I kinda wish they HAD made a TV series, just to explore them a little further.
Stitch! The Movie (2003)
Lilo & Stitch of course DID get a TV series. And three spin-off movies, and one anime series, and one… um… whatever Stitch and Ai is. Just like the Aladdin franchise, the Lilo & Stitch series and spin-offs are for the most part pretty damn good… and this movie, which like Return of Jafar is more a pilot for the upcoming series than a finished movie, feels fresh and interesting, especially with the introduction of the other experiments, Stitch’s “cousins.” Okay, giving you a moment to make the obvious “Pokemon” joke here. But it works.
Of course, the movie does go against one of the original movie’s basic rules in that they introduce a character who is an unambiguous villain, Dr Hamsterviel… but at least he’s funny. And of course it’s this movie that introduces the BEST character, Experiment 625… or Reuben, as he’d eventually be called. I absolutely love this character, and even if he’s a fairly minor char here he’ll become one of the mainstays of the franchise, and the franchise is infinitely better for it. It’s not the best instalment in the Lilo & Stitch series, and visually it’s a little uneven (better than the TV series but nowhere near as good as the later Stich Has a Glitch or Leroy & Stitch) but it’s solid and entertaining. No complaints.
The Lion King 1 1/2: Hakuna Matata
So. The Lion King was Hamlet, but not really. Simba’s Pride was Romeo and Juliet, but not really. So of course this movie is Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, but not really. It’s essentially a loving send-up of the original movie, focusing on Timon and Pumbaa (who provide commentary with MST3K-style silhouettes), showing what they were getting up to whenever they weren’t on-screen in the original movie. It MOSTLY works, especially as a backstory for Timon, who is fleshed out a LOT in this movie, though… you really shouldn’t try to make sense of the timeline here, because chronologically it really doesn’t hold up. The narrative is also a little disjointed, especially in the middle of the movie when the joke essentially becomes “Look, Timon and Pumbaa were there all along in THIS scene of the movie too!” repeated over and over.
But overall, the movie’s good. There’s a reason why Timon and Pumbaa are the breakout stars of the Lion King franchise; they work really well together… and if they felt like a bit of a waste in Simba’s Pride, they more than make up for it here. The movie’s got some of the funniest dialogue in any of the DisneyToon sequels. The visuals are good too… definitely better than Simba’s Pride, though it sometimes feels oddly FLAT compared to the original movie. But while this isn’t the BEST DisneyToon sequel, it’s definitely in the top half.
Mulan II (2004)
It looked like we were entering a winning streak with these. Milo’s Return was surprisingly solid, if visually underwhelming. Stitch! The Movie was fun and charming. Hakuna Matata was flawed but overall really good. And then along comes Mulan II, which is the WORST DisneyToon sequel. It’s not the worst LOOKING or the worst SOUNDING… the visuals are pretty decent and not ALL the songs suck. It’s the worst because it takes the original movie, its world and its characters, and proceeds to trample and spit on them, warping them beyond recognition and turning every single one of them into unlikeable jackasses… especially Shang and Mulan, and ESPECIALLY Mushu, who is basically the villain of the story.
It’s also… very blatantly not set in the same world. The original movie wasn’t the most accurate representation of ancient Chinese culture either, but at least it TRIED to represent ideals and cultural values that weren’t just “modern day American values are the only ones that are worth a damn.” I suppose the three princesses are kind of cute, but their role in the movie is just awful… as is pretty much everything else about this piece of garbage. Let’s move on.
Tarzan 2: The Legend Begins (2005)
Y’know, going through these movies I’ve had some surprises… and had to face that several of the things I thought were staples of the DisneyToon sequels aren’t really. There are far fewer “overprotective parent” movies than I thought, and there are far MORE “Package deal” movies than I thought… and now I also see that there are far fewer “midquel” movies than I thought. This is the first one since the days of those terrible Beauty and the Beast movies. I know there will be a couple more before we are at the end of this, but I really thought there were a lot more midquels. Maybe it’s because the Hercules animated series was an midquel… eh, whatever.
It’s more Tarzan. It’s more Tarzan taking place during the time skip of the original movie, with Kid Tarzan and friends out on more adventures. It’s honestly pretty forgettable. Not a travesty like Mulan II, but nothing to write home about either. The animation’s a little uneven; sometimes it’s really good and sometimes it’s just passable. The story’s honestly kind of dull. The trio of villainous gorillas have some amusing banter, but really, this is just the sort of movie you forget three minutes after having watched it. Once again, Disney’s Tarzan fails to engage me.
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (2005)
I… suppose this must take place BEFORE Stitch! The Movie, since there’s no mention of the other experiments, Gantu or Reuben. Oh well. This movie is one of the most beloved and acclaimed DisneyToon sequels… to be honest, I don’t think it’s all that good? It’s kind of a huge cliché storm and it is far too quick to go for the melodrama. This movie WANTS SO HARD to make the viewer cry buckets of tears, and it just falls flat.
But. One thing I have to admit: This may just be the single best-looking DisneyToon sequel. Seriously. It’s SO close visually to the original that in some scenes it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. Even Hakuna Matata wasn’t this close to recreating the style of its original. And I suppose there are some amusing bits with Jumba and Pleakley, who pretty much lean into the “gay couple” as much as they can in a 2005 kids’ movie.
Kronk’s New Groove (2005)
Yay, it’s a sequel to the funniest Disney Movie! And starring the most charming cast member of that movie! And it features the return of all the voice actors, including Eartha Kitt reprising her role as Yzma! She even gets a song this time! This is great! This is… this is…. um. Huh. I don’t know how to feel about this movie!! It’s still Kronk! It’s still funny! Even though there’s an over-reliance on rehashing gags from the first movie, it’s still funny!! But… This sort of feels like a “Package Deal” movie even if it isn’t. The narrative is all over the place, and really… Kronk’s dad is so horribly unlikeable that Kronk’s desperate attempts to earn his approval just work against the movie. You just want Kronk to tell that horrible old man to get lost.
It’s just a terribly uneven movie. Some segments are genius, some segments are cringe, some segments are just kind of okay. But it’s impossible to tell just which of the three feelings win out because all of a sudden in the middle of the most cringey parts there’s a hilarious joke, or in the middle of a truly great scene it suddenly shifts to become nearly unwatchable. I can’t make up my mind about this. It’s like there’s one great movie and one horrible movie here, both smushed together and blended so thoroughly that I can’t even tell which is which anymore.
Bambi II (2006)
Another theatrical release… well, it was a theatrical release here in Europe at least. It’s another midquel, but it’s… actually the best of the midquels. It’s got some serious visuals going on here… not quite on par with the original Bambi, and you definitely see that it’s more cartoonish and less pseudo-realistic than the old movie, but compared to some of the movies on this list, this movie is on a whole new level. It’s almost, dare I say it, borderline Artistic.
Of course, storywise it’s a bit of a cliché storm, but at least it’s a cliché storm that’s competently done and well put together. I also REALLY like the fleshing out of the Great Prince this movie does; he was kind of just this stoic and mysterious figure in the original but here he’s got LAYERS. Doesn’t hurt that they got Patrick Stewart to voice him either; this is a seriously good performance and even if the movie HADN’T had so much else going for it, it would be worth watching just for Patrick Stewart.
Leroy & Stitch (2006)
It’s the Grand Finale of the Lilo & Stitch series, and it’s awesome. Visually it’s not quite on par with Stitch Has a Glitch, but it looks a lot better than Stitch! The movie and especially the TV series. It’s also by far the best of the three when it comes to recapturing the original movie’s balance of the lighthearted action-comedy with the more dramatic scenes. I WOULD have liked to see Nani in a bigger role here, but I can forgive most things when this movie has REUBEN in a major role, and even has him and Lilo as a team for much of the story, where he demonstrates that he actually IS as strong and versatile as Stitch.
It also has one of the best Final Battles I’ve seen in a franchise, largely because it mixes cartoon violence with the power of Elvis. This is just such a feelgood ending to the franchise… well, then the anime happened, but we don’t talk about that.
Brother Bear 2 (2006)
Huh. A DisneyToon sequel that is not only totally on par with the original movie, but even looks and feels almost exactly like the original movie?! Wow! Of course, this feat isn’t quite as impressive when you remember that the original movie was Brother Bear, but still you gotta give this movie some credit. Some of the scenes here are really impressive, especially for a direct to video sequel with a smaller budget.
As a movie, it’s pretty much as good as the original. Again, I have to stress that the original was Brother Bear, so it’s not exactly a movie I’d want to watch again and again… but still.
The Fox and the Hound 2 (2006)
This may just be the ODDEST DisneyToon sequel ever. Who the hell looked over the roster of Disney Animated Canon movies and went “The Fox and the Hound, yep, that’s the movie we’ll make a sequel to!” All the other DisneyToon sequels have been follow-ups to either very recent movies or very classic movies… movies it made some kind of SENSE to make sequels for. The Fox and the Hound is right in the middle of Disney’s Dark Age and isn’t considered a great classic… the one reason you might want to make a sequel is that The Fox and the Hound IS considered one of the DARKEST Disney movies, and you might want to make a DisneyToon movie that’s somewhat darker and more mature fare than usual… but nope. This is a cutesy kiddie movie filled with country music, about a puppy wanting to join a troupe of singing dogs. Apart from the titular fox and hound, it barely has anything at all to do with the original.
It’s another midquel…. A midquel that totally goes against the tone of the original movie. If this movie happens, there’s no way the original movie plays out the way it does. Why did they make this? Why did they make it a sequel to The Fox and the Hound? Did someone at Disney just have an idea for a movie about dogs singing country, but then they couldn’t get it greenlit unless it was a sequel to an existing movie, and The Fox and the Hound was the only one they could shoehorn in? What IS this?!
Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time (2007)
This is the best DisneyToon sequel. No argument. Not necessarily the best-LOOKING one (it’s not on par with Stitch Has A Glitch or Bambi II, or even Brother Bear 2), but character-wise, story-wise and sheer QUALITY-wise, it’s better than pretty much all the other movies on this list. It takes the familiar story and adds a ton of creative twists and turns, to the point where it’s actually a MORE engaging story than the original movie. Cinderella finally gets to show how badass she truly is, and Prince Charming… gets a personality. He’s LIKEABLE. Some of the better parts of Dreams Come True have also been incorporated in the movie, such as the more sympathetic take on Anastasia and the revelation that Lady Tremaine was just as abusive towards her own daughters, just in a different way. Speaking of Lady Tremaine… she was an effective villain in the original, but in this movie she’s SERIOUSLY upped her game.
Like I said way back in my Dreams Come True review, my only real complaint here is that most of Cinderella’s animal friends have inexplicably vanished, even in scenes where they really SHOULD have been present. Bruno the Dog is particularly puzzling in his absence, and I have no idea where all the other mice went. Jaq and Gus are as great as ever, and they are real heroes here, but I can’t help but wonder why they’re the only mice present all of a sudden. Oh well. Minor complaint. We got all the way to the penultimate DisneyToon sequel, and it’s the one that gets almost everything RIGHT.
The Little Mermaid III: Ariel’s Beginning (2008)
It’s the final DisneyToon sequel! After this they started making Disney Fairies movies (which were pretty good) and Planes movies (which weren’t), before shutting down in 2018. This is the only prequel on the list; not a sequel, not a midquel, not a deliberate step into an alternate reality, but a prequel. And it’s… fine. Not as good as A Twist in Time, but it has its charms. Probably the main jarring thing here (apart from the underwhelming villain) is that the characters don’t really have the same personalities as they do in the rest of the franchise. Except for King Triton, who was a douchebag in the original movie and a douchebag here. It’s also a little odd that a story that revolves around bringing music back to Atlantica features so few original songs. Instead, everyone just sings “Shake, Shake, Shake Senora.”
I do like how the movie gives some more screentime and personality to Ariel’s sisters, who have kinda been non-entities for most of the franchise. Well, they did get a few moments in the TV series, I suppose, but still… I like the sisterly relationship as it’s presented here and the way they can just go from bickering rivals to hugging best friends at the drop of a hat. The visuals are also good; for the last DisneyToon sequel they went out on a visual high, with nice fluid animation and stunning backgrounds.