Movie sequels are a tricky game. You have to keep some of the elements that audiences liked from the original film while still changing enough to make it worthwhile. And the one thing that may be even trickier than that is the movie spinoff. The good news is you have a character who’s a proven hit with audiences. The bad news is that you have to write an entire film around a character that was only one part of what made the source material successful. Sometimes spinoffs work (Get Him to the Greek), and sometimes they really don’t (Evan Almighty, The Scorpion King, Elektra—this list goes on).
But the studios keep trying. And this weekend’s new animated release Puss in Boots lets one of the most popular characters from the Shrek franchise take centre stage. Here’s a look at seven more animated characters that deserve a chance to shine in their own big-screen vehicle.
Ralph Wiggum (The Simpsons)
The paste-loving son of Chief Wiggum has been a scene-stealer on The Simpsons for over 20 years now. And the rare Ralph-centric episodes are some of the show’s best (for example, “I Love Lisa”, which deals with Ralph’s unrequited Valentine’s Day crush on Lisa). An entire movie about Ralph could be overkill, but with the right plot (and plenty of appearances from Springfield’s other residents), it could be up to par with The Simpsons Movie in terms of quality.
Ash (Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Ash went from the misunderstood son of Mr. Fox to an eventual hero in Fantastic Mr. Fox. And this quirky character seemed to mesh perfectly with director Wes Anderson’s appreciation for the underdog in his films. Voiced by Jason Schwartzman (who frequently collaborates with Anderson), Ash and his path to acceptance by his family turned out to be one of the most memorable aspects of the film.
Brian (Family Guy)
Stewie is arguably the most popular character on Family Guy, but he’s already had his own straight-to-DVD spinoff film (2005’s Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story). So why not give someone else a shot? As anyone who’s seen the show knows, Brian the dog is so much more than a pet. This articulate, martini-sipping canine could be the perfect subject for a delightful, cerebral Family Guy spinoff.
Sid Phillips (Toy Story)
In reality, the Toy Story franchise left off on a perfect note at the end of the third film (no Toy Story 4 necessary!). But if they were to extend the series, why not make Sid, the neighbourhood villain from the first Toy Story film, the star? There’s plenty of room for character development. The brilliance of his character is that he’s not so much evil as he is bored and misunderstood. He’s just a kid, after all. Get him some sheets for his bed, give him a bit of attention, and I’m sure Sid would come around.
A full-length film about Rapunzel’s mute iguana might not work, but the colourful little sidekick at least deserves a pre-feature short, à la Pixar. The facial expressions alone are too cute to resist.
If Puss in Boots gets his own film, why shouldn’t the loveable, nervous gingerbread man from the same franchise get one of his own? Sure, that voice might get grating over the course of 90 minutes, but think of the merchandising opportunities for a movie based entirely on food!
Michigan J. Frog (Looney Tunes)
He may have only appeared in one original Looney Tunes segment, but this singing and dancing frog certainly made a splash with viewers. Not only is “One Froggy Evening” one of the most famous Looney Tunes shorts, but Michigan J. Frog also served as the mascot for the WB television network until its demise in 2005. Complete with a top hat and cane, Michigan J. Frog is the epitome of a crowd-pleasing performer—that is, until he’s actually in front of a crowd. If we gave him the opportunity, what else could he do when he thinks no one is watching?