10. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2009)
Worldwide Box Office: $274.3million
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Cody Cameron, Andy Samberg, Terry Crews, Neil Patrick Harris, Will Forte, James Caan, Benjamin Bratt, Kristen Schaal, Al Roker
Featuring a lot of the qualities that lifted the original Cloudy to such great heights, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has a lot in common with Disney Animation sequels Return of Jafar and The Lion King 2: it’s fun and memorable in its own way, and yet despite its best efforts it can never quite reach the heights of the original.
Like many sequels, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was more concerned with imitating something great (in this case the original film) than it was about striving to be something better – Sony Pictures Animation played things safe.
There are still plenty of imaginative and uplifting moments that echo the child-like imagination you would expect from a film about food falling from the sky, so if sentient pancakes are your thing you’ll find plenty of enjoyment from this particular Sony Pictures Animation release.
9. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)
Worldwide Box Office: £123million
Starring: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Brendan Gleeson, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Brian Blessed, Anton Yelchin, Lenny Henry, Al Roker, Russell Tovey, Kayvan Novak
British stop-motion juggernauts Aardman Animation took the wheel for this Sony Pictures Animation-distributed project.
While The Pirates! Band of Misfits wasn’t of the standard of the animation house’s most popular silver screen releases, Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (each distributed by Dreamworks), The Pirates! remains a lot of fun for fans of Aardman’s particular sensibilities, and offers something unique to the Sony Pictures Animation filmography.
This film’s entry into this edition of Ranked marks the start of Sony’s “top of class”.
Recommended for you: Aardman Animation Movies Ranked
8 . Surf’s Up (2007)
Worldwide Box Office: $149million
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, Diedrich Bader, Jon Heder, Jeff Bridges, James Woods
Sony Pictures Animation’s 2nd release, Surf’s Up, significantly improved upon the quality of the studio’s debut Open Season, providing a much needed shot in the arm for a studio that had got out of the blocks slower than they would have liked.
Surf’s Up’s mockumentary style, quick wit and exceptional ahead-of-the-curve casting of the likes of Zooey Deschanel, made for an enjoyable animated release that may not have been a top contender for animated film of the year, but certainly put smiles on faces.
Surf’s Up may have become a straight-to-DVD IP for the studio to rent out to different companies over the years, staining this admittedly dated movie a little, but the importance and quality of Surf’s Up remains.
Sony had Jeff Bridges voice a cool surfer dude… who needs anything else?
7. Wish Dragon (2021)
Worldwide Box Office: N/A (Netflix)
Starring: Jimmy Wong, John Cho, Constance Wu, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jimmy O. Yang, Aaron Yoo, Will Yun Lee, Nico Santos, Ronny Chieng
What at first appeared to be a see-through attempt at breaking into the Chinese box office (the world’s second biggest box office market and a notoriously difficult one for non-Chinese films to find success in) turned out to be another gem in the Sony Pictures Animation crown, a thoughtful take on the rapid evolution of China’s megacities and the country at large that pleasantly translated into a hearty universally-recognisable animated tale.
At its base Wish Dragon is effectively Disney’s Aladdin, complete with charismatic wish-maker in a lamp, and like that Disney Renaissance classic it effectively pairs wish fulfilment with those most earnest and sincere of things we can never control: love, life, and the passing of time.
Though lacking in some of the quirks found in the best of the studio’s work, Wish Dragon is a fun, relatable, movie that holds appeal to people in all age groups; a strong if not outstanding Sony Pictures Animation film.
Recommended for you: Best Animated Feature Oscar Winners Ranked
6. Vivo (2021)
Worldwide Box Office: N/A (Netflix)
Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ynairaly Simo, Gloria Estefan, Nicole Byer, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Leslie David Baker, Lidya Jewett, Brian Tyree Henry
Sony Pictures Animation took a risk on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s unsuccessful Dreamworks Animation pitch to make an animated family musical based around a Cuban cast of characters, and upon the direct-to-Netflix release of this infectious and wholesome animation it was proven to be the correct choice.
Featuring songs written by Miranda, creator of “Hamilton” and writer behind the music of Disney’s Moana, Vivo was a joyful 100-or-so minutes with ear worms aplenty, and featured a rich and diverse voice cast headed by the man himself.
Featuring the kinds of traits usually associated with Walt Disney Animation releases – namely a hearty story grounded in real-world issues to teach the kids valuable lessons about friendship, family, and in this case the experience of migrating to a new place – and filled with the animation industry’s standard of a variety of funny animal sidekicks, Vivo ticked all the boxes for a lovely time at the movies.