And now a direct sequel of sorts to Knocked Up is This Is 40
1997's Fierce Creatures featured the same core cast and much of the same crew as 1988's A Fish Called Wanda, and includes at least one explicit Shout-Out to the earlier film, although they are in no way connected to each other.
The actors also play more-or-less similar characters, with Kevin Kline as a dimwitted egomaniac, Jamie Lee Curtis as seductive and manipulative, John Cleese as a stuffy square, and Michael Palin as a weird guy.
Labyrinth is a spiritual sequel to The Dark Crystal, in so far as both films feature the puppeteering of the Jim Henson corps, scenarios co-authored by Henson himself, and production design by Brian Froud. George Lucas was also reportedly involved in the making of both films, though only credited in Labyrinth.
Mirrormask was designed to be the Spiritual Successor to both (but mainly Labyrinth). The original plan was to get David Bowie to play the Prime Minister of the White City, but scheduling conflicts forced them to just have Rob Brydon play the PM and Helena's father.
All three films have been released as a single DVD set called the "Jim Henson fantasy film collection" (which was, incidentally, a ploy to move unsold copies of the original Dark Crystal and Labyrinth DVDs after the deluxe versions came out).
Hot Fuzz is the Spiritual Successor to Shaun of the Dead. It stars several of the same actors and making a number of references to the zombie comedy. Shaun is in turn the successor of Britcom Spaced; the characters from Spaced who do not star all appear either in the other group of zombie fighters Shaun and his friends encounter, or in crowd scenes. Also many of the running jokes between Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead (e.g. 'We're not gay - thanks babe.' and Cornettos) originally come from Spaced. The World's End is the third part of Pegg and Wright's Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy. All three feature a mention of Cornetto ice cream.
Scream (1996) can be considered the spiritual successor of the obscure '80s slasher film Return to Horror High. Not only does the killer in both movies have a black cloak and a white featureless mask, but RTHH was very post-modern for a film of its age: it is about a director making a horror movie about a series of unsolved murders happened in a high school, set in that same school, where the actors playing the parts of the students are getting murdered in "real life"; there's the conflict between the scriptwriter of the film and the director who only wants tits & blood, and the actresses that complain of being used only as fanservice...
Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet The Spartans, and Disaster Movie (the only real link being their directors, their inability to actually parody the genre they claim, and their total lack of quality), though this dubious quartet probably couldn't come across as more contrived and crass by being a series of actual sequels.
A lot of Jackie Chan movies can be considered spiritual successors of each other, especially his earlier works. You could argue this extends at least some extent to other martial arts movie starts like Bruce Lee and Jet Li.
1997's L.A. Confidential, despite being made by a totally different cast and crew, is considered by many fans to be the Spiritual Successor to 1974's Chinatown, as both are set in Los Angeles, both were made 40 years after the time period in which they are set, and both feature themes of betrayal, corruption of public institutions and officials, and "neo-noir" values. Oh, and both have scores by Jerry Goldsmith.
There is some discussion over whether Confidence is a Spiritual Successor or an updated remake of The Sting. Both feature a team of small-time conmen accidentally ripping off an underling of a crime boss and getting out of it by pulling a much larger and more elaborate con on him.
Similar to the Knocked Up example, Pineapple Express is a Spiritual Successor to Superbad. Both being written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, produced by Judd Apatow and Shauna Robertson, and distributed by Columbia pictures. In fact, Pineapple Express was greenlit based off of the early positive reaction to Superbad footage.
War, Inc. is the spiritual successor to Grosse Pointe Blank. They both feature John Cusack as a hitman having doubts about his career choice with Joan Cusack as his assistant and Dan Aykroyd in a supporting role.
Grosse Pointe Blank itself is a spiritual successor to Say Anything - although there are some important differences in the backstory, Martin Blank feels in many ways like an alternate history version of Lloyd Dobler 10 years later, with the point of departure being when he joins the army out of high school instead of hooking up with the girl. They're both played by John Cusack (and they both kickbox).
Though it is a spiritual successor to Linklater's 1990 film, Slacker.
Starship Troopers is a spiritual successor to RoboCop (1987). Released ten years apart from each other, both are directed by Paul Verhoeven, share similar themes and are structured around mock broadcasts of news and information.
The films The Snapper and The Van were spiritual successors to The Commitments. They all revolve around a Dublin family with a father played by Colm Meaney and all are based on Roddy Doyle novels. (The novels themselves were actual successors, but due to copyright issues, the name of the family in each of the films was changed).
In The Commitments Outspan ended up as a busker on the streets of Dublin. Twenty years later the same actor, Glen Hansard, starred in Once which opened with his character ...busking on the streets of Dublin. Bonus points due to his character in Once being unnamed.
Casino is a spiritual successor to Goodfellas. Both are gangster movies directed by Martin Scorsese that span several decades, both are based on nonfiction books by Nicholas Pileggi, both star Robert De Niro with Joe Pesci as a sociopathic madman, both rely heavily on narration (occasionally not from the main protagonist), and both chart the rise and fall of eras in the criminal underworld.
Goodfellas is itself a spiritual successor to Scorsese's earlier film Mean Streets. According to the director, each film represents a step up in the mob hierarchy, starting with neighborhood punks and ending with the true power brokers at the top as in Casino.
Screenwriter Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese have essentially noted that The Wolf of Wall Street does for white-collar crime what Goodfellas and Casino do for organized crime.
In South Korea, the film Windstruck is considered to be the spiritual successor to the wildly popular romantic comedy My Sassy Girl. Both were written and directed by Kwak Jae-Yong and starred Jeon Ji-Hyun. Of course, Windstruck should almost be considered a spiritual prequel, as its end is a painfully obvious allusion to its predecessor, with two future lovers meeting at a train station.
Similarly, because they all feature a protagonist who is nameless, are all Westerns, and all star Clint Eastwood, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider are sometimes seen as ... somehow ... part of the same Weird West world as the spaghetti Westerns. High Plains Drifter in particular was directed by Eastwood in a direct homage to Leone's work.
Clint Eastwood has stated that Unforgiven is a spiritual sequel to the Fistful of Dollars trilogy, as it was deliberately written to deconstruct his earlier works. Some accounts say that he's gone so far as to say its direct sequel.
Both Babel and 21 Grams which were directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu are considered the spiritual sequels of the Mexican film Amores Perros (also directed by him).
The three films also share a screenwriter. The director and screenwriter consider the three films a trilogy.
Mexican director Luis Estrada has made a series of satirical films depicting the country's ailments, starting with La Ley de Herodes depicting the political corruption, continuing with Un Mundo Maravilloso portraying the poverty of the people and finishing the trilogy with the upcoming Infierno that will deal with the violence of the drug cartels. All of them cast the actor DamiÃ¡n AlcÃ¡zar (aka:Lord Sopespian) as the lead.
The film Revolutionary Road is an interesting subversion of Spiritual Successor status. It's set in America, it starred Leonardo diCaprio and Kate Winslet (as husband in wife) in their first film together after they'd co-starred in Titanic. Some people initially thought it therefore as Titanic's spiritual successor. The storyline, however, is, if anything, entirely the opposite of Titanic and only gets worse from there. Plus, it's based on a completely unrelated novel.
The Lion in Winter is a spiritual successor to the earlier film Becket in that they're both historical dramas starring Peter O'Toole as Henry II playing him as an old man in Lion and younger in Becket.
The Seven Ups is a spiritual successor to The French Connection in that it stars Roy Scheider as a New York detective similar to the one he played in the latter movie and had the same producer and composer and even had a car chase like the one in The French Connection.
Super Mario Bros. can be seen as a Spiritual Successor of sorts to Blade Runner as its production designer, David Snyder, was one of Blade Runner's driving art directors. While the exact tone and story of the movie isn't the same the parallel world's appearance was still heavily driven under a "Blade Runner-sensibility".
Really, just about every movie made in the decade or so after Blade Runner combining science fiction and City Noir sensibilities has been invariably compared to that film.
Where the Sidewalk Ends is very much this to Laura. Both directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews as a disillusioned New York cop named Mark who falls in love with characters played by Gene Tierney. Mark Dixon in Where the Sidewalk Ends could easily be Mark McPherson from Laura, ten years later and now more jaded, cynical, and violent.
Preminger's Whirlpool was described by Jose Ferrer as "like a sequel to Laura — it had the same star, the same mood and atmosphere."
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon made a handful of movies that were all spiritual successors to the original The Odd Couple film. The spiritual successors began with Grumpy Old Men and included Grumpier Old Men and Out To Sea...the actual sequel was largely considered a lesser effort than all of the above.
The box office disaster Torque was a spiritual successor to The Fast and the Furious, even having the same producer and featuring the crime and racing genres.
Darren Aronofsky has stated that Black Swan was a "companion piece" to his previous film The Wrestler. In a way, the former is the latter's foil: The Wrestler is about finding beauty in a brutal sport while Black Swan is all about the brutality of a beautiful artform.
The movie Tomboy can be seen as a Spiritual Successor to the My Life In Pink movie released 14 years earlier. They both center around transgender children (one about a Mt F 8 year old and the other around a possibly Ft M 10 year old), are French language, and have the "Just moved to a new town" premise.
Jerry Lewis's comic style has been so influential in movies that many latter-day comedy film stars have been dubbed his successors. Pee-wee Herman, Jim Carrey, and Adam Sandler have all been explicitly compared to Lewis.
Strange Days is essentially an unofficial sequel to Brainstorm, showing the effect on society after the thought-recording technology invented in Brainstorm becomes mass-produced.
The 1980 musical film Xanadu is a spiritual successor to the 1944 movie Cover Girl. In Xanadu Gene Kelly plays an older version of Danny Mcguire (his character in Cover Girl). His character doesn't make any direct references to the story or characters in the older movie except for the mention of once owning a nightclub. Danny also remembers meeting Kira before somehow. Rita Hayworth's role in the older film doesn't really suggest any connectios to Kira or the muses. But In the 1947 film Down to Earth (the direct inspiration for Xanadu), Hayworth actually does play the muse "Terpsichore". And Down to Earth does make references to Cover Girl, however.
According to director Danny Boyle there's a sly connection between Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. Keith Allen portrays a drug dealer in both films — with the intention that we think he may be the same character in both, as Trainspotting was suppose to take place in the late 1980s before the occurrences in Shallow Grave.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) are unintentionally similar. Both are kids' movies about a boy who befriends a large, misunderstood reptilian creature, going against the whims of his family. And the characters have Scottish accents.
Looper is basically a remake of the 1994 sci-fi film Timecop, but with the camp replaced with being as ultra-stylish as possible.
The fact that child actress Patty McCormack went from playing an Enfant Terrible to an Evil Matriarch 40 years later is the reason why the low-budget thriller Mommy is considered the spiritual successor to The Bad Seed.
The Road can be seen as an unintentional spiritual successor to Road to Perdition as they share many similar themes (apart from the title involving "road" that can easily be confused). Both center around the relationship between a father and son who have nothing left but each other (in both cases he had a wife but she's dead) who through events beyond their control are forced to travel down a "road" both literally and metaphorically trying to survive whilst bringing up questions about morality- the father trying to be a good man doing what's best for his son, trying to find a place for themselves and running into problems on the way, including people who want to kill them. Even the endings are similar, as they both involve them coming to the end of their journey with the father dying but the boy seemingly going off to a better life (although how much better his life becomes in The Road is debatable, given the apocalyptic setting).
The Green Mile is a great film on its own, but it's also an interesting spiritual successor to The Shawshank Redemption (made by the same director). Both are period dramas inspired by Stephen King stories, but instead of going the usual route of looking at his horror stories, Frank Darabont instead looked to some of his unusual works- neither of which was part of the horror genre and one of which had no supernatural elements whatsoever. Both are period dramas set in American prisons during the 20th century dealing with themes of injustice (one involves a man being sentenced for a crime he didn't commit, the other involves a man who tries to comfort prisoners on death row... and then having to carry out their executions). It's also interesting to note the point of view changes between them- Shawshank is told from the point of view of a prisoner, Green Mile is from the perspective of a guard, both of whom are subjected to injustices and try to make the best of their situations with help from a few friends.
The 2004 film Crash to the 1991 film Grand Canyon. Both movies feature the interconnected lives of and then tensions between people of different races and classes in Los Angeles.
Seeing how the subject matter of an ambitious but flawed man struggling with his inner demons and addiction are similar, Flight could very well be a higher-budgeted and more graphic update of The Lost Weekend.
It's Always Fair Weather is a spiritual successor to MGM's film version of On the Town, both being written by Comden And Green, co-directed by Stanley Donen and starring Gene Kelly as one of three military buddies.
Despite being based on a book series that was previously adapted as Point Blank and Payback, Parker could be seen as an ultra-violent remake of the Audrey Hepburn film How To Steal A Million as the two films share similar elements of a heist of priceless artifacts, the pairing of a gentleman thief with a female accomplice and stylish locales as their backdrops (Paris in How To Steal a Million, West Palm Beach in Parker).
The Place Beyond The Pines is a spiritual successor to Drive: Both characters were stuntmen who used vehicles as part of their employment, both were taken in and given a job in a low paying mechanic job where they found them selves doing a crooked sideline to make extra cash, they were also pretty soft spoken but had an air of understated charisma, they both ended up in a precarious predicament due to their criminal activity as well as getting angry with their boss/friend.
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is a spiritual successor to Hook, where an iconic literary character returns to a fantastical land after many years away to face old adversaries.
Another Burton film, Big Fish, is arguably a spiritual successor to Forrest Gump. Both are set in Alabama and are about an innocent Everyman telling stories about his life in the past to people in the present; both also have a hint of the supernatural about them; and both have a prominent female character named Jenny!
Speaking of Johnny Mnemonic, there's the direct-to-video "Johnny 2.0", which isn't a sequel but seems to intentionally present itself as one.
Inverted. The Chronicles of Riddick literally is a sequel to Pitch Black, but nothing about it feels so. The first was a pretty standard horror movie with humans in a futuristic setting, while the second has elements of sci-fi and fantasy giving it a completely different feel (Riddick is an alien, now?), right down to the titles of each film. It'd be like placing Hannibal Lecter in an Urban Fantasy as a Noble Demon and calling it a sequel to The Silence of the Lambs... which, in Hannibal Rising, is kind of what they did.
And inverted again with Riddick, which pretty much throws out the previous film in the first few minutes and then rehashes the plot of Pitch Black.
Though "Phantom" came first - just barely - its scene of a muscular, gay Frankenstein monster with a blond pudding-bowl haircut being born inside a tank is so similar to "Rocky Horror" that some screenings of the latter have edited this sequence into the film as a joke.
A small number of fans feel that Shock Treatment was intentionally harking back to "Phantom" - in a number of ways, the new Brad and Janet ARE Winslow and Phoenix, complete with Jessica Harper damn near playing the same role again.
Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence serves as this to his earlier film ET The Extra Terrestrialnote Note the similar titles.. Both movies revolve around innocent young suburban male protagonists, and both work archetypal science-fiction tropes (aliens in E.T., robots in A.I.) into Coming of Age Stories. Since the movie was originally going to be directed by Spielberg's close friend Stanley Kubrick prior to his death (with Kubrick ultimately handing the project to Spielberg because he felt that it was "closer to his sensibilities") it's possible that Kubrick envisioned it as a partial homage to Spielberg's previous work.
The Devil's Carnival to Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film was made instead of a sequel to Repo! after creators Terrance Zdunich, Darren Smith, and Darren Lynn Bousman lost the rights to it. As well them both being rock-horror musicals, they both star Terrance Zdunich, Alexa Vega, Nivek Ogre, Bill Moseley and Paul Sorvino.
Day of the Animals to its director William Girdler's previous film Grizzly, since it has a similar location, plot, and shares some of the cast.
Man of Steel can be considered a spiritual successor to Watchmen. Both are superhero films directed by Zack Snyder that deconstruct their protagonists and alternate between past and present scenes.
The World Engine (an octopus-like alien construct with the ability to level an entire city and change the world to the villain's designs) could also be seen as an Author's Saving Throw for replacing Watchmen's octopus-monster with a bomb.
Despite being a Godzilla movie, Godzilla (2014) comes across as this to the other Reboot of his rival franchise, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. The main monster being a hero in a way that it doesn't really care for humanity but merely protecting it without realizing it? Check. The enemy monster having a Flying creature with Batlike wings with it's mate threatening to kill humanity, not be flat out destroying them, but by spawning more monsters? Check. An attempt to reboot the franchise in a way that's somewhat Darker and Grittier then how most people remember the Titular Monster? Check.
Highwaymen is one to director Robert Harmon's earlier film The Hitcher. Both heavily feature car chases, pursuit along the highways, and a serial killer with a fixation on the male protagonist.
Despite being in a completely different genre, Guardians of the Galaxy has surprisingly a lot in common with Reservoir Dogs, with its fast-paced humor, its ensemble cast of underdog criminals, and its memorable 1970s pop soundtrack (Dogs' "K Billy's Super Sounds of the '70s" vs. Peter Quill's "Awesome Mix" in Guardians). Notably, both movies prominently feature Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling"—a song that Quentin Tarantino is often credited with rediscovering—in pivotal scenes.
Guardians also gained a lot of comparisons to both Farscape and Firefly, due to many similarities in aesthetic, characters, and tone.
Finally, given the fact that Guardians is a reasonably lighthearted supernatural action-comedy with a kid-friendly tone but some seriouscrap-smuggling, you could call it a successor to Ghostbusters.
Multiple academic articles have been written about how Georges Méliès's films are the spiritual successors of the féerie, a spectacular theatrical genre popular in 19th-century Paris.
And hardly any film theorist has been able to talk about the work of the mid-20th-century filmmaker Karel Zeman without either implying, or flat-out stating, that Zeman is the spiritual successor of Méliès.