Cartoons haven’t often translated well to live action. Whether it’s a Disney remake or a live action adaptation of a classic animated TV show it feels more like the executive were seeking to make a quick money cashing in on the nostalgia value rather than bring the heart of what made those cartoons great to the forefront. This article takes a look at the worst live-action adaptations of cartoon TV shows.
Honorable mention #1: Scooby-Doo (2002)
The CGI for this movie is horribly dated and its direction really has no idea with what it wants the movie to be and it tries to do so much and fails on all fronts. But in the movie’s defense the cast does a decent job in representing the meddling kids and it’s got a good joke here and there. It’s just really lacking as a movie. In trying to represent the Scooby-Doo franchise there’s at least some level of effort.
Honorable mention #2: Fat Albert
This movie definitely has good intentions in trying to recreate the nostalgic feel of the cartoon and the actors they got for the gang do resemble their cartoon counterparts in shape or form but they’re buried underneath its bland fish out of water narrative, which is far too simple to appeal to an adult audience that grew up with the show. And kids aren’t going to get the concept of Fat Albert from this movie either. It tries to an extent and its message is mostly harmless. But it’s not going to provide anything of value either.
Honorable mention #3: Yogi Bear the Movie
This is not a great movie to be frank but it’s not the worst. There is some attempt to recreate the Yogi Bear cartoon and Tom Cavanagh seething rage as Ranger Smith does get a legitimate laugh. It’s an okay remake of the cartoon and it’s mercifully short.
Honorable mention #4: The Adventures of Rocky and BullWinkle
This isn’t anything special but it does have some creative visual gags and a unique sense of self-awareness to it. It had some level of smartness to it that allows it to escape being on this list.
Honorable mention #5: Inspector Gadget 2
This at least tried to fix some of the flaws of the first movie and be more faithful to the show. It just didn’t do those things well in execution. It’s mostly just forgetttable compared to the first movie.
Ok enough with the honorable mentions let’s get down to the real ones.
1.Avatar the Last Airbender
Oh boy where do we even begin on this one? The actors bear very little resemblance to their animated counterparts and personality and their performances are completely devoid of life, chemistry, or development in their characters. There’s no weight to either the story or the emotional depth of the characters and relationships. And it takes out so many characters that were crucial to the plot of the first book. This movie is nothing but an empty shell of a show of beautiful art and it is incapable of leaving any everlasting impact whether you’re a kid or an adult. Keep as far away from this and stick to the cartoon.
2. Dragonball Evolution
Good god! There are so many questions involving the how and the why of this movie. Just about every actor in this movie is picked to look as alien from the show as humanly possible. And “Goku” is nothing more than a walking 90s teenage cliché with little to no charm. And some of the dialogue and editing is just so bizarre. The narrative is horrible, the characters and script make no sense, and the whole project just feels like someone’s sick idea of a joke.
3. The Transformers sequels
The first Transformers movie is stupid but it has a stupid charm to it. It definitely had a couple of laughs, some mass scale battles, the original voice of Optimus Prime, and somewhat like a satire of Michael Bay movies. But man that charm just disappeared in all the sequels and they succumb to the same problems: Complicating its mythos with several pointless backstory, an extremist government jerk who wants nothing more than the Transformers gone, more focus on the uninteresting and insufferable human characters whose bonds lead to the same lesson of whether or not humanity is worth it that pretends to be deep but instead is just bland, dated pop culture references and jokes, and action that is so loud and edited badly that you can barely make out the people fighting nor are there any real emotions that ride high in it. These movies are nothing more than obnoxious white noise that just drains far more than it gives. It in no way feels like anything resembling the Transformers cartoon. It comes to a point where the Transformers are almost alien in their own movie.
4. The Smurfs
The world of the Smurfs was an entrancing medieval one with all kinds of magic. These movies attempt to throw them into the real world of New York with a fish out of water narrative to take the magic right out. The CG is severly lacking and the camerawork is downright spontaneous with its constant movement and the human actors in no way feel invested. The only upside is that Hank Azaria gave a good performance as Gargamel but overall this has little to do with what made the Smurfs so iconic. This is just an attempt to capitalize on a nostalgic property without understanding what keeps its fanbase.
5. The Alvin and the Chipmunks movies
This is an interesting one since no one really gave the chipmunks much thought until these movies came out but man the sped up voices novelty really wore itself out years ago. Right off the bat the squeaky voices prove to be grating. The movies are a barrage of dated pop songs and product placements while the human actors are mostly either unlikable or just idiotic. Even the Chipettes in the sequels just feel like carbon copies of the Chipmunks. These movies are just one giant commercialization of the Chipmunks music with no real substance to it and yet somehow they’ve all turned in huge profits. Stick with the 1987 movie for a good Chipmunks movie that can be quite the adventurous movie for children and even some adults.
6. Flinstones Viva Rock Vegas
I’ll admit the first Flinstones movie doesn’t hold up but the cast for the most part had some great impressions and it’s an okay distraction for kids. This prequel has little to none of the original cast and the performances are even worse. Stephen Baldwin in particular really felt clownish. The movie is downright hideous to look at particularly with the CG Gazoo and the rest of the CG is just as choppy. The jokes here are fascinatingly bad visually and verbally. This is just a really slow movie that will not be a remembered as part of the legacy of the modern Stone Age family.
This movie bears little resemblance to not only the things surrounding Garfield such as his owners but also Garfield himself. And the CG on Garfield is just hideously ugly to look at. Bill Murray was a good choice to voice Garfield but man outside of the character’s obsession with lasagna he bears little to no resemblance to his cartoon counterpart. Even the plots of both movies are rip-offs of two vastly superior animated Disney movies. Bill Murray in Zombieland said it best in regards to these movies.
8. Jem and the Holograms
I’ll admit the cartoon was a bit past my time. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t see its appeal. This movie gives a really bad name to the millennial to generation with all the narcissism, self-entitlement, and modern trendiness. Even the wigs and make-up, which bear some resemblance to the cartoon, don’t bring any joy and all the leads in this movie just feel downright superficial and unlikable in character and relationships despite its attempts to act like it has so much soul.
Are there any other bad cartoon adaptations out there? Any you disagree with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!