There's nothing that Hollywood cannot turn into a movie. Novels? It's been done. Comic books? No problem. Video games? They haven't gotten it right yet, but they keep trying. However, TV shows have also played a huge role in providing inspiration for films over the years. From The Addams Family to Aeon Flux, television shows have established a basis for a lot of films in recent years, and that idea has come to a head with the release of Baywatch, which is now in theaters.
By now, most of you already know that most movies based on TV shows actually don't turn out very well. The transition from small screen to silver screen almost never works properly, and only a select number of films can claim to be better than the shows that inspired them. With that in mind, we have put together a list of the few films based on TV shows that managed to pull that balancing act off. We have quite a few films to get to, so let's get started with the one whose success clearly paved the way for this weekend's release of Baywatch.
21 Jump Street
The DNA shared between Baywatch and 21 Jump Street is plain to see, and it's not hard to understand why the latter has become such a successful franchise. Using an overwhelmingly meta approach to its source material, 21 Jump Street took a relatively dumb concept (cops masquerading as high school students) and used it as a means to provide some incredibly biting commentary on puberty, high school and pop culture of the 2000s. Combine that with the fact that it features great performances from Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Ice Cube, and it's clear that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller caught lightning in a bottle. Beyond that, it's also one of the few comedies to produce a worthy sequel in recent years.
The Fugitive is one of those stories that has been told time and time again for over half a century -- with a new version reportedly in development right now. The story of Richard Kimble trying to prove his innocence after the murder of his wife has become an utterly iconic tale since the 1963 TV series, but it is the 1993 Harrison Ford-fronted version of the story that has persisted and resonated with audiences all over the world. Andrew Davis' take on the classic story has become the definitive version of the story, and the time restrictions imposed by a big screen story have made the film incarnation of The Fugitive into one of the tightest and most exciting thrillers of all time.
The Mission: Impossible franchise is a unique entity because it is technically not a remake of the original series from which it takes its name. Jim Phelps (the hero of the original series) is the antagonist of the first Mission: Impossible film, which ostensibly means that the adventures of Ethan Hunt are sequels to the TV show. It's an argument that can go both ways, depending on the evidence you choose to accept. That said, it doesn't change the fact that the Mission: Impossible movies have elevated the franchise to the A-list, and Tom Cruise's commitment to the fantastic stunt work has turned Mission: Impossible into one of the best spy franchises over the last two decades. A sixth film is on the way, and things are only going to get crazier.
Monty Python And the Holy Grail
The original Monty Python's Flying Circus TV series is not for everyone. The titular British comedy troupe has delivered plenty of hit-or-miss content over the years, and the particular brand of comedy produced by the TV show has proven quite polarizing among die-hard comedy enthusiasts. That's not the case with Monty Python's best movie. Monty Python and the Holy Grail shows the Monty Python team firing on all cylinders, and the film has become widely regarded as one of the best comedies ever committed to film. While the Monty Python TV series has certainly established its own iconography, as well as its own rabid fanbase, nothing can compare to the legacy created by this remarkable work of medieval fiction.
Antoine Fuqua's The Equalizer is actually a fairly faithful take on the classic CBS series of the same name, but it surpasses its source material for a few key reasons. For starters, the movie lives and dies by the seemingly never-ending charisma of Denzel Washington -- who could pretty much make you root for any hero, regardless of their questionable morality. However, The Equalizer also stands out for the skill with which Fuqua delivers the action and drama in equal measure. In a world defined by superheroes and blockbusters, The Equalizer is the type of pulpy and brutal (yet insanely well-made) revenge flick that doesn't really get made anymore, and it's an absolute blast as a result.
The Naked Gun
Police Squad is one of those iconic shows that ended its run far too early, but The Naked Gun film series capitalized on its unique comedic style and created something that has since gone down in the annals of film history as a result. Channeling the beautifully deadpan comedic timing of the late Leslie Nielsen, The Naked Gun movies took everything that worked about the Police Squad series and dialed the insanity up to eleven on a silver screen budget. While Police Squad came and went with little fanfare, The Naked Gun has gone on to become one of the most influential comedy series of all time, and its effect on the genre as a whole is still being felt to this day.
Unlike The Equalizer or Mission: Impossible, Miami Vice has become a show that virtually everyone knows about in some form or another. As such, the film adaptation had to fight against the iconography of the series that inspired it. In that regard, Michael Mann deserves quite a bit of credit for what he accomplished in this 2006 reimagining. Gone were the neon lights and stylish 1980s suits that made the original so beloved, and instead we were faced with a far more gritty and downright mean version of contemporary Miami -- grounded by strong performances from Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell. The Miami Vice movie isn't the universe that most people grew up with, but it's a far more intense and mature story that surpasses its origins in several ways.
Dean Israelite's Power Rangers fought an intense uphill battle when it debuted in theaters back in March. The film provided the 1990s kids series with a massive upgrade in visual effects and gritty aesthetic, but it also had to contend with the collective nostalgia of those who still look back fondly on the Mighty Morphin series. That said, in terms of the sheer quality of its story, performances and overall direction, Power Rangers is objectively an improvement over its own source material. While its prospects for a sequel seem to have diminished with its lackluster performance overseas (much to our chagrin), that does not change the fact that the film takes a cult classic property and improves upon it in almost every conceivable way.
Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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