When it comes to genres that miss more than they hit, I think the popular thought is that video game movies are among the worst. I'd argue that genre is on the rise as of late, but even if it wasn't, it doesn't hold a candle in its ability to make a bad movie when compared to one that attempts to modernize a classic cartoon.
Sure, there are some winners in this genre, but it doesn't take long to go through the list of cartoon adaptations to see there are many that range from really bad to "why was this made?" Here are some of the more egregious examples, kicking off with one of the most recent offenders, Tom & Jerry.
Tom & Jerry
Tom & Jerry kicks off with a bunch of pigeons singing A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It?", and it's really all downhill from there. Tom moves to New York to hit it big, and Jerry is just trying to find a place to live. Of course, the two piss each other off and go to war, but that's not really what makes this movie so unbearable, despite its success.
What makes Tom & Jerry unbearable is that, even for a kids movie, the plot and jokes are pretty bad. At one point in the movie, Chloë Grace Moretz's character is just having a conversation with another person, and Michael Peña's character just randomly butts in and says "Sorry to interrupt your TED Talk." That's it... that's the joke, and there's plenty more where that came from. This movie is definitely a case where watching the original would've sufficed to capture the nostalgia, and not this attempt to modernize an outdated franchise.
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
It's not like the first Scooby-Doo movie was award-worthy, but considering it's one of the most beloved cartoons of its era, I can allow a movie version for nostalgia's sake. What I cannot allow, however, is Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, in which the gang confronts their past while trying to solve a fresh mystery. It's a premise that sounds promising on the surface, but ultimately failed to execute with audiences and critics.
The response was so bad that it effectively killed the third movie in the franchise, which was going to be written and directed by James Gunn. It's a movie that, admittedly, is more enjoyable as a child, though any living adult today may be a bit disturbed by the scene in which Matthew Lillard's Shaggy grows boobs.
Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
I'll be honest, it's hard to say Hollywood should stop with the Alvin And The Chipmunks franchise when it has been successful enough to spawn four CGI hybrid-live action movies. With that said, the ride may be coming to an end given the latest sequel, The Road Chip, which involves Alvin and the boys stealing Dave's engagement ring and robbing him of happiness in a real relationship.
It gets crazier, because the Chipmunks get all caught up in this wild adventure, only for it to be revealed in the end that they stole someone else's engagement ring. Dave was never going to ask his girlfriend to marry him, so the entire "road chip" was all for naught. The Chipmunks got put on a no-fly list over this shit. Can you imagine how that's going to impact their touring capabilities? Perhaps that's why there hasn't been a follow-up, though it may also be because the franchise has run its course.
The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle
If there was ever a time Rocky and Bullwinkle deserved a movie, it was well before my 30-something ass walked this Earth. And yet, the cartoon characters got their own movie back in 2000, and better yet, it brought Robert De Niro along for the ride. Ironically enough, the movie is about the characters being upset they were canceled, leading to an adventure that revitalizes their careers to what they once were.
I say ironic because The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle is considered a box office bomb, somehow unable to balance the wants of a younger, millennial audience and the boomer generation. In fairness, the movie was kind of right about the two getting revived, though the revival happened 18 years later on Amazon Prime Video. That was also canceled though, so maybe a sequel to the movie could run with that as a starting point.
Fat Albert and friends leave their television world to help a young girl deal with some issues in life, and in the process, they bring some of the old school back to the real world. Kenan Thompson's movie was ultimately given a middling response back in the day, though even before all the things with Bill Cosby pushed the movie into relative obscurity, it would be a stretch to say reviews were glowing.
And obviously the fact that Bill Cosby himself is a big part of the movie makes this a hard re-watch in the modern era. It's certainly not a movie I can imagine families will want to rent anytime soon, if there was a large demand for it at all to begin with. It's definitely a rough movie for various other reasons compared to the other classic cartoon movies on this list, but one of the worst nonetheless.
Franklin City is in trouble and the mayor's solution is to sell Jellystone to a logging company. Of course, the usual move by the powers-that-be at the park is to keep Yogi and Boo Boo out of sight, but this is the Yogi Bear movie! Yogi doesn't listen, but through his fumbling, he and Boo Boo ultimately help save the park.
A big issue these movies suffer from is stunt casting, in which celebrities are jammed into a movie presumably to further draw adults to take their children. In its defense, Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake did a solid job voicing Yogi and Boo Boo, but was it really necessary when there's plenty of talented voice actors in Hollywood? If there is one upside to this movie, it's that it led to a hilarious dark parody of the ending to be uploaded to YouTube, which Warner Bros. was surprisingly chill about.
Garfield: The Movie
Garfield: The Movie dives into perhaps the most mysterious part of the cat's mythos: his relationship with Odie. The movie serves as an origin for the two pets and their dynamic, and the events that ultimately pull them together as a family in a way we never really saw in the comics. Hey, I can't blame the funny papers; they only have so many panels to work with.
I get the logic behind Garfield: The Movie. On paper, it makes sense that having Bill Murray as the voice of the character is all you need, and the rest of the film writes itself. That wasn't the case, obviously, though, as much as the movie was panned, and the movie cut a scene that featured Garfield's creator Jim Davis. It's not a great look, but the franchise scored a sequel (with Murray) all the same.
For these reasons, and perhaps a few more, Hollywood should hang up attempting movies on classic cartoons. Hollywood will do what it wants, of course, and perhaps until The Jetsons and a few more cartoons get their day on the big screen, classic cartoons will still get play with studios.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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