With adaptations of board games and after school TV shows on their way to theaters, criticizing upcoming adaptations is a bit like beating a dead horse with a barrel full of fish that have been shot to pieces. But keep in mind that the most successful movie franchise of the past five years is an adaptation of a boat ride. You never know when a film adaptation is going to exceed its source material, and turn that animatronic ghost pirate into a compelling character. Here on the other hand, are eight adaptations that will be exactly as shitty as you expect. .
.#8. HORTON HEARS A WHO
The original Horton Hears a Who contained valuable life lessons, whimsical artwork, and was over in 40 minutes (I read it a few months ago, but I suffer from some pretty severe learning disabilities, so that estimate might be off a smidge). Add to that the fact that the last Dr. Seuss adaptation essentially finished off Mike Meyer’s ailing film career, and it doesn’t sound like the best candidate for translation to the screen. Naturally, the movers and shakers of Hollywood aim to overcome such dire predictions, or at least prove them spectacularly.
The main reasons to be afraid of this movie are the same reasons we should be salivating over it: It’s got cutting edge CG and features the voices of Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Carol Burnett, Steve Carell and Seuss veteran Jim Carey. Also Dane Cook, but there’s a good chance he’ll just be in one scene as a buzzard with ADHD who screams at Horton about how much he enjoys turkey sangwiches and rocking.
So why the fear? Because I’ve got the strong feeling that, based on the talent involved, this is going to be a “loose adaptation,” in the same sense that the Holocaust was a loose adaptation of Nietzsche. The screenwriter had to stretch three plot points (elephant hears who, elephant faces ridicule, elephant perseveres) and one simple lesson (listen to invisible voices and do what they say) to 90 minutes, all while accommodating the comedic stylings of the actors involved and attempting to pull in the tween demo. If the past has taught us anything, it’s that this process usually translates into a confused miasma of mugging, meta-humor, and desecrations of beloved childhood nostalgia.
Take all that and add the fact that the writers’ only previous film is College Road Trip, and you can expect Horton to spend most of the movie talking through his ass and at least one scene where the Whos smoke out and discuss Keira Knightley’s tits.
Gladstone: Keira Knightly doesn’t have breasts. .
.Ross: "Sangwiches"?! Was that a typo, or did you seriously just drop a Dane Cook inside joke?! I'm going to pretend it was a typo. .
.#7. GET SMART
I loved this sitcom as a child. They showed it in syndication on weekday mornings and my mom would let me watch it before nursery school (but only if I finished all my whiskey). I’m not sure why I liked it. The music probably had a lot to do with it, and Don Adams talking into his shoe couldn’t have hurt either. Still if you go back and watch it now, there is some truly inspired comedy in this Mel Brooks/Buck Henry production.
But in its latest incarnation, Mel and Buck have been replaced by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember. Who? Remember Episode 1 of the 2000 season of The Hughleys? No? How about the A Fox by Any Other Name episode from the 1997 season of Coach? No? Hmm, yeah, that could be a problem, because that’s who these writers are. I’m not sure even Steve Carell as the lead can help save this movie. And that’s coming from a guy who, so help me, even kind of enjoyed Evan Almighty and Dan in Real Life. (Shut up. I know. I know.)
In addition to my random personal complaints, there's also a vaguely intelligent reason things aren't boding well for this flick. Part of what made Get Smart! great was that it was edgy and different for its time. Mel Brooks would go on to hone his style of slapstick and satire in feature films. And Jim Abrams and the Zucker brothers would then carry that tradition (at a more frenetic pace) to fruition with their Airplane and Naked Gun movies. Going back to the roots of that humor now will look less like an homage and more like some second-rate schlock satire (e.g. Meet the Spartans). That might be fine for my co-blogger Ross Wolinsky who likes to giggle at fat guys and firearms, but you, the discerning Cracked reader, deserve more. Ross: Fat guys and firearms. What more is there?.
.Swaim: Wait--are you saying there's something wrong with Meet the Spartans?!.
#6. MONOPOLY: THE MOVIE
Hasbro recently inked a deal with Universal good for at least four films, one of which will allegedly be based on the board game Monopoly. This makes perfect sense if you think about it: People love the game, so why wouldn't they love a movie based on the game? Eureka! You've done it again, Hollywood!
Here's the problem: Aside from Rich Uncle Pennybags and the cop who says "GO TO JAIL," Monopoly's entire cast of characters (with the exception of the dog) is a bunch of inanimate pewter objects. How do you make a movie out of that? Will it document the thrilling rise to power of Shoe, whose hotel empire comes to dominate everything from Kentucky Avenue to Marvin Gardens? Will there be a subplot about Thimble and Wheelbarrow who are down on their luck, squatting in a condemned building on Baltic Avenue, where they can see the gleaming jewels of the Community Chest just barely out of arms reach? Maybe they'll go the serious route and make it a prestige flick about the actual history of Monopoly and Parker Brothers. It could be a gripping cautionary tale of hubris and lost humanity. They could call it There Will Be Board Games.
You know what? I would actually totally pay money to see that. We should take this one off the list. .
.Gladstone: Ross, I find it disheartening that you don’t care about the trials and tribulations of a top hat. Shame on you..
.Swaim: My family only had Bible Stories Monopoly, so all these references are totally lost on me. Now if they made a movie about a little pewter Isaiah building three mangers and a temple in Jeroboam--that I'd see..
Yes, it’s THAT Dragonball. The one you watched in junior high where about nine things happened over the course of 500 episodes, and every enemy had six forms and was named after cooling equipment. And NO, this is not one of the dozen animated movies that got released, or a Japanese import, or a You Tube video with clips inexplicably edited to an Offspring song. This is an honest-to-goodness, white boy-starring, Chow Yun-Fat-featuring American adaptation by 20th Century Fox that will come out in theaters and everything, and it’s written and directed by the man that brought us Final Destination 3, remembered as perhaps the most final of all the Final Destination movies.
Why is it going to suck? Because there’s no way it’s going to be even remotely faithful, and let’s face it: the people who are going to be seeing this movie are primarily fanatical nerds who will shit a brick if Krillin doesn’t have the right number of dots on his forehead. Which, seriously, they better not fuck up or I swear to Piccolo I will blog about nothing else for a week.
To better understand the forces of inevitability we’re dealing with here, let’s examine a parallel scenario: At a certain point in the X-Men comics, Jean Grey becomes Dark Phoenix, flies through a wormhole and dives into a distant star, destroys a galaxy, and ultimately disintegrates herself after a failed psychic battle with Lilandra, empress of the Shi’ar, on the “Blue Area” of the moon. Why did the makers of X3 decide to change that plotline to “Jean gets all pissed off and wrecks shit, but Wolverine kills her so it’s cool?”
Because the other plotline is rambling, grandiose nonsense, perfect for the comics page, but impossible to pull off with any kind of dignity or believability in two short hours. Dragonball Z elevates such awesome nonsense to unthinkable levels, including routine trips to the afterlife, wish-granting intergalactic space dragons, and a hero that occasionally turns into a giant radioactive ape. If the movie is at all faithful, it will be terrible, and if it’s not, it will alienate its core audience.
Frankly, the safe bet is to just make another Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.
Gladstone: This wasn’t on when I was in Junior High. Are there any plans to adapt Small Wonder?.
.Ross: I have absolutely nothing to say about this, but you know who I like? That Morgan Freeman fella..
#4. SPEED RACER
If the trailer is any indication, the Wachowski brothers' live-action adaptation of Speed Racer looks like it's gonna be a humdinger. It's directed by the same guys who made the Matrix trilogy, and the film is sure to make a ton of money because of (or in spite of) that fact, but this looks more like a 90-minute-long round of Mario Kart than anything else to me.
One that you can't actually control.
Why shouldn't this film be made? Let me answer that question with another question: Has there ever been a live-action film adapted from a cartoon that SHOULD HAVE been made?! Garfield, Fat Albert, Aeon Flux, Transformers, Inspector Gadget, The Flintstones... the list of turds goes on and on and on. Not that these were such hot franchises to begin with, but if the adaptations are consistently worse than the originals, then why does Hollywood continue to churn these films out year after year?
Oh yeah - because Hollywood has no original ideas and mouth-breathing idiots will pack the theaters anyway. Oops - I almost forgot!
Maybe Speed Racer will be different: Maybe the Wachowskis will turn a simple racing movie into yet another complex religious allegory and teach us all to question reality and authority. Maybe this will be the movie the Wachowskis are really remembered for, the movie that comes to define a generation, like Easy Rider or Chairman of the Board.
And if not, well, at least there's a monkey in it. .
.Gladstone: I’ve always said that The Matrix was a sophomoric mess of a movie with some nice camera effects thrown in. If Matrix III didn’t prove to the world that the Wachowski brothers are overrated, maybe Speed Racer will. And yes, I like having no friends..
.Swaim: More like Chairman of the BORED? Am I right?! Carrot Top sucks, right?! Brilliant..
#3. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Spike Jonze, one of my favorite directors, and Dave Eggers, celebrated author and founder of one of my favorite websites, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, are teaming up to bring you Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book. But only if I fail to destroy every last copy of the film once it's complete. I know, I know. You think the flick sounds promising. Let’s see if I can explain myself by answering your anticipated questions:
.Q: Didn’t you like the book? A: Yes, it’s one of my favorites.
Q: Don’t you like Dave Eggers? Hasn’t his McSweeney’s website been very good to you? A: Yes on both accounts. If it weren’t for McSweeney’s I’d have no friends in my Facebook account at all.
Q: Do you have some problem with Spike Jonze? A: No, “Being John Malcovich” is one of my favorite movies of all time.
Q: What are you then, some kind of jerk? A: I believe the word is blogger.
Yes, on paper this all sounds good. Too good. Let me explain. When I was a young lad I remember getting very excited about a little flick called The Three Amigos. I watched the commercials in wonder: “Wait, you’re telling me Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short are ALL in the same movie! Whoa... that’s like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cool! Does the movie come with ice cream too?”
And, yet, we all know how that turned out.
Q: Wait, are you seriously panning a movie because it seems too promising? A: Yes. I’m difficult to love.
Ross: Wait, are you saying there's something wrong with The Three Amigos?!.
.Swaim: Not all bloggers are jerks, Gladstone. I've tried to explain this to you before..
#2. THE SIMS: THE MOVIE
1994's Street Fighter wasn't a particularly noteworthy film, but it did prove an important scientific fact, one that remains relevant to this day: Movies based on video games suck. Tomb Raider, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil... I could go on, but I worked so hard for so long to repress those nasty memories. If I spend too much time thinking about these movies I'll probably end up back in therapy, trying to forget them all over again. Then it's only a matter of time before I think about Mortal Kombat, and then I'll have to take the blue pills again. The ones that make everything all fuzzy.
Say what you will about the plethora of horrible video game adaptations that have hit the silver screen, but for the most part they've kind of made sense. If you have an action-packed video game full of static characters, turning it into an action-packed live-action movie should be pretty straightforward.
That's all well and good for games with things like "characters" and "plots," but how do you make a live-action movie out of The Sims? Do you film some dude sitting on a couch for 90 minutes, babbling in Simlish while soccer ball icons fly out of his head? Does the film reach its climax when he gets up, makes some weird noises, urinates all over the floor and then collapses in the (inexplicably blue) puddle? If my experience with The Sims is any indication, that's the only plot this film could possibly have.
I could rant and rave about all the reasons this particular movie adaptation is a horrible idea, but instead I'm going to make a broad appeal to Hollywood:
PLEASE STOP MAKING VIDEO GAME MOVIE ADAPTATIONS. NONE OF THEM ARE ANY GOOD. THAT IS ALL.
I think I've made a difference here today. I really do..
.Gladstone: I heard Roman Polanski was directing a “Second Life” movie, but the Feds shut it down after it was revealed the presumed underage actress who was having all that sex was an undercover agent..
#1. SEX AND THE CITY
To be honest, I’ve seen about four minutes of this program all told, and both times I watched it there was the possibility of getting laid at the time to encourage me. Two minutes in, it became readily apparent that even sex was not worth the massive brain seizures I risked by watching four women live out all the negative aspects of my stereotyped mental vision of “gals on the go.”
As I see it, there are two main reasons to fear the arrival of such a monstrosity at the box office. The first is that by all accounts it is going to be staggeringly faithful to the original: same cast, same producer, same writing/directing team, same misogyny-inducing dialog and narration peppered with enough sex scenes to get you erect so you really feel it when your dick is metaphorically stomped on by grrl power. The second is that if you have a woman in your life, chances are she will make you see it.
Despite being one of the worst representations of women in modern culture, it was one of the highest-rated shows on HBO ever, and now all the boyfriends who managed to have a macrame class every Sunday night will have no legitimate excuse for not going (for some reason, “I have testicles and hate you” is not considered a legitimate excuse). And since the movie is a continuation of the series, there’s a good chance your gal’s going to want you to brush up on the show so you’ll know what’s going on.
After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on all the referential subtext when Big tells Carrie he “knows what she did last summer.” It’s kind of like watching all the Star Wars movies the day before seeing Episode III, except, almost impossibly, it ends even more painfully.
Gladstone: I think you’re a little off here, I’ve already uncovered the full plot of this movie months ago based only on the leaked production pictures..
.Ross: Also, what's up with women always wanting to go shopping and having their periods and being like "give me the remote control" when I'm trying to watch something? Have you ever noticed how they're always in the bathroom "getting ready?" WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?!.
.Ross Wolinsky makes you feel alright about laughing at videos of stupid people, and whatever other viral video catches his fancy in his Daily Nooner, live on the national internet every weekday at noon (EST).
Wayne Gladstone writes about music, and other things that annoy him (usually Starpulse.com) on Mondays and Wednesdays.