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. . .
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
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
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
#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
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--
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
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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