Media Impact: bad adaptations of classic kids’ stuff

Jim Carrey takes the grumpy Grinch into insane territory in 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

Certain phrases strike terror into the hearts of movie lovers the world over. Perhaps it’s lines like ‘from the producers of…’, meaning that they couldn’t get the director of that movie you loved, but they did get the producers. Maybe just seeing someone’s name on a poster is enough to send you screaming from the room. The one that always bothers me is ‘From the beloved children’s classic…’ This seems like it’s just setting you up for disappointment, and many times that’s the result. This month, we’re going to take a look at some of the worst adaptations in the world of children’s film.

From Book To Bad

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By far, the worst adaptations come from Dr. Seuss. How The Grinch Stole Christmas  is an incredible Christmas story, as well as an equally fantastic animated TV-movie. Even though it had already been done so perfectly for television, the Grinch took to the big screen in 2000. Jim Carrey‘s portrayal of the Grinch is so over-the-top that you would be forgiven if you had the urge to hit him. It’s not like the original Dr. Seuss story is normal, it’s certainly full of crazy contraptions and ideas, but it at least seemed normal. The Grinch was a grump with a wild idea, Jim Carrey turns him into a lunatic with a wild idea.

You can’t talk about Dr. Seuss without speaking about the even bigger mess that is The Cat In The Hat. In 2003, Mike Myers suited up as The Cat to destroy more childhood dreams. So terrible was the reception to the film that Dr. Seuss’ widow decided not to authorize any more live-action adaptations of his work, even cancelling a planned sequel.

A final addition to this category needs to be given to Tim Burton‘s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, based on the novel by Roald Dahl.  Much like The Grinch and its original animated show, the adventures of Charlie had already been done so well in the 1971 film that returning seemed pointless. Johnny Depp delivers a Willy Wonka that is strange and creepy while the world around him goes a bit too far over-the-top, a challenge since it’s based on such a wacky idea.

Small Screen Nostalgia – Big Screen Disaster

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An obvious place to turn for adaptations are the cartoons that filled the screens on Saturday mornings. It would seem an obvious winner. The kids that grew up watching all those shows are now having children of their own. It seems as if every cartoon I ever watched growing up has become a movie in the last few years. Sadly, none of them really turn out that great at all.

The series of Transformers films may be the biggest disappointment for nostalgia-filled fans. Michael Bay decimated every childhood memory that many fans had for the series. Essentially a showcase for explosions and product placement, Bay couldn’t even capture the true essence of the characters. When the third film ended with Optimus Prime executing the villain, Bay proved that he had no idea what these characters actually stood for. The problems are too numerous to even mention, but that never stopped kids from buying the products, ensuring there will certainly be future installments.

Aimed at much younger youth, Alvin And The Chipmunks  is a film that may give parents nightmares. While the first film didn’t turn out as bad as many thought it may, the next two installments got progressively worse. By the time the Chipmunks are getting ‘Chipwrecked‘ in the third film, you’ll start to wish that you were marooned on a deserted island so you can avoid sitting in the theatre. Crammed with more pop culture references than any one film should be, Alvin and the Chipmunks becomes quickly dated, and breaks all the rules of making a good kids film.

Perhaps one of the worst ideas in the bunch was the Yogi Bear film. The fact that an entire film could be created from a character who usually just steals a picnic basket and tries to get away with it, is astonishing. How do you turn one gag into a 90-minute film? Easily. You don’t. The only shining point of the film was how well Justin Timberlake‘s impression of Boo Boo was. Considering that the film is based on a show that wasn’t exactly the most creative, perhaps they weren’t as far off the mark as one first assumes. That doesn’t make the end result good though.

Fun To Play, Terrible To Watch

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Video games have become one of the more popular places to draw big screen entertainment from lately. The Resident Evil series continues to chug along, and attempts have been made with Doom and Max Payne, but there’s one film that takes the award for worst game to movie adaptation ever: Super Mario Bros.

It hurts to include this film on a list like this because it happens to be one of those movies that is so terrible, it’s good. Yet, the fact still remains that it is terrible, even if many fans secretly enjoy it. If turning Yogi Bear into a movie seemed like a bad idea, just take a look at Super Mario Bros. The game consists of a plumber who jumps on turtles in order to save the princess trapped in a castle by Bowser. Obviously you can’t make a film based on that. The end result is an entirely new story created using the characters from the game. Not exactly a bad idea, but what a terrible product we’re left with.

Incredibly bad dialogue fills the film, and it’s a shock to see Dennis Hopper as the villain King Koopa. The sound of paychecks being cashed may be the only thing you can hear throughout this film. This certainly isn’t the worst video game adaptation, but it’s the worst one that was created for children.

This is still just a small sample of bad adaptations, and it’s an area that usually leaves fans unfulfilled. How many times have you heard someone say that the book was better? Adaptations won’t ever stop, but as long as we always have the original source material, fans won’t have to worry about where they can find true entertainment.

 


Raised on a healthy diet of Star Wars and every horror film on a video store shelf, Will has been watching movies since before he was able to talk. Inspired by an ever growing passion for film, and the occasional mind control experiment, Will began writing film review on his personal blog, The Film Reel. When the mind control experiments actually worked, he was able to secure a position with Toronto Film Scene. He now waits patiently in the TFS basement for October to come every year, when his love for horror films finally pays off.

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