10 Misguided Live-Action Films Based on Cartoons

<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/albertxii>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p>This past weekend, <I>Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked</i> the third film in the series hit theaters. And like the other two installments before it, it's gotten some very, very bad reviews, including <i>The Hollywood Reporter</i> calling the film "groan-inducing" and <i>The Austin Chronicle</i> dubbing it "painful." <p>But unlike the other two movies, its first weekend fell below box office expectations, taking in only $23.25 million. (The past entries have grossed more than a combined $800 million worldwide.) Between the Chipmunks and the Transformers films, it's clear that there's money to be made in live-action films based on cartoons, but perhaps for at least this franchise, we've reached a point of diminishing returns. <p>Which would actually be consistent with most live-action films based on cartoons they tend to end up being both critically reviled and financial disappointments, with nearly all of them sharing a common "how did this get made?" quality. <p>With <i>Chipwrecked</i> now in theaters, we decided to take a look at 10 of the most misguided live-action adaptations of cartoons in movie history. Click "start here" in the upper-left corner to begin. (And no, <i>Josie and the Pussycats</i> is not on this list, because that movie rules.) <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>


Clearly a spawn of <i>Alvin and the Chipmunks</i>' success, 2010's <i>Yogi Bear</i> was a modest hit, with a domestic total right around $100 million. <p>However, its most notable achievements have little to do with the movie itself: a hilarious and oddly moving <a href=http://youtu.be/m6w0r-ScEG4>fake "leaked" alternate ending</a> that mirrored <i>The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford</i>, and the <a href=http://blog.newsarama.com/2010/08/05/yogi-bear-poster-and-possibly-more-revealed/>puzzling, inadvertently suggestive early tagline</a> "great things come in bears."


Nickelodeon's <i>Avatar: The Last Airbender</i> is one of the most critically acclaimed animated series of the last decade, winning over audiences of all ages with its complex storytelling. <p>The 2010 live-action adaptation, <i>The Last Airbender</i>, didn't win over many people, even though it did manage to make $132 million. Riding a crest of antipathy for polarizing director M. Night Shyamalan, the movie was widely panned, culminating in a sweep of the Razzies, including "Worst Picture." (Beating out <i>Sex and the City 2</i> and <i>The Twilight Saga: Eclipse</I>; no small feat.) It also attracted controversy for casting several Caucasian actors in previously Asian roles, a move the in-development live-action <i>Akira</i> appears to be heading towards repeating.


To be honest, <i>Mr. Magoo</i> probably wasn't really any worse than the other Leslie Nielsen films of this era <i>Spy Hard</i>, <I>Wrongfully Accused</i>, <I>2001: A Space Travesty</i> but this one happens to be based on a cartoon, so here it is.


<i>George of the Jungle</i> made $105 million (more than twice its budget) back in 1997, in case you needed a reminder that the economy was a very different place back then.


<i>Underdog</i> actually pre-dates <i>Alvin and the Chipmunks</i> by a few months, so it holds the distinction of being the first movie with Jason Lee in it based on a 1960s cartoon. <p>However, unlike <i>Alvin</i>, this movie used actual (special effects-enhanced) dogs, giving the whole thing an unsettling, <i>Baby Geniuses</i>-esque quality.


Collectively, <i>Dragon Ball</i> and <i>Dragon Ball Z</i> represent seminal works in the worlds of manga and anime; among the most popular entries in either medium. <p>2009's <i>Dragonball Evolution</i> wasn't anything close to that, and managed to annoy both critics and fans. (<I>Dragon Ball</i> creator Akira Toriyama was more diplomatic; advising fans to think of it as an alternate universe story.) And in keeping with troubling tradition, it also cast a Caucasian actor in its lead role main character Goku was played by Justin Chatwin, Tom Cruise's son in <i>War of the Worlds</i>.


Honestly, either <i>Flintstones</i> movie could probably quality for this list, but the first one was at least a financial success, so let's go with the sequel and it's all-time-low Stone Age pun names like "Mick Jagged" and "Keith Richrock." <p>Still, any film with Alan Cumming as The Great Gazoo can't be considered a total loss.


As noted earlier, <i>George of the Jungle</i> was a bit of a surprise hit, so two years later, Brendan Fraser once again starred in the lead role of a film based on a Jay Ward cartoon. <p>This time, the cruel hand of fate caught up with him, and it only made about $10 million, even with Alfred Molina playing Snidely Whiplash.


Unlike most entries on this list, <i>Aeon Flux</i> was definitely not a kids' show, from the main character's aggressively revealing outfit to the rampant violence and general disturbing imagery. One of the iconic products of early '90s MTV, the show got a high-profile live-action film in 2005, starring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron. What could go wrong? (You probably know the answer to that already.) <p>And it's not just that it did poorly at the box office (which it did) or that the reviews were bad (which they were). It also let down <i>Aeon Flux</i> creator Peter Chung, who has been quoted as calling the movie a "travesty," and that watching it made him feel "helpless, humiliated and sad."


Robert De Niro Robert De Niro, the Oscar-winning actor from films like <i>Taxi Driver</i>, <i>Raging Bull</I> and <I>Cape Fear</i> is in this movie. Just in case you thought you hallucinated that sometime in 2000. It is a true fact.

10 Misguided Live-Action Films Based on Cartoons

Date: 19 December 2011 Time: 08:49 PM ET