10 Misguided Live-Action Films Based on Cartoons1 of 12By Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer
This past weekend, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked 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 The Hollywood Reporter calling the film "groan-inducing" and The Austin Chronicle dubbing it "painful."
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.
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.
With Chipwrecked 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, Josie and the Pussycats is not on this list, because that movie rules.)
YOGI BEAR2 of 12Clearly a spawn of Alvin and the Chipmunks' success, 2010's Yogi Bear was a modest hit, with a domestic total right around $100 million.
However, its most notable achievements have little to do with the movie itself: a hilarious and oddly moving fake "leaked" alternate ending that mirrored The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and the puzzling, inadvertently suggestive early tagline "great things come in bears."
THE LAST AIRBENDER3 of 12Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most critically acclaimed animated series of the last decade, winning over audiences of all ages with its complex storytelling.
The 2010 live-action adaptation, The Last Airbender, 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 Sex and the City 2 and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; no small feat.) It also attracted controversy for casting several Caucasian actors in previously Asian roles, a move the in-development live-action Akira appears to be heading towards repeating.
MR. MAGOO4 of 12To be honest, Mr. Magoo probably wasn't really any worse than the other Leslie Nielsen films of this era Spy Hard, Wrongfully Accused, 2001: A Space Travesty but this one happens to be based on a cartoon, so here it is.
GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE5 of 12George of the Jungle 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.
UNDERDOG6 of 12Underdog actually pre-dates Alvin and the Chipmunks by a few months, so it holds the distinction of being the first movie with Jason Lee in it based on a 1960s cartoon.
However, unlike Alvin, this movie used actual (special effects-enhanced) dogs, giving the whole thing an unsettling, Baby Geniuses-esque quality.
DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION7 of 12Collectively, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z represent seminal works in the worlds of manga and anime; among the most popular entries in either medium.
2009's Dragonball Evolution wasn't anything close to that, and managed to annoy both critics and fans. (Dragon Ball 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 War of the Worlds.
THE FLINTSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS8 of 12Honestly, either Flintstones 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."
Still, any film with Alan Cumming as The Great Gazoo can't be considered a total loss.
DUDLEY DO-RIGHT9 of 12As noted earlier, George of the Jungle 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.
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.
AEON FLUX10 of 12Unlike most entries on this list, Aeon Flux 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.)
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 Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung, who has been quoted as calling the movie a "travesty," and that watching it made him feel "helpless, humiliated and sad."
THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE11 of 12Robert De Niro Robert De Niro, the Oscar-winning actor from films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Cape Fear is in this movie. Just in case you thought you hallucinated that sometime in 2000. It is a true fact.
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